- Excellent HD performance, Near-perfect PC test results, brilliant HD-DVD playback.
- Slight over-sharpening and pixelation, Some greyscale discolourations, Lack of input options, Speakers too small.
Despite a few minor problems, the Fujitsu Plasmavision P63XHA51AS performed beautifully in our HD and SD tests and even excelled when connected to a PC.
Price$ 24,999.00 (AUD)
As the plasma display market becomes more and more competitive, manufacturers need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. The Fujitsu Plasmavision P63XHA51AS certainly can't be accused of being a wallflower. At 63 inches, this Plasma display panel commands attention and will certainly become the focal point of any room in which it is installed. Thankfully, at least in this case, the size is not the only thing this panel has going for it. It also delivers top notch performance with only very few image quality issues. While it's not perfect, it is far better than we expected from a unit of this size.
The P63XHA51AS has a native resolution of 1366x768 and as such supports video signals at 576i/p, 720p and 1080i. To test High Definition performance (HD) we ran HD gaming tests using the Xbox 360 at 720p. We also ran HD video tests using 720p videos downloaded via the Xbox Live service. An HD-DVD test at 1080i was conducted using the HD-DVD release of Mission Impossible III.
Using the Xbox 360 we ran Tony Hawk's Project 8 with excellent results. The first thing we checked for was pixelation. Many plasma panels of this size have issues with pixelation due to the noticeable dark space between each pixel (dot pitch). We found a slight amount of pixelation on curved edges and diagonal surfaces but it was only noticeable when sitting close to the panel. As the comfortable viewing distance for a panel of this size is not 30cm from the screen, most people probably won't notice this at all. The dot pitch for this unit is actually quite good and as such it manages to avoid any flyscreen effect. The image clarity and the level of detail were both impressive with no problems to speak of. There was a little over-sharpening but this could be removed with calibration, using the on-screen display (OSD) settings, and no undue image noise or artefacts were detected. We did notice some grain and active pixels (where pixels have slightly undesired motion patterns) but again, from a good viewing distance this should not be noticeable. We were also impressed by the colour reproduction of this unit. There was no over-saturation and reds were handled beautifully. The black levels were accurate, the whites were pure and there was no bleeding between the colours.
The pixelation issue was far less noticeable during our HD Video tests. We ran a series of trailers and short videos at HD (720p) with no major problems. The videos did not suffer any pixelation, image noise or stepping. The colour was excellent during the HD Video tests and there was only a little over-sharpening to impinge on an otherwise perfect test result. The over-sharpening was easily corrected using the OSD settings.
Lastly, we ran Mission Impossible III on HD-DVD at 1080i. The film looked stunning with only a small amount of film grain hampering the image quality. Like the other HD tests, the image quality was superb and at 63in the overall impact of the film was intense and mesmerising.
For Standard Definition testing, we used three test DVDs including the Philips CE2006 Demo DVD, Digital Video Essentials and The Matrix. The Philips DVD uses still images to test the capabilities of the panel at an elementary level. There was no over saturation in the colour tests and no stepping in the contrast tests. The colour reproduction was excellent and the black levels were superb. The over-sharpening was still present, but no worse than in the HD tests.
We ran video footage using the lobby scene from The Matrix, which was handled reasonably well with only a handful of aberrations. There was some noticeable noise in background textures and we found contrast stepping on the skin tones and in areas of fine detail, such as dust particles and debris. The over-sharpening issue was present in this test, too, but once again could be removed via the OSD. There was also a little motion jitter making the image slightly stuttering from time to time and there was a minor level of pixelation on curved edges as a result of the upscaling process.
Using Digital Video Essentials we noticed a minor level of noise in low grey, at between 20% amplitude. There was also yellow and magenta discolouration in our greyscale tests. However, this was the only problem we found during these tests. The colour tests, contrast tests, greyscale block test and SMPTE colour bar tests were all handled brilliantly. Overall, the blend along the greyscale was quite good, without any stepping at all. For watching DVDs, this television will do a good job but it's not the best performance that we've seen from an HD panel such as this.
Connecting to a PC
This is usually an area in which many TVs tend to falter, but the P63XHA51AS passed all our tests with flying colours. Surprisingly, it looked excellent when used as a PC monitor. We ran it very close to its native resolution at a desktop setting of 1360x768. In our experience, there are very few TVs that will accept this resolution properly and even fewer that will accept it without having to manually set the signal type in the on-screen display. Icons and text were perfectly clear, with no loss of definition, no over-sharpening and no discolourations. We ran DisplayMate Video Edition and found very few problems. The Geometry and Distortion tests showed no problems in the horizontal and vertical resolution tests, although there was some slight pixel motion in the moire pattern tests - a difficult test for most display devices. The Sharpness and Resolution tests showed streaking on the greyscale test, but no other problems to speak of, and the Colour and Greyscale tests were excellent. Only a magenta discolouration in mid-tone grey precluded it from being perfect. If you have a media centre PC, place this TV at the top of your shopping list. It runs far better when connected to a PC than many other units on the market.
The only major complaint we have with this TV is its lack of connectivity options and the frustrating placement of its ports. The ports at the back of the unit face downward so you can't actually see where you need to insert the plugs from your devices. The space between the ports and the stand of the unit is also rather small so connecting cables gets fiddly and annoying. As for connectivity options, the P63XHA51AS has one HDMI, one component, one S-Video, one composite connection and one D-Sub PC connector. Unlike other units we have seen, the RCA audio jacks for each corresponding video connection are not located right beside the video port. Instead, they are separated into a bank of RCA audio connectors. You need to make sure that your video and audio connections correspond; otherwise you could be left with a great picture, but no sound.. It's overly fiddley and overly complex and we found it to be frustrating to say the least. We also felt that only one of each connection type was a little sparse and would have liked to see two HDMI or two Component ports as a minimum. The design of the unit is fairly minimalist with a thin silver bezel and a glass-top stand.
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 do not span from the top to the bottom of the bezel as they seem to be too small for this unit. We checked to make sure we had been sent the right speakers and Fujitsu confirmed that the speakers for this unit were correct. We couldn't help but feel these speakers looked wrong on the unit and those buying the P36XHA51AS may want to consider using a home theatre system rather than tarnish the overall aesthetic they have spent a large sum purchasing.
Despite a few minor problems, the Fujitsu PlasmaVision P63XHA51AS achieved a great result. It will suit those dying to move into the HD era with excellent gaming and HD-DVD performance, but it won't render your extensive DVD collection useless. Combine that with the brilliant PC performance and you have an excellent unit that will definitely impress. The price tag is enormous, and perhaps a little over-inflated, but high quality is rarely cheap.
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