Plasma panels are becoming rarer, and the ones that remain are moving upmarket to appeal to well-heeled home theater enthusiasts. But you can still find budget plasma HDTVs that can shave a few dollars off the cost of a similarly priced LED-backlit LCD HDTV. The LG PN5300 is one such HDTV line. This 60-inch 60PN5300 screen can be found for $799.99 (list), and while it offers few features and middling picture quality, its price is right and it’s functional enough to be useful.
The 60PN5300 is completely plain, with a flat, black bezel distinguished only by an LG logo and a power light on the bottom edge. A row of buttons sit on the back of the left edge of the screen, including Power, Channel Up/Down, volume Up/Down, Confirm, Menu, and Source. The connection options are minimal, with a single HDMI port and a single USB port sitting on the back of the screen facing left, and a second HDMI port, an antenna/cable input, component video inputs, and optical audio output sit facing back. The PN5300 has only two HDMI ports, very few for a screen this size when most have twice as many.
The remote control is small, flat, and unexciting, with square buttons that aren’t backlit and are clustered together into a cramped layout. The direction pad for menu navigation feels just like the other buttons under the thumb, making changing settings slightly awkward. Fortunately, you won’t be using the remote for menu navigation nearly as much as many other HDTVs simply because there aren’t many menus to navigate. There are no online features or services to browse, so you’ll only be going through the HDTV’s settings unless you want to play media from a USB drive.
As a budget HDTV, the PN5300 is barebones almost to a fault. There are no online services, no Internet connection, no 3D, and no other fancy features. The most you’ll get is the Simplink button on the remote to access connected media. This is little more than a monitor.
We test HDTVs with a Klein K10-A colorimeter, DisplayMate’s test patterns, and SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5 software after basic darkroom calibration. The PN5300 doesn’t get particularly bright, reaching a maximum of 135.9656 cd/m2. Its black level of 0.0449 cd/m2 is decent for a budget plasma screen, but not especially dark, and these middling levels make a contrast ratio of 3,028:1. It performs well for its price, but it isn’t amazing. Color accuracy is similarly decent but not perfect, as seen in the color chart below. The squares represent the ideal color levels based on CIE standards and the dots represent the measured levels. Red was slightly oversaturated and whites veered a little warmer than ideal, but all colors were in acceptable range.
I watched Piranha on Blu-ray, and it looked fairly good for a budget HDTV. The colors looked spot-on, with flesh tones appearing accurate and no significant tinting in any direction. The mediocre black levels and not particularly bright panel washed out some shadow details, however, and the murky water scenes looked pale and devoid of detail. Brighter scenes above the water looked more even, but highlights still appeared slightly blown out, and the brightest parts of the picture also suffered from loss of detail. These are expected issues with any budget HDTV, and while not ideal they aren’t deal-breakers. The film still looked generally nice, showing off sun, rocks, skin, and blood evenly.
Like most plasma HDTVs, the PN5300 is a power hog. With energy saving features turned off, it consumes an average of 295 watts under normal use. With energy saving set to Minimum, the screen barely changes and it consumes an average of 276 watts. The Medium energy saving setting darkens the screen slightly but keeps it watchable and cuts power consumption by a third to an average of 205 watts. The Maximum energy saving setting darkens the screen too much to be watchable. If you really want an HDTV that saves energy, look for a similarly sized LED-backlit LCD HDTV like the Vizio E601I-A3, which uses just 103 watts, and stay away from plasma altogether.
The LG 42PN5300 is an inexpensive HDTV that performs, well, like an inexpensive HDTV. It’s a budget performer at a budget price, but considering how low that price is and how watchable the picture is, that’s fine. Its biggest drawbacks are its lone two HDMI ports and its uncomfortable remote. But if you treat this more like a big monitor you’ll only hook up your cable box and connected Blu-ray player/game console to, it’s enough to get the job done.
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI|
|Diagonal Screen Size||60 inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||600Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc