LG 50PW450T 3D TV review
Price: £900 (or £559.98 from Amazon)
Date of review: July 10th 2011
Key features: active 3D playback with one pair of glasses included, USB multimedia support, built-in Freeview HD tuner, 600Hz sub-field drive, HD Ready
Screen size: 50in
Connections: composite video input, stereo audio input, three HDMI inputs, 1x USB 2.0 port, RF input, RGB Scart input, component video input, optical digital audio output, D-Sub PC input, RS-232C control/service port
Native resolution: 1024×768
Screen technology: Plasma
Claimed contrast ratio/max brightness: 3,000,000:1/Not available
Dimensions: 1168.4(w) x 711.3(h) x 52.5(d)mm
Reasons to care
LG is making so much noise about its passive 3D LCD TVs this year that you could easily forget the brand also makes 3D plasmas that use active, full HD 3D tech. But there can be no louder reminder that active 3D is still a force in LG’s world than the 50PW450T. For this set combines a 50in screen, a built-in 3D transmitter, a single pair of active shutter 3D glasses, and a Freeview HD tuner for – are you sitting down? – the princely sum of just £900.
In other words, it could just be the TV that finally sees 3D infiltrate the living rooms of normal folks, rather than being the reserve of die-hard ‘must-have-it-just-because-its-new’ early adopters and some – but not all – AV enthusiasts.
Form – Compared with the slinky, glamorous designs of many of LG’s LCD TVs, the 50PW450T looks almost shockingly workmanlike. Its matt black bezel, chunky dimensions and general lack of flair make it feel more like it’s come out of LG’s professional displays division rather than its home division. But actually we found something almost refreshingly unfussy about the 50PW450T’s aesthetics; certainly they suggest that the TV is more serious-minded than its price might lead you to expect.
Build quality – The 50PW450T’s prodigious weight immediately reveals that the set is built like a tank compared with most current TVs. It’s even got toughened glass on the front to handle those unfortunate ‘child with wooden brick’ or ‘sweaty wiimote’ incidents.
Ease of use
Operating manual – LG has gone all green on us by ditching paper manuals in favour of manuals on CD. Which is great if you’ve got a laptop or your PC happens to be near where the TV is going to be, but a pain for everyone else. In fact, the first thing we did was print the manual out ourselves, which was both aggravating and at least as ‘ungreen’ as LG printing a manual for us.
It doesn’t improve matters that the manual is one of those horrible ‘multiple model’ jobs – even when the feature and spec differences between some of the many models it covers are actually quite considerable. We’ve always hated this one manual for multiple TVs approach, and trying to figure out which diagrams and words apply to the 50PW450T and which don’t does nothing to change our mind.
Remote control -The 50PW450T’s remote is pretty effective, thanks to a comfortably slender design that somehow still manages to deliver a spacious and logical layout.
Onscreen menus - Despite its exceptionally low price, the 50PW450T enjoys the same exceptionally graphics-rich and easy to follow onscreen menu system found on LG’s highest-spec models. Excellent.
Headliners – Considering it costs just £900, the twin facts that the 50PW450T has a 50in screen and can play full HD 3D pictures are startling to say the least. But there’s more, for the puny price also encompasses a Freeview HD tuner and one pair of included active shutter 3D glasses. Which makes it even harder to forgive Panasonic for not including any pairs with its much more expensive GT30 3D plasma models.
Connections – Three v1.4 HDMIs are provided for digital HD and 3D duties, which is perfectly acceptable for a set at the 50PW450T’s price point. It also manages to go beyond the budget norm by allowing playback of music, photo and video files from USB devices, though while there’s a LAN port, this is merely there to provide mandatory support for the Freeview HD tuner. It’s not a portal to either LG’s Smart TV platform or files stored on a DLNA PC.
Key set up tools – LG seems almost obsessed with securing the endorsement of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), so we weren’t entirely surprised to find the usual two ISF picture presets present and correct on the 50PW450T, despite its lowly price.
Making this endorsement possible are, among other things, a colour management system, and gamma controls.
There are also a few relatively low-level image processing tools, such as an edge enhancer and NR settings, but for the most part these are best left turned off.
Online features – A noted earlier, the 50PW450T won’t let you access LG’s online Smart TV system, despite having a LAN port. This is there to let you access any online features that might come about via the Freeview HD tuner, but so far there’s precious little action on that front.
Key omissions – Not having any online or DLNA functionality is a shame, if not really a surprise for the 50PW450T’s money. There doesn’t seem to be much going on with regard to ‘accelerating’ the 50PW450T’s panel to make it better suited for 3D playback, but maybe this won’t matter much.
Probably the single biggest on-paper weakness of the 50PW450T is that its resolution is not full HD, but rather one of those odd 1024×768 resolutions that most plasma brands abandoned as a dead loss at least a couple of years ago. So although the screen uses full HD-capable active 3D, the screen isn’t capable of showing full HD. Hmmm…