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LG 50PM9700

*Est. $1,185 to $1,665
Reviewed
October 2012
by ConsumerSearch
LG 50PM9700

Pros
  • Excellent streaming features
  • Good performance in well-lit rooms
  • Innovative remote control
Cons
  • Weak blacks compared to other plasmas
  • Color performance falls short
  • Can't turn off smoothing effect in most picture modes

Bottom Line

The LG PM9700 offers some of the best styling of any plasma TV, plus good streaming and interactive features. An innovative "Magic Motion" remote control makes navigating through menus and content much easier, at least once you get the hang of it. However, picture quality falls short compared to other plasma sets. The LG PM9700 is available in two screen sizes: the 50-inch 50PM9700 (*Est. $1,185) and the 60-inch 60PM9700 (*Est. $1,665).

Performance

Trails the plasma pack. CNET says the LG PM9700 could be the best plasma set the company has ever produced. The bad news is the competition hasn't exactly been standing still. Many reviewers say the TV still trails even mid-range offerings from Panasonic like the Viera ST50 and Samsung's E6500, let alone other companies' flagship models.

Black levels simply don't get very dark, says TelevisionInfo.com, and most experts concur. CNET says they do stand up well compared to a similarly priced LED set, but the difference when pitted against plasma sets from Samsung and Panasonic is "very noticeable."

The LG's color performance isn't bad, but neither is it perfect -- at least not out of the box, most say. CNET calls the colors vibrant and somewhat accurate, although some secondary colors are undersaturated. PCMag.com says the color gamut is accurate, but red and green channels look oversaturated. Watching the Blu-ray of "Piranha" as a viewing test, Will Greenwald writes, "Colors also looked slightly off, with the usually warm, sun-drenched party scenes appearing overcast." He adds, however, that the PM9700 offers enough adjustability that you can tweak things to get colors on the screen right.

In the eyes of many reviewers, the biggest negative is the set's smoothing feature, used to remove an artifact known as judder from content originally captured on film instead of directly onto videotape. It can be turned off only in the set's Game mode, which has fewer picture controls than other modes. Some people like the super-smooth look dejudder provides in film-based content; others can't stand it, saying it makes everything look like it was recorded directly to video and derisively dubbing it the "soap opera effect." Most experts fall into the second camp. Greenwald says the smoothing effect is "artificial and off-putting," while CNET's Ty Pendlebury calls it "overbearing." If you have the same reaction to dejudder processing, that could make the PM9700 a set to avoid.

On a positive note, the PM9700 is a superb performer in well-lit rooms. The weaker native blacks are much less of an issue in such a setting, and the TV uses a matte screen and filter system that experts say do a great job of controlling glare and reflections from light sources and windows. Like most plasmas, viewing angles and screen uniformity are top shelf.

Power consumption is much higher than an LED set, but about average for a plasma TV. Only the 50-inch 50PM9700 is Energy Star qualified.

Features

Remote makes streaming features even better. One big challenge in using a "smart" TV is navigating through the various menus and interfaces with a standard clicker -- not a very smart or fun way to go about things. Instead, LG's Magic Motion remote senses hand motions to move an onscreen cursor. Controls are minimal, which makes it generally easy to use, although PCMag.com complains that a scroll wheel used as a click button for the cursor also changes channels, which can be frustrating until you get the hang of using the remote. Reviews indicate that users who put up with the relatively short get-acquainted phase usually enjoy the Magic Remote. For those who don't, LG packs a regular remote control with the PM9700, as well.

LG organizes its streaming features using its Smart Hub interface, and gets high marks for versatility and usability. The stable of content providers is extensive, missing only Amazon Instant among the biggies. The set is DLNA compliant and has Wi-Fi built in. It's also one of the few TVs to have an Intel WiDi adapter built-in, which means the PM9700 can wirelessly display anything that's on the display of a laptop with WiDi capabilities.

While LG's LED sets feature passive 3D -- which is well liked by casual viewers and most reviewers but few videophiles -- the PM9700 instead goes the active-shutter route. Some experts find no significant issues with 3D performance but others find it disappointing, for various reasons. CNET complains of excessive ghosting, while PCMag.com says the 3D effect works well but the active-shutter glasses "produced a headache-inducing flickering effect if I looked at any light source besides the HDTV." Glasses aren't included and LG's specs cost about $45 per pair. The PM9700 is supposed to be compatible with glasses from other makers, but CNET says that didn't work very well.

Design

Stunning, at least for a plasma. While LED TVs -- especially LG's offerings -- definitely have more sizzle in the looks department than plasma TVs, there's a bit of styling at play here. The plastic bezel gets a treatment that makes it look like brushed metal, and the bezel is as trim as is possible on a plasma set. The most controversial style element is the set's stand. Saying it looks like the letter M or W, TelevisionInfo.com calls it a "refreshing and modern design that really sets the PM9700 series apart from TVs with the usual plastic rectangle stand." CNET, on the other hand, calls it strange: "a metallic concoction that looks a little like alien fingers, or a boomerang if I'm kind," says Ty Pendlebury, who likes that the stand is mostly hidden by the set itself.

Connectivity is exemplary, including four HDMI inputs and the aforementioned WiDi link. Likewise with the remotes, including the fun-to-use Magic Motion version and the standard clicker.

Value

Attractively priced for a flagship set. The PM9700 looks like a good bargain compared to the flagship plasmas from competitors Samsung and Panasonic. It's well equipped with cutting-edge features that do a reasonable job. The fly in the ointment is that picture quality falls short compared to those sets, and even compared to some sets that cost still less.

image
LG 60PM9700 60" Class Full HD 1080p Plasma 3D Smart TV, Bundle - with Two LG AG-S350 PDP SG 3D Glasses
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New: $1,799.00
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Where To Buy
VideoSecu Tilting TV Wall Mount Bracket for LG 47" 50" 55" 60" 47LM4700 47LM4600 50PA5500 50PA6500 50PM4700 50PM6700 50PM9700 50PA5500 55LS4500 55G2 55LM5800 55LM6200 55LM6700 55LM7600 55LM8600 55LM9600 55LS4600 55LS5700 55LS5750 60PA5500 60PA6500 60PM6700 60PM9700 HDTV TV with Free HDMI Cable BBM

 
Buy new: $99.95 $19.99   1 New from $19.99

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Our Sources

1. CNET

Review credibility: Excellent
CNET has both good news and bad news about the LG 50PM9700. Pendlebury says it's the best plasma TV LG has ever offered, but the picture quality of its plasma competitors is better still.

Review: LG 50PM9700 Review, Ty Pendlebury, July 25, 2012

2. TelevisionInfo.com

Review credibility: Excellent
TelevisionInfo.com has a kinder take on the LG 50PM9700, but it's not all that different from CNET's. The TV has a lot going for it, including innovative features and a great design, but picture quality suffers with blacks that don't stand up well to other plasma TVs.

Review: LG 50PM9700, Josh Fields, Sept. 24, 2012

3. PCMag.com

Review credibility: Excellent
Like other reviewers, PCMag.com finds lots of great features in the LG 50PM9700. Greenwald adds, however, that "disappointing picture quality makes them tough to recommend over similar-price models, including LED-based screens."

Review: LG 50PM9700, Will Greenwald, Aug. 13, 2012

4. ConsumerReports.org

Review credibility: Excellent
ConsumerReports.org includes a review of the 60-inch LG 60PM9700 in its latest update covering plasma TVs. Testing is conducted, and sets are ranked and rated. Discussion is briefer than what most top reviewers provide.

Review: LG 60PM9700, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated

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