LG 60PS80 Plasma HDTV Page 3
The LG’s video processing in the Expert1 mode, apart from a failure of the 2:2 tests (a common weakness in many displays we’ve reviewed) was excellent—with some minor exceptions. It showed moiré on the Vatican wall in chapter 7 of Mission: Impossible III (Blu-ray) but handled the stair test in chapter 8 cleanly.
Despite the measurable but visibly subtle gray-scale shifts, which should settle down over time, the too-wide color gamut, and the ineffective color management system, the LG’s subjective color balance was extremely close to that of a calibrated Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-141FD plasma when I compared the two displays side by side with the same source material. The only difference was the LG’s subtly (and I do mean subtly) richer color.
This puzzles the techno-purist in me a bit. But past experience has shown that some color gamut shifts can be hard to spot, and changes in the white balance of several hundred degrees are often innoc-
uous. Does that mean calibrations are a waste? Hardly, since many sets are off by more than a few hundred degrees, and that is visible. But as noted above, I would recommend putting a few months of heavy use on this set before you pay for a calibration.
Having said all that, the LG’s subjective color was always pleasing—and often addictive. No live-action material looked over the top (well, maybe Speed Racer, but it would be a stretch to call that live action). The LG’s colors are just a little punchier to the eye than reality demands, and most of the time, the enhancement isn’t noticeable.
The LG’s black level was disappointing. It also uses a now common technique in black level camouflage. When a source first drops to full black, the black level measures at one level. About five seconds later, it drops to nearly half that value. This is irrelevant in normal use; with most program material, you’ll see the higher level. A full black fade rarely lasts long enough to trigger that lower drop.
The set’s weakness in absolute black level hampers it in darker scenes. When I perched the LG next to the Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-141FD and fed them the same Blu-ray source, there were striking differences on dark scenes with low inherent contrast, ranging from black to gray with few or no bright highlights. On these scenes, the LG’s picture had a foggy grayness compared with the Pioneer’s rich, deep blacks. The Pioneer’s black bars also nearly vanished on 2.35:1 movies in a darkened room, while the LG’s were always clearly visible.
However, the Pioneer is likely to be unavailable by the time you read this, not to mention that it is (was) more than twice the price of the LG. And on dark scenes with bright highlights, which is a very different and more common animal than low-contrast scenes, the LG did a more than respectable job. Spider-Man has many of these kinds of scenes, and on the LG they were effective enough to never pull me out of the movie. The LG also did well handling the dark street scenes in King Kong (2005), even the New York street sequence in chapter 48 where Kong and Ann Darrow re-ignite their… umm… whatever.
The LG’s Dynamic Contrast control did punch up darker scenes a bit. But I didn’t like the slightly garish look it gave to brighter material (even in Low), so I didn’t use it.
The LG has outstanding resolution—it was arguably even a bit crisper looking than the Pioneer. Within limits set more by your seating distance than the set itself, you won’t miss a thing. Its measured resolution is also impressive, although it’s slightly exaggerated at the extreme top end. You can easily tame this by using the LG’s H and V Sharpness controls together with a good HD test disc, such as the frequency bursts on the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray Edition.
But this tweak didn’t change the picture at all and was hardly worth the trouble. As long as the Sharpness controls are properly set using the normal methods (with a sharpness pattern on an HD test disc), the LG’s resolution of detail simply isn’t an issue. It retrieved every ounce of information in the superb Blu-ray transfer of Seven Years in Tibet—the spectacular shots of snow-covered mountains, the textures in fabrics, and even Brad Pitt’s acne scars.
The LG’s picture is bright and crystal clear. It’s less bright than most LCDs, but it’s plenty bright for any application outside of a sun porch. (The LG is about 30 percent brighter than the equivalent-sized Pioneer mentioned in this review.) It’s vividly colorful but not in an obviously exaggerated way. And it’s so detailed that you’ll see everything the source has to offer, limited only by your seating distance and visual acuity.
Around here, we tend to love sets that look great and measure beautifully. The LG satisfied only one side of that equation. My wish for a more accurate and stable color gamut and deeper blacks notwithstanding, the LG looks so good on most program material that I can’t come down on it too hard for its few technical short-comings. I enjoyed all the time I spent with it. You might like spending time with it as well.