Fujitsu P42HHA4OUS review

Can this Fujitsu's performance match its classy looks?

Our Verdict

Great black levels and brightness make this the Man Utd of the plasma world

For

  • Superb hi-def picture

Against

  • No analogue tuner

Fujitsu was just one of the big names in 2006 that hadn't counted on all sets needing either HDCP-compliant DVI or HDMI inputs to be designated as ready for HDTV. Which explains why this, its sixth generation 42in Plasmavision screen, is actually a US model that's on sale in the UK for the time being - although now with a £500 price cut.

It's equipped with HDMI and DVI (although the latter isn't HDCP-compliant), and accepts both the 50Hz and 60Hz variants of 720p and 1080i (the two different forms of HD).

Early adopters of HDTV may rejoice, but for others there is a shock, with no Scarts in sight. Also lost from the planned European spec is an analogue tuner, which means that technically the P42HHA40 is a mere monitor. As such, it is clearly aimed at the high-end of the market - as also indicated by the fact that it's available from specialist AV retailers and custom installers only. Luckily for the rest of us, however, Fujitsu is bundling an RGB Scart-to-VGA connector with the screen.

While the P42HHA40's silver-clad fascia lends it a simple touch of class, inside it's much more complex, boasting the second generation of Fujitsu's Advanced Video Movement II (AVM II) picture engine.

Its brains are also designed to get rid of blocking noise and create better defined edges, while a natural light sensor adjusts the brightness of the screen to synchronise with its surroundings.

Reached via task-orientated on-screen menus, there are easily adjustable settings for sharpness, tint, signal and contrast, and various ratio/zoom functions. The remote makes switching between inputs its main feature, with almost everything else done via the menus: its sparse approach is great.

Sharp looks

With football, the Fujitsu's ALiS panel clearly does its job with brightness - our test footage looks extraordinarily bright, and edges are sharply defined. The amount of detail in close-ups is also impressive, and colours are both saturated and natural enough for those tricky skin tones. Our only complaint is that we still noticed some minor problems with dot crawl in backgrounds, and colour banding over large blocks of colour.

Given the P42HHA40's skills thus far, it comes as little surprise that high-definition footage via component video inputs from a D-VHS machine looks superb. Aside from a tiny amount of image noise, it's all good, and the 1,024 x 1,024 screen is filled with immense detail. We can therefore declare this screen good and ready for high-def Premiership games.

What brings us back down to Earth is TV via that RGB Scart-to-VGA adaptor, although a somewhat softer rendition of Soccer AM is still vibrantly coloured and bright.

Audio from the Fujitsu's speakers - which are available for an extra £249 - is solid, outputting decent stereo sound. We would however go for a separate 5.1 sub/sat setup instead, because not only will Sky's HDTV service provide you with the best TV pictures you've ever seen, but a lot of the output will also come with surround sound. Such is the magic of that HDMI input - well worth the money if you ask us.

The P42HHA40's picture processing makes DVDs and HD footage look sparkling, detailed and bright, so it's well primed for the high-definition future. Tiny picture foibles aside, this set looks set to mount a challenge, despite its lack of Scarts.