In the “me-to” world of plasma displays, it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. LG has taken a unique approach in this regard by integrating a high-def digital video recorder (DVR) into their 50PC1DRA, eliminating the need for one set-top box in the home theater system.
The input complement is adequate, with two HDMI, two component, One Box Fewer processor boasts 14-bit color processing, which should result in smoother color gradations than processors that use fewer bits (though, as I’ll explain, it doesn't seem to deliver on that promise).
DVR The integrated DVR uses a 160GB hard drive to record up to 15 hours of HD programs or 66 hours of standard-def content from a terrestrial antenna or noncopy- protected cable signal. To timeshift live TV, you must manually engage the Timeshift function. Once that’s done, the DVR temporarily records, or buffers, whatever is being displayed on the TV, and you can pause, rewind, and replay up to one hour.
If you change channels while timeshifting, the buffer retains what was recorded before the change, which is unusual—most DVRs dump the buffer from the previous channel. On the downside, there is no way to tell the DVR to permanently save the entire buffer; it will only start saving after you initiate permanent recording.
You save programs in one of three ways. First, you can press the record button, which immediately starts saving the current program, and lets you add or subtract record time in 10-minute increments to encompass a total time of 10 minutes to 3 hours. To record less than 1 hour, you must decrement the record time to 1 hour, exit, then re-enter and decrement to the desired length, which is totally bogus. Unfortunately, you can’t continue recording until you stop it manually or the hard disk runs out of storage space.
The second way is to program it with the desired date, channel, start and end times, and frequency. A third way is to select programs to record in the TV Guide On Screen program guide. In all cases, you can change channels and watch something else while the intended recording continues, and the program being recorded appears in a PIP window, which can be made to disappear. You can also organize recorded programs into folders, which is great for organizing.
There’s even a rudimentary editing function, which LG calls Xstudio Pro. This lets you save a user-definable section of a recorded program as a separate file, a feature that is not available with most standalone DVRs.As I was playing with the DVR, I found that recordings of 4:3 content were played back in a stretched aspect ratio, filling the 16:9 screen. I discovered that the aspect ratio was set to 16:9 for DVR playback, even though it was set to Set By Program for live TV. Changing the setting during DVR playback fixed the problem.
two S-video, two composite, and one VGA. Also included are two RF inputs (antenna, cable), a CableCARD slot, and RS232 for software upgrades and advanced controlsystems. ATV Guide On Screen electronic program guide is provided to compensate for CableCARD's incompatibility with your cable company's EPG.With a pixel resolution of 1366x768, the 50PC1DRA claims a contrast ratio of up to 10,000:1, which, as usual, is overly optimistic. LG’s XD Engine video
As with most TVs these days, the remote is a universal design that can control up to five devices in addition to the display. The only lit buttons are those that select the device to control. There are no buttons to directly select inputs; instead, the Input button cycles through the inputs and calls up a list; it should do one or the other. Better still, the remote should have direct-access buttons.
The menu system is well-labeled, but the organization could be better. For example, the user picture controls are buried three levels deep. When adjusting a picture control, the main menu remains on the screen, the selected control remains in its position, and the other controls disappear. This makes it somewhat difficult to see the image you're using to adjust the control, which should move to the bottom of the screen while the rest of the menu disappears.
As usual, the out-of-box condition was poor, with brightness and contrast too high, color decoder incorrect, and grayscale too blue. Selecting the presets for the User 1 picture mode and Warm color temp got the grayscale closest to correct, and from there it was possible to bring brightness, contrast, color, and tint into line. There was little edge enhancement to contend with, which is rare and welcome.
Starting with the HQV Benchmark DVD, detail looked good, though there was a bit of shimmering in the color pattern. Low-angle diagonals were not very good, and the waving flag had lots of jaggies.