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LG plasma TVs have good value, but so-so picture quality

In a year where plasma sets from Panasonic and Samsung are drawing rave reviews for picture quality, that seems to be the last reason to opt for an LG plasma TV. However, value-oriented buyers might very well like what they see in the flagship LG 60PH6700 (Est. $1,000) ; that 60-inch set is the only screen size in this series.

Getting the bad news out of the way first, black levels are simply not competitive. They are bettered by even some mid-tier LED TVs, and blown out of the water by most of this year's Samsung and, especially, Panasonic plasma sets -- including some cheap plasma TVs. You could mitigate some of that by viewing the set in a room with moderate rather than limited lighting, but be careful; the glossy screen and lack of light filtering means that the LG 60PH6700 is highly susceptible to glare.

The LG 60PH6700 does have some redeeming picture qualities, however. Color performance is top shelf, both accurate and well saturated. Where some sets have trouble differentiating details in shadowy scenes, the LG 60PH6700 shows excellent shadow detail. As with almost all plasma TVs, viewing angles, motion performance and screen uniformity are no issue at all.

LG trails only Samsung in the variety and ingenuity of its features. LG's Magic Motion remote is well received by most. It makes the process of pointing at and clicking through menus easier, though Televisions' Josh Fields says that using it for basic tasks "is a chore." The LG Smart TV platform is modestly upgraded, with an On Now recommendation engine that is similar -- and better liked by some -- to the one that's part of Samsung's On TV platform (see our discussion of the Best Samsung Plasma TVs for more information). The lineup of streaming providers is good, as long as you are not a heavy Amazon Instant user. There's also 3D -- and this is the only LG plasma TV to include that feature this year. One disappointment -- there are no 3D glasses in the box.

Critics who like the LG 60PH6700 largely cite value as to why. "What's really shocking is how inexpensive the PH6700 is," says Josh Fields at Televisions. Even CNET's Ty Pendlebury, who is a lot less impressed with this TV, admits that "the LG 60PH6700 offers a big screen for relatively little money." That value proposition only improves when you consider this set's extras.

Few other LG plasma TVs get very much in the way of professional or even user reviews. We did find some feedback on the 50-inch LGPN6500 (Est. $600) . This set has a lot in common with the LG PH6700, but strips away practically all features, including the Magic Remote, Smart TV platform and 3D.'s Jack Burden has some nice things to day about the LGPN6500's picture quality, while admitting that blacks are only "average" for a plasma set and that brightness and color saturation suffer compared to offerings from Panasonic and Samsung. Value is excellent, however: "I mean if you just want a good 1080p HD picture for a darker room at home how can you beat $599," Burden says. A 60-inch version, the LG 60PN6500 (Est. $800) , is also offered.

The LG PN5300 gets a so-so rating at This is a bare-bones plasma TV with good color and blacks that are decent for its price, but far from terrific. Will Greenwald's bottom-line assessment is that "The LG PN5300 series is a solid choice if you want to pay very little for a large plasma HDTV, although it's not a top-level performer." Available sets are the 60-inch LG 60PN5300 (Est. $700) and 50-inch LG 50PN5300 (Est. $550) .

LG Electronics 60PH6700 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz Active 3D Plasma HDTV with Smart TV (Black) (2013 Model)
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