Thomson's latest DLP rear-projection TV scooped a 'First Class'award in the Digital Display category at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's not hard to see why the 50in 50DSZ645 has got gadget lovers hot under the collar.
First of all, it's extraordinarily thin. We've seen plasma screens that don't stick out much less around the back.The front is drop-dead gorgeous,too,combining good colour schemes and clever sculpting to emphasise the TV's slimness.
Connections thankfully include a DVI jack configured to handle the HDCP anti-piracy protocols required by Sky's upcoming high-definition receiver.Analogue high-def and progressive scan can be enjoyed via component video inputs,meanwhile, and a trio of Scarts are on hand for less demanding sources.
Using the 50DSZ645 is a bit frustrating.The onscreen menus are fine - attractive and fairly sensibly organised.But the remote control features buttons that are both way too small and poorly laid out.
Heading up a fairly extensive features list is Hi-Pix HDTV,an update of Thomson's original Hi-Pix system (for adding detail and richer colours to pictures) designed to work with high as well as standard definition sources.Also registering on our radar is a picture-in-picture system,a film mode for smoothing motion,and the option to reduce/increase the projector lamp's brightness.
Although we didn't realise it right away,the 50DSZ645's picture is outstanding.The reason for our initial concern is its brightness - or rather,lack of it.This low brightness does have its advantages,however.
For instance, it helps keep a lid on all three of DLP's traditional key weaknesses: green dot crawl,colour banding,and fizzing noise over motion.It also eliminates the screen shimmer effect seen on some over-bright rear-projection screens, plus ghosting/haloing/glinting around harshly contrasting edges. It also, thankfully,helps prevent the overt MPEG noise when viewing DVI sources experienced on some rivals.
The restrained brightness also contributes to the set's exceptional black-level response,which ekes out the dark picture parts most other screens simply cannot reach.
The contained brightness can, however,leave sunny afternoon scenes occasionally looking more like early evening than we'd like.Also, while we're moaning,hard edges can look a bit rough and really bright image parts can give off a quite expansive aura if they're set against really dark backdrops.But that's the only bad stuff we've got to say.
The 50DSZ645's sound impresses too, thanks to plenty of well-rounded bass,a mid-range strong enough to stop dialogue sounding crowded, and fully fleshed trebles that avoid harshness.Slightly fuller vocals and more aggression would have been the icing on the cake.
Although its pictures are deliberately not designed to create the same instant,shop-friendly impact as those of some of its rivals, look a little deeper and you'll find in the 50DSZ645 a TV that shuns garish one-upmanship in favour of being as passionate about TV and films as you are.