Even by LG's usual high-value standards, the 42PQ6000 looks like a bargain.

For, despite boasting a screen that's beautifully adorned with a glossy black bezel and 'single sheet' glassy finish, the panel costs just £580. So what's had to give to make this possible?

Features

The cut corners start to materialise right away, as we notice the set only has three HDMIs and, what's more, its resolution is an HD Ready 1024 x 768 pixels, rather than full HD.

Panasonic remains the only brand offering full HD resolutions on 42in plasma TVs, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that full HD resolutions are routinely available on LCD TVs of comparable size.

In typical LG style, though, that's where the 42PQ6000 stops being a budget set. Its connections, for example, unexpectedly include a USB 2.0 port capable of playing DivX, MP3 and JPEG files in SD.

Then there's the set's 600Hz engine. This doesn't actually refresh the image 600 times per second, but instead uses processing to add enough extra image frames to create that effect. But despite the slightly fudged numbers, the 42PQ6000's 600Hz efforts should, hopefully, still deliver a boost to the image's stability and fluidity.

The 42PQ6000 even delivers an impressive array of picture tweaks, such as a wide colour gamut mode and an edge enhancement circuit. In fact, its adjustments are wide ranging enough for an Imaging Science Foundation expert to calibrate the TV professionally.

Ease of use

The remote, while a little lightweight, is really well laid out, and its onscreen menus combine big, clear graphics and text with a totally logical organisation.

The only tiny negative is that the text in the set's sub-menus looks a little 'low res'.

Picture

Sadly, the 42PQ6000 fails to impress when it comes to picture quality.

Particularly galling is the extent to which the screen suffers from that old plasma problem of image retention, where ghostly traces of some onscreen graphics linger on screen for a few seconds longer than required. Any sort of image retention is tough to accept now that rival brands seem to have pretty much eradicated it.

LG 42pq side

The 42PQ6000's colour response is also a letdown. For, as well as looking less dynamic and vibrant than most liquid crystal-based rivals, especially where standard definition video is concerned, the 42PQ6000's colour tones are all over the place.

Reds tend to appear orange or even slighty brown; people often look as if they've spent too long under a sun lamp, while whites are just plain murky. These problems are reduced during high-definition viewing, but never totally disappear.

The 42PQ6000 also falls short of some plasma television when it comes to black level response, especially when it comes to reproducing shadow detail in dark areas of the picture. The 42PQ6000's standard definition pictures, meanwhile, aren't just let down by the occasional, previously mentioned tonal issues.

For also, while they can look reasonably sharp on occasions, this clarity is patchy, and is often accompanied by excessive video noise. What's more, the 42PQ6000 also often demonstrates a pretty rough and ready approach to colour blending and this is especially noticeable during standard definition footage.

Finally in the negative column, the 600Hz engine didn't suppress judder as effectively as we'd hoped.

Thankfully, there are a few areas of good news that prevent the 42PQ6000's pictures from being an unmitigated disaster. It can, at least, show high-definition footage with an extreme degree of sharpness – though we'd warn you to steer clear of the set's Edge Enhancer, as this leaves images looking unpleasantly gritty.

Next, although its black levels look a bit hollow, they are still deeper during movie viewing than most standard liquid crystal TVs. The picture is also reasonably bright for a plasma screen provided you avoid the set's OTT Eco settings, and there's no loss of colour or contrast if you have to watch the TV from an oblique angle.

Sound

The 42PQ6000's large bezel helps it sound quite good. It delivers vocals with a nicely rounded tone, has plenty of clarity without sounding harsh, can open up successfully to accommodate an action scene and its soundstage doesn't fall apart when asked to produce some bass.

Value

We'd hoped to be giving the 42PQ6000 full marks for this section, but in the final analysis, its average picture quality means there are more attractive options to be had elsewhere without spending substantially more money.

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