LG 50pk990

Freeview HD will take another 18 months to finish rolling out across the UK, so if you're in an area that can only receive standard definition Freeview channels at present (find out at www.freeview.co.uk), you'll still be able to receive the usual channels.

And though future proofing is never a bad idea, bear in mind that, for now, you'll pay a small premium to have a Freeview HD tuner (prices are bound to drop post-World Cup).

If Freeview HD isn't coming to your area until 2011, it may be worth hanging on for a few months while prices for 'must have' Freeview HD tuners settle down.

If you can't wait, LG's 50PK990 is, at times, a sensational attempt an a high-end all-rounder.

We liked:

Slim all-in-one designs are de rigueur, but no other brand has come up with a TV design as alluring as on the 50PK990. Despite its thin frame, the provision of Freeview HD channels, as well as almost as many ins and outs, and multimedia support, helps justify the high price.

So too does its fabulous user interface, which makes calibration a speedy task. It's worth doing, too, to achieve some sharp, blur-free and colourful pictures – though a hi-def diet is recommended at this size.

We disliked:

Whether you could call the 50PK990 good value at this high price is a moot point; most of those extra features aren't likely to sway a buying decision, though arguably the TruBlack filter is worth stumping up for if Blu-ray is your main goal – with Freeview HD likely to be the clincher.

Even with TruBlack, the 50PK990 could do with a bit more contrast, while a screen this size is always going to show up inadequacies in broadcast TV – and on its full HD screen, regular Freeview channels underwhelm.

Verdict:

Big-screen plasmas are an increasingly rare breed, with only LG, Samsung and Panasonic devoted to the original flatscreen tech.

And while LG may be a jot behind its Japanese counterpart in terms of pure picture quality, the 50PK990 is deserving of its flagship status because of the way it combines some diverse features – such as USB playback, Net Cast, Bluetooth and Freeview HD – and delivers it with an ease of use that's not yet been matched by any other brand.

This review was written in conjunction with:

What Video & Hi-Def TV magazine

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