A full suite of processing and editing tools
- Excellent performance in standard and high definition modes, Attractive design, Wide range of calibration options
- Minor issues in PC mode, Speakers are too small for the panel, A little costly
The Fujitsu PlasmaVision P50XHA58EB is an excellent plasma panel capable of delivering superb high definition images, as well as convincing standard definition images.
Price$ 9,997.00 (AUD)
The Fujitsu PlasmaVision P50XHA58EB is a 50in plasma display panel with a native resolution of 1366x768. Aimed squarely at the high-end AV enthusiast, this panel comes with a high price tag, but considering its pristine image quality, it's expensive for a reason. In our standard and high definition tests, the unit performed exceptionally, but when testing the PC mode we detected minor faults. In addition to the image quality, we were also grabbed by the calibration options for this panel. The level of detail and incredible amount of control being offered to the end-user by Fujitsu is almost unheard of. With the right knowledge, this unit can be calibrated to produce true colour without compromise.
High definition (720p/1080i)
To test the high definition capabilities of this unit we ran a number of tests in 720p and 1080i modes. To test gaming on the P50XHA58EB, we connected an Xbox 360 at 720p and ran Tony Hawk's Project 8 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. The image quality was nothing short of incredible. There were no image noise or contrast problems and the level of detail was excellent. The unit handled motion well with no ghosting and fine details like dust particles were rendered without pixelation. At its default settings, there was a moderate level of over-sharpening but we were able to remove it with calibration.
At 1080i, we viewed the Empire State Building finale from the HD-DVD version of King Kong and were, once again, taken aback. There was a slight amount of noise in the clouds in one part of the scene, but from a comfortable viewing distance this wasn't noticeable. The colours were accurate and the level of detail, particularly in Kong's fur, was flawless. Skin tones were also impeccably reproduced with no contrast stepping at all.
For our final high definition test, we ran the HD-DVD high definition edition of Digital Video Essentials at 720p resolution. We found whites to be a little dull in the colour tests, but the rest of the colours were flawless. The greyscale tests were all rendered without discolouration and with an excellent blend along the greyscale ramp. There were no problems in any of the resolution tests and the geometry tests were displayed without error.
As a whole, it's hard to fault the high definition mode of this panel. It works well for both gaming and movies and it's sure to please both target markets.
Standard definition (576i/p)
We viewed the lobby scene from The Matrix on DVD for the first of our standard definition tests. There was a noticeable amount of noise due to scaling but it was no more than what we have come to expect from standard definition. There was no discolouration on background textures and no pixelation to speak of. We found that if you use any of the aspect ratio zoom options then some stepping can occur on skin tones. As such, we advise against trying to remove the letterbox effect when watching movies as it will decrease the image quality.
For our second test we used the standard definition DVD edition of Digital Video Essentials. Surprisingly, the results were on-par with its HD brethren and we once again found no problems in any of the tests. Even though the panel needs to scale the images to the native resolution of the panel, there was still no noise in any of the greyscale tests and no problems in any of the colour tests.
Something that makes this panel just a little more special than most (and helps justify the price tag) is its extensive list of calibration options. The on-screen menus are easy to understand and simple to navigate. While some of the options are very basic, there are some image-tweaking tools that we've never seen before, yet always wished were available to us. You can calibrate the RGB colour levels separately, or you can target one of seven specific colour elements (red, green, blue, magenta, cyan, yellow and white) and then tweak the RGB intensities within that colour. There are also various noise reduction modes and two types of contrast controls (an extra one for the signal). While some of you may never use these options, we're nonetheless glad to see them included. Whether you have the know-how or you enlist the help of a technician, these features will give you complete control over the image quality, to an extent that we have never seen on a plasma panel before.
Plasma panels rarely work flawlessly via PC connections and, with this consideration in mind, we ran tests using DisplayMate Video Edition. We expected some aberrations when testing the P50XHA58EB, but apart from some pixel fluctuations in the vertical resolution and moire tests, we found none. We ran the tests at a resolution of 1360x768 so these fluctuations were clearly a result of scaling that extra 6 lines of pixels required to reach the native resolution (1366x768). As such, this is hardly anything to worry about and won't affect general PC use. The rest of the tests were delivered flawlessly and the desktop looked great with no over-sharpening on text or desktop icons. If you're a media centre PC user, you'll no doubt be happy with this model.
Design and sound
The PlasmaVision range comes in two different colours - black or silver. We reviewed the black edition. The unit is attractive with a piano-black bezel, rounded edges and black glass stand. The rear inputs are fiddly and require a little persistence, but the range of high definition inputs makes up for the inconvenience. The P50XHA58EB has two HDMI and two Component connections for HD sources and one S-Video and one composite connection for SD sources. There is also a VGA D-Sub port for connecting a PC to the panel. As this is a display panel, it doesn't have a TV tuner. If you want to watch free-to-air TV on the unit, you'll need to buy a set-top box.
The speakers produce excellent sound, even at high volumes, and we were impressed by the level of bass they achieved without a dedicated sub-woofer. However, we had a problem with the size of the speakers. When attached to the panel, the speakers don't span from the top to the bottom of the bezel. They seem to be too small for this unit. We couldn't help but feel these speakers looked wrong on the unit and those buying the P50XHA58EB may want to consider using a home theatre system rather than tarnish the overall aesthetic.
The Fujitsu PlasmaVision P50XHA58EB is an excellent unit capable of delivering superb high definition images while also being able to convincingly deliver standard definition images. Its PC mode works far better than most plasma panels we've reviewed and the overall design is quite attractive. No matter what device you plan to use the panel with, it should have no problems at all rising to the task.
The price quoted on this page is the cost of the P50XHA58EB as we reviewed it. At the time of publication, the unit had an RRP of $8999, but this doesn't include the stand or the speakers. Both accessories were included in our review unit and we therefore added them to the RRP of the panel. The stand and speakers retail for $499 a piece. Considering most panels come with these accessories as standard, we feel this figure is rather excessive.
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