Pros: 60" Size, 0.59" Border, Settings, Price Point, Power Consumption (For A Plasma), and Picture Quality
Cons: Inability To Custom Name Channels & Inputs, Glare (Depending On Room Lighting)
Allow me to start the review by providing some background on my HDTV experiences. I first dove into the HD market in 2009 with a Panasonic 50" S model after conducting a large amount of research to decide which direction I wanted to go. Plasma offered what was important to me: picture quality, viewing angles, black blacks, the best contrast, and an excellent price to performance ratio. Panasonic purchased the Pioneer plasma technology when they exited the market, so I was very well sold on the brand given Pioneer's excellent reputation as the "premier" plasma manufacturer. Fast forward three years later, and I developed the craving to upgrade my Mitsubishi CRT upstairs in my bedroom that served its purpose for 15 years with perfect performance, but couldn't compete with high definition signals these days. Given that part of my time spent on the new set would be on PS3 and Xbox 360, I was curious enough about the advancements made in the LED realm as of late to venture into that arena on the next purchase. Long story short, I had the Panasonic 55LE54 for approximately three weeks before returning it. It had a lot to offer, but in the end, what killed it for me was: poor viewing angles (compared to plasma, actually good compared to other LED's), lip synch issues on a variety of inputs, flashlighting, blooming, and just an overall feeling that LCD/LED sets are excellent for computer monitors, but not for all of the other things I'd be using it for. I'm typing this review on my desktop PC that's using a Sony 32" 1080P LCD monitor, and I wouldn't have it any other way. For movies and gaming, I had been spoiled by Panasonic's picture and simply couldn't deal with the issues that LED's are still contending with.
Once I decided that I definitely needed to stay in the plasma world on the next purchase, I began looking around and quickly had my eye caught by the LG 60PA6500 at Costco for $799 (Actually, to be specific, the 60PA6550, which is the club version of the 6500, but virtually identical in every way). At this price, it appeared hard to beat, given that current gen Panasonic's were in the neighborhood of $1,100 , and those models (U) only contain two HDMI inputs, and I have 4 devices to hook up (PS3, Roku XS, 360, and Sony Blu-Ray). I use a high quality splitter for the PS3 and 360, so that the settings on that input affect both systems, and I use a separate input altogether for the Roku, as it constantly puts out a signal in the form of a screensaver, which would interfere with a splitter operating correctly. Given Costco's 90 day return policy on televisions and low cost extended warranty program, I figured I'd give it a try even though I became a diehard Panasonic fan.
This set is large at 54" wide, but ironically, the exact width of the stand I purchased at Costco three years ago, and with a fair amount of weight to it at 80 pounds without the stand. Given its slim frame, I was able to get it to fit with my current stand my making a few, small modifications. It's surprising to some how much of an increase it is going from a 50" set to a 60". If you do the math on it, it's a jump of about 40% in overall screen real estate. A few "rules of thumb" I've come to value over the past several years regarding the HDTV world include: it will always look bigger and brighter at home than it did at the store, and secondly, buy HDTV's like you do 100% cotton t-shirts - a size bigger than you need, because they'll shrink over time. It sounds funny, but it's true. The 50" Pansonic replaced a 36" Sony WEGA and I was in heaven for the first year or so, but I began looking at the space pondering how much better a larger set would look in its place. I suppose its a fact of life that we, as human beings, acclimate over time and almost anything becomes "normal" after a while. . .
I should also add at this point that I fully realize that plasma sets always appear "darker" or "dingy" when it comes to white screens when viewed at the stores. This has a lot to do with two things. First, the fluorescent lighting is horrible for judging true quality. Second, LED's are overly bright, so by comparison, it really makes the plasma's more subdued look appear even more flat. Trust me when I say that these same sets that look dull at the retail stores will look significantly better at home under more normal viewing coniditons.
Dimensions: 54.6" x 14" (With Stand) x 34.8 Inches
Weight: 89.5 lbs (With Stand), 80.2 lbs (Without)
Maximum Power Consumption: 430 Watts
Refresh Rate: 600 Hz
USB Input: 1
Component Video In: 2
PC (D-sub 15pin) in: 1
PC Audio In: 1
Digital Audio Out: 1
AV In: 1
RF In (Antenna/Cable): 1
Audio: 10W 10W
Tuning System: ATSC / Clear QAM / NTSC
Dynamic Contrast Ratio:3,000,000:1
Maximum Resolution: 1080P (1920x1080)
Power Source: 100V - 240V, 50/60 Hz
Limited Warranty :2 year panel/1 year parts and labor from date of purchase
I have approximately 580 hours on my set since I purchased it. You can find this number with the following remote functions: Menu >> Red Button >> Product Info >> Usage Time. I should start by saying that from all of the research I did prior to buying the Panasonic, I came to the conclusion that the "safest" way to break a plasma in is by running full 1080P color slides for the first 100 hours. The set I use has about 120 slides of all different colors and shades (each slide is one color and it fills every pixel of the 1080P display). This approach worked so well on the Panasonic that I did the same with the LG. I set the slideshow to a medium speed setting and let it run for 6-8 hours per day until I've reached my 100 hours. The theory behind this approach is that the electrons in a plasma display are very "excitable" when new and for this reason, they have the potential to wear unevenly until they've "calmed" down. By displaying the exact same color in every pixel uniformly like this, it "ages" the panel perfectly and in such a way that would be impossible in real world viewing. Is this totally necessary? No, but in my perfectionistic and intolerant world, it's preferrable. The next tier of stability after the 100 hour mark occurs at 1,000 hours. At this point, the general consensus is that it would be very difficult to experience "burn in" if it hasn't happened already. I felt I should address this point, given that it's one of the last, hard to die factors that influence peoples' decisions in whether or not to buy a plasma. I should also note that by doing this on both sets, I have yet to experience anything beyond temporary image retention on either set even after playing games that contain static images on the screen for sometimes in upwards of 30 hours (obviously over many sessions).
Now, with that out of the way, I can say that I am very pleased with the overall picture of the 60PA6500. At first, it appeared a little less vibrant than my Panasonic, which may still be true 500 hours into my usage of it, but I will say that this has two benefits. First, I have thoroughly tested the wattage consumption of both sets using my Kill-A-Watt meter, and despite its screen that is 40% larger than the Panasonic, the LG tops out at about 430 watts at its brightest setting, while the Panasonic on "Vivid" mode can use as much as 540 watts. Second, I've come to the conclusion that this is a major advantage in terms of image retention, as the LG is much less prone to it than my Panasonic. Even earlier tonight, I was playing Far Cry 3 for about two hours and I went to a dark grey full screen slide after I finished to look for any image retention, only to find a very faint outline where the static health and mini map indicators were at and it faded completely after about a half hour of television viewing.
I should also add that the LG on "APS Power Saving" picture mode actually uses less power than a 52" Samsung LCD set that I tested. Plasmas power consumption varies greatly depending on the content being viewed, while LCD/LED's are very consistent regardless of what's being displayed. The Samsung I mentioned used 180 watts when I tested it, regardless of what was being viewed. The LG in APS Power Saving mode in a typically lit room never exceeds 200 watts, and generally hovers between 65 and 100 watts when watching at night. Turning down the brightness really makes a big difference if you're concerned with overall power consumption.
The LG has a large number of settings that can be tweaked, far more than any Panasonic on the market. I also like the fact that all six modes' settings are saved for each input, while other sets, like the Panasonic only have unique settings under "Custom", which means one unique setting per input. This allows a person to have a variety of settings for each input and then pick the one that best suits the content being viewed at that particular time.
I really like the "orbiter" function on the LG, as it visibly shifts the screen around approximatley every two minutes to avoid any type of image retention. I can honestly say that I never saw any noticeable effects of Panasonic's orbiter in the three years I've owned it. It might be happening, but I can't see it. I should also note that with the orbiter function on, you might notice a black border on the left or right side of the picture being larger than the other side. This will change over the course of ten minutes, so don't worry and just rest assured that the set is doing what's in its best interest.
A lot of people complain about the audio on today's HDTV's, but I have to say that I'm perfectly happy with the output of this set. I have a high end Harman Kardon surround system, which I use for movies and gaming, but for regular television viewing, the built in speakers are more than adequate to keep me happy.
I do wish that LG provided the ability to custom name inputs and cable channels like Panasonics do, but unfortunately not. There are about half a dozen pre-set names for inputs, such as: game, blu-ray, set top box, etc. With the Panasonic, I can name them "Xbox 360" or "Roku". I have my cable connection going directly into the back of the set without a box and unless the channel carries the info with it, there's no way to add it manually. Not the end of the world, but it would have been a nice addition.
Overall, I really like the picture of this set. With the number of settings available, a person should definitely be able to tailor it to their liking. From what I've read, LG really improved the black level on this 6500 series from previous offerings.
This LG rectified all of the problems I experienced with the LED set I returned. No lip sync issues whatsoever, no flashlighting, no blooming, excellent viewing angles, and an overall picture with much more depth to it. I'm disappointed to see the heavy dominance of LCD/LED's in today's marketplace, because I'm a true believer in plasma technology. If you ask the salespeople at the various stores (particularly the higher end ones) what they have at home, you'll hear plasma the majority of the time. Everyone needs to decide what's important to them and ultimately, that will guide their decision. For me, plasma technology in general, whether it be from LG, Samsung, or Panasonic, offers the absolute best price to performance ratio out in the marketplace today.