In the ever-changing fight between LCD and plasma televisions, innovation is the key to winning over consumers. To that end, LG has released a new ultra-thin plasma television which is both aesthetically pleasing and feature-packed. The panel on the 42PG60UD is slim compared to other units on the market, and rather than have a protruding bezel around the viewing area, the border around the screen is beneath the glass. When we heard about a television that "took it to the edge" we were expecting no black border around the viewing area at all. While this isn't quite what we received, we were still nonetheless impressed with the unit as a whole.
The design of the 42PG60UD simplifies LG's past efforts while remaining attractive. Looking at the unit from the side you instantly notice the effort that has gone in to making the unit much thinner than most plasma televisions. Also, the bottom of the panel curves inward where the "hidden" speakers are located. While a subtle design choice, it definitely lends an air of sophistication to the unit.
The 42PG60UD has an integrated HDTV tuner and a wide range of connection options. The rear panel supports three HDMI, two component, and one composite connection as well as a D-Sub port for PC. On the side is a further composite connection together with S-Video and a USB 2.0 port.
The feature set of the 42PG60UD is quite robust with 100Hz technology and easy to use calibration options. The on-screen menu system is intuitive allowing the user to tweak the image without complication. While customised image quality is good for some users, there are also four preset image modes for those that don't want to spend the time required to achieve it. Each is catered to what you are watching and are content appropriate with the exception for the "movie" mode which we felt lacked contrast. The USB port on the side of the unit is used to view images in JPEG format or listen to music in MP3 format (DRM files excluded).
The 42PG60UD has a native resolution of 1024x768. While it can accept 1080p images via scaling, its native resolution is best suited to 720p media. To test the 42PG60UD, we ran it through a series of 1080p Blu-ray films and 720p video games. We also tested standard-def performance, the LG's 100Hz motion capabilities, and evaluated the effectiveness of the LCD's invisible speaker system.
We witnessed very little interpolation artefacts and 1080p scaling was performed quite well. There was a little vertical pixelation at times, particularly on curved edges but this wasn't a major problem when viewing from a comfortable viewing distance.
At 720p the image quality didn't suffer from any major visual aberrations other than minor correctable over-sharpening. A quick visit to the on-screen menu alleviated the problem. We were particularly impressed with the black levels on this unit which, while not at Pioneer "Kuro" standards, were rich while losing very little image detail. Colours were equally impressive with no overbearing tones.
Naturally, the 576p DVD tests were fraught with interpolation artefacts but no more than expected. There was a little discolouration in background textures but it was not severe and will not impact on the viewing experience. DVD viewers should be more than satisfied by the set's image quality.
The 100Hz motion option worked reasonably well and was not as overt as we have seen on other televisions. It still tended to make the image look a little fake, but it didn't cause any image quality problems to speak of.
Sound quality on the 42PG60UD was excellent with a wide dynamic range and well-balanced sound. While it can't compete with a home theatre speaker system it was definitely a cut above many other units we have reviewed.
The LG 42PG60UD is an excellent plasma television. While it's not quite as advanced as many of the 1080p units on the market today, customers still looking at units in the 720p arena will be entirely satisfied.