Large screen televisions are one of the most popular product categories on the site. Consequently we've reviewed a lot of large-screen televisions including DLP rear projection systems and even an exclusive review of the Sharp LC65G5XSYS 65 inch LCD. Fujitsu provided us with a 63 inch plasma television: the Fujitsu P63XHA51. The performance of the 63 inch Fujitsu Plasma was stellar in several areas however, it did suffer a few issues that stopped it being as good as it could have been.
- Wide array of inputs, Excellent high definition performance, Attractive design
- Problems with standard definition and PC connections, expensive
While Fujitsu P63XHA51 is massive and performs well in high definition, the standard definition and PC modes could have been better.
Price$ 24,999.00 (AUD)
Fujitsu has opted for a silver colour scheme and for the most part it works quite well. The front bezel is understated with slightly rounded edges on each corner. The stand is solid and looks attractive due to a single piece of frosted glass which adds an air of sophistication to the unit.
The rear of the panel is easy to access and the input ports are laid out logically without requiring any intricate finger bending to plug in your AV sources. The P63XHA51 boasts one composite and one S-Video connection together with two component and one HDMI port. It also supports connection to a PC via 15pin D-Sub or DVI-D and has three sets of RCA audio jacks. In short, it can be connected to pretty much anything and has far more options than most similar panels on the market.
We had to do a double take when we went to connect the speakers to the sides of the panel as they seemed like they were the wrong size. The speakers don't extend from the top of the panel to the bottom as you would expect but are truncated and sit in the middle of each side of the viewing area. This looks a little out of place and really detracts from the overall aesthetic. We contacted Fujitsu to make sure there was no problem but they confirmed that they were the right ones; a design element that puzzled us no end.
As with most plasma televisions, setting up this unit was a tiring and painful process that required at least three people. Building the stand was fairly simple and required only 8 screws to affix the base to the support struts. However, getting the television onto the supports requires two people to hold the panel as a third screws it in. The speakers then need to be connected before the unit is ready for operation. The whole process took about 30-40 minutes. Thankfully, for most people, this is a one-off investment of time which isn't too much to ask.
Interface and Customisation
With every television we like to test image calibration settings and the Fujitsu didn't disappoint in this regard. In addition to the basic contrast, brightness and colour settings the menu system also gives the user the option to calibrate the individual colour elements separately. This is particularly useful for attaining realistic representation when watching movies. These settings are automatically stored as user preferences which can be re-applied at a later date should you choose to use one of the other preset schemas. The menu system as a whole is intuitive and simple to navigate, more so than many other units we have tested.
While the speakers are dwarfed by the panel, they do deliver high quality audio nonetheless. It is important to note that the bracket connecting them to the panel feels flimsy. When moving the television, the first instinct is to grab the speakers but doing this would bend the brackets very easily and cause irreparable damage. This problem notwithstanding, we were impressed by the range and fluidity of the sound. The bass and treble were both handled well. The separation was noticeable and when combined with the rich mid-tones, the overall soundscape is robust and pleasurable to experience. When it comes to sound, we can't fault the unit at all.
Standard Definition Testing
To test the standard definition capabilities of the unit we used three DVD tests including scenes from The Incredibles and the Lobby Scene from The Matrix together with the Philips CE 2006 Demo DVD; a useful tool for testing for visual aberrations.
The Incredibles is excellent for testing colour; we look for smooth transitions between shades and the accuracy of colour gradients. We discovered heavy stepping in colour gradients with blocky digital artifacts together with a lack of edge definition. Skin tones showed a fair amount of stepping as well and there was noticeable noise in dark areas. In block colours we saw some discolourations including a magenta tint appearing in mid-to-low greys.
The Matrix also showed this stepping problem as well as heavy noise in dark elements and a lack of definition in elements like debris. There was also a little discolouration in skin tones as well, but the green tint of the scene, a challenge for most televisions, was handled well without the discolourations we usually see in block textures.
The Philips CE 2006 Demo DVD contains a series of still images and high quality test videos designed to put any television set through its paces. It was designed by Philips to show off the quality of their own panels but we have adopted it as a testing tool as all the demonstrations are perfect for showing any problems a television may experience.
We tested the motion jitter of the unit and found that it handled slow movements well but struggled at higher speeds. We ran a World Cup soccer demonstration to test how well it will look when watching sporting events and found that the response time of the unit was quite good with no motion timing problems or ghosting. There was a slight pixilation at times due to some minor up-scaling errors but this wasn't a huge problem, especially when viewed from a reasonable viewing distance of about 2 metres. Once again, as in our other standard definition tests, there was noise on dark colours.
The sharpness tests showed a slight softening of edges and some aliasing along curved edges, however colours were exceptional and the contrast tests allowed the unit to shine, with good contrast between light and dark areas and rich, realistic blacks.
We suspected that the P63XHA51 may have had some problems when drawing certain greys so we also performed a series of tests from our Digital Video Essentials test DVD including greyscale and SMPTE colour bar tests. They confirmed that mid to low greys were a problem for the Fujitsu with noticeable noise in those areas.
High Definition Testing
To test the HD capabilities of the plasma we connected the Xbox 360 gaming console. Many of the standard definition problems instantly melted away. There was still a little noise in dark areas but it was fairly minimal. The sharpness issue was fixed but replaced with a little over sharpening causing some images to look unrealistic at times. The colour was exceptional and the refresh speed was excellent with no motion aberrations at all. The P63XHA51 loves high definition and revels in 720p signals. However, at 1080i the images were still of a consistently high calibre with no real issues. While we were disappointed with the standard definition performance, the high definition capabilities of the panel made up for it.
Connecting to a PC
We performed our PC tests using DisplayMate Video Edition and again felt the sting of disappointment. Running at a resolution of 1024x768 we found a slew of visual afflictions that detracted from our the overall score. The focus matrix tests were handled well but the dot moire patterns displayed noise and pixel fluctuations as well as edge convergence issues. On the very corners of the image there was a noticeable active blue line of sub-pixels down the entire left of the screen and a similar red line down the right. The image noise was also apparent in the greyscale bars from mid-tones all the way to black and also in the colour gradient tests from mid tone through to black. The colour text on block colour test was handled brilliantly with crisp and easy to read text but the block colour tests again showed noise in low green and all dark colours. Despite the poor performance in some tests, we were still impressed by the plasma's ability to draw bright and accurate colours. The SMPTE colour bar test was passed with flying colours but the lower portion of the screen had two grey bars that the panel chose to draw as plain black. As a PC monitor, the panel will pass well enough. It's not perfect though and there are other plasmas on the market that will do the job better. If you intend connecting this to a media centre PC, you should walk away fairly satisfied as many of these problems will most likely not present a problem at a viewing distance of around 2 metres or above.
Using a standard definition external set top box to view free-to-air television provides a more than respectable viewing experience. However, we found there were still a few instances of pixilisation and over-saturated colours that were eliminated when we switched over to a HDTV box. In HD, watching television was far more enjoyable with crisp, bright and well defined images. If you pick up this unit, do yourself a favour and grab a HD box as well. You will notice the difference.
Despite the problems that the Fujitsu P63XHA51 had in standard definition, we still quite liked this television overall. That said, we didn't enjoy the price tag. If you are going to spend $25,000 on a plasma, it needs to be perfect or very close. If you plan to use it for High Definition content, then you will probably never look back but free-to-air television and DVDs leave a little to be desired. However, with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray just around the corner, this could be the perfect accompaniment to your new HD video player.
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