LG 50pk990

Ignore the £2,000+ screens from Philips and Loewe and you'll almost never find speakers on a flatscreen TV that could be described as acceptable.

LG doesn't pull off any kind of coup in this area, with its two 10W speakers struggling to make sense of Blu-ray soundtracks.

There's scant distortion if you pump up the volume, but too little power to make high octane music seem credible.

Dialogue scenes from films – and speech-dominated broadcast channels – on the other hand, are wholly adequate and, compared to smaller screens, the 50PK990 does a sterling job with everyday speech-heavy TV channels. There is a Clear Voice II feature, though in practice it doesn't prove of much use.

Sound advice

So if you're upgrading from a smaller flatscreen TV (say, a 32-incher), you'll notice a touch more depth to sound on the 50PK990, but on the whole a separate sound system is recommended. And with TVs getting thinner by the month, that advice is likely to become a constant war cry in reviews of TV of all sizes.

But kudos goes to LG for making this advanced plasma a cinch to operate. In previous incarnations the user interface was simplicity defined, and although this screen's myriad features does clutter the system slightly, it's still one of the most streamlined and sensible around.

Picture wizard

A key success is Picture Wizard, which makes calibrating straightforward, though there's plenty more where that came from; alongside conducting – and saving – your own settings (and even a couple of slots for Imaging Science Foundation Expert modes, should you wish to enlist the help of a professional calibrator) from Picture Wizard, LG presents some innovative presets.

Alongside the usual games, sports and energy saving modes, there are two key picture settings – THX Cinema and THX Bright Room. The former is a fantastic time saver and shows a real attention to detail.

Screen burn?

The Freeview HD auto-tune screen creeps around the panel while it searches for channels, presumably to prevent screen burn. And although screen burn is a slight worry, in practice indented images (logos, graphics and on-screen menus) are only occasionally visible and shouldn't dissuade anyone from buying the 50PK990.

The eight-day EPG for Freeview HD is a tad basic, with schedules for only five channels over two hours presented on the screen, though there's also a Quick menu button that brings up a box containing a list of channels to scroll through.

Net Cast and DLNA networking are easier to set up than on most TVs, though neither are particularly impressive. Though the YouTube interface includes a quick and helpful search function, Net Cast needs more content (and an even sleeker interface) to compete with the likes of Viera Cast, while DLNA networking is beset by the problem of having to navigate through a PC's root file system to find the content you want, so it is messy to operate.

Ditto the content on USB sticks, though digital media files themselves are suavely dealt with. As well as being able to play umpteen file types (MOV, MP4, MPEG, WMV, DivX HD and WMV HD video, JPEG photos and MP3 music files), the files are quick to load and play, with irritating 'file not supported' pop-ups refreshingly rare. Now that's a nice change.