Fujitsu P50XHA40 review

Fujitsu looks to crack the home cinema market

Our Verdict

Fujitsu has finally got its big-screen home cinema chemistry right

For

  • High feature count

    Amazing colours

    Good sound

Against

  • Not all that stylish

Fujitsu has been a proponent of plasma since the very beginning. The brand has the honour of producing the first plasma screen to grace our test bench, and has since drawn on its experience with a steady stream of high-performance screens.

But it has yet to secure itself a significant slice of the growing home cinema market - and it wants to change this, fast.

Enter its new '40' series of monitors - comprising two models, the 50in P50XHA40, and its sibling, the 42in P42HHA40. Both are branded as Fujitsu's most 'home-friendly' yet. And to emphasise this, it comes with a more aggressive price, typically, under £5k.

Aesthetically, the P50XHA40 has a more domesticated look. Fujitsu has designed a sleeker bezel with crisper angles and metallic edging - but that said, the set remains little more than a plain silver rectangle with a screen in the middle.

Fujitsu's domestic ambitions initially seem to flounder when it comes to connections, as there are no Scarts. However, all is not lost, as you can always buy an RGB Scart-to-VGA adaptor to go with the screen.

On the plus side, there's both an HDMI and DVI inputs and two sets of progressive and high-definition- capable component video inputs. It's worth noting that the DVI jack isn't HDCP compliant - but since the HDMI connection is, the screen can be considered ready, willing and able to take Sky's high-definition broadcasts when they start, as well as digital feeds from a DVD deck with a digital video output.

The panel's native resolution of 1,366 x 768 confirms that the P50XHA40 is fully and officially HD-ready.

All-new features

The screen's feature count is impressive. The most interesting development is the number of refinements to Fujitsu's Advanced Video Movement processing. The new AVM II digital video processor technology includes four new features designed to improve images across a wider range of video and multimedia inputs.

There are MPEG Noise Reduction Circuits designed to minimise block noise, mosquito noise and 'ghost edges'; de-interlacing circuits to eliminate jagged edges, and Image Adaptive Processing, which separates and then processes on-screen text/graphics and the video image simultaneously, to ensure that both are displayed with optimal clarity.

Also new is a Natural Light Sensor, which automatically senses your room's ambient light and digitally adjusts the screen brightness and contrast to suit. And finally there's Natural Colour Tuning, which adjusts individual hues to ensure vivid saturation and natural tones.

There's also separate adjustment of the plasma panel's contrast and the contrast of any incoming source image; memory for storing your own presets; a whitescreen system for combating screen burn; and a selection of widescreen modes.

A few of the P50XTA40's specs warrant a mention, too. I've already covered the HD-friendly native resolution, but I should also mention that the screen claims to be capable of showing more than a billion colours, and that it claims a video-friendly brightness level of 600cd/m2, and a hugely impressive-sounding 3,000:1 contrast ratio.

Impressive colours

Inspired by all the ambitious technology lurking under the hood, I decided to shoot high and kicked off my appraisal with digital and analogue high-definition feeds. And there's no doubt that it's here that the big Fujitsu really impresses.

The colour fidelity of its images is particularly dramatic. Hues are wonderfully rich and noiseless. Even the tricky low-lit flesh tones predominant throughout my much-played high-definition D Theatre tape of Alien are rendered with absolute authenticity and authority. The picture thus enjoys a level of solidity and immersive power that's up there with the very best.

Fujitsu's new noise control technology also appears to work wonders too, suppressing HD's tendency to generate graininess on large screens. Then there's the screen's pronounced contrast range. The levels of black this screen is able to produce are impressive (measured at 455:1 by our Tech Labs), and fine detail levels are also outstanding.

Occasionally, a particularly tricky image like the misty atmosphere of the alien planet in Alien can cause traces of colour banding. But that quirk aside, the high-definition picture is largely flawless.

Maintaining standards

Stepping down the source tree to prog scan and normal interlaced DVD playback, the P50XHA40 still impresses. The vividness of its colours remains intact, and there's no drop in contrast or tonal consistency. Noise is also well suppressed.

Sky feeds via the RGB Scart/VGA adaptor, meanwhile, also look much better than I would have suspected. Colours are almost magically rich and dynamic, while the contrast range remains immense.

The optional £250 speakers Fujitsu produces for the P50XHA40 aren't quite so accomplished - but they're still very good. The soundstage produced is wide and airy, and more than good enough to keep any sonic hunger pangs at bay between movie sessions on a dedicated home cinema rig.

This is the best Fujitsu-branded plasma monitor yet. It's more than good enough to be considered among the best in class and is a superb choice for those looking for a high-performance HD screen, although there's still room for improvement - Scarts and an in-built (preferably digital) tuner, for instance. With the P50XHA40, Fujitsu has finally got its big-screen home cinema chemistry right. Audition one immediately.