With Pioneer's stunning PDP- 436XDE 43in plasma TV going for £2,800, if you're going to charge £500 more for your new 42in plasma,like Fujitsu is with its P42HTS40GS,you'd better come packing some serious AV heat.
Shame,then,that aesthetically the P42HTS40GS looks a touch tepid. Its sheer slenderness,some gentle curving of edges and a tasteful stand stop it short of actual blandness,but it's certainly no supermodel.
Connectivity comes via an external AV switching box,and highlights include an HDMI input,a (non-HDCP-enabled) DVI jack,two component video inputs,and a trio of Scarts which all take RGB.
Oddly,this TV's native resolution is 1024 x 1024.But that doesn't mean the TV is actually square.It's definitely widescreen.The quoted resolution is just a curious by-product of the set's Alternate Lighting of Surfaces (AliS) technology,where the plasma panel shares an electrode strip between two horizontal rows of cells,rather than using a separate strip for each row like normal plasmas do,in order to run off less energy.
Also on the features list is AVM II, the latest generation of Fujitsu's proprietary scaling technology.This claims reduced MPEG and mosquito noise,better contouring,and better colour tuning and vibrancy.There's also an anti-screenburn measure,and signal and drive contrast adjustments.
So far nothing about the P42HTS40GS has upped the ante on the Pioneer benchmark mentioned earlier.Sadly this trend continues when it comes to performance.
The first disappointment comes with the colour tone.Greens and reds look over-ripe,and skin looks plain weird, thanks to a green undertone and some rough colour gradations.
Standard-definition pictures look almost out of focus at times,and even pure HD feeds via component inputs look rather untextured.Things become acceptably sharp when watching HD-upscaled DVDs via the HDMI input.
The screen's black level response is nothing to write home about either. Fujitsu only claims a relatively paltry (by today's standards) 1,000:1 contrast ratio,and our lab contrast reading of 240:1 is similarly underwhelming,helping to explain why dark picture areas grey over, flatten out and lack shadow detail. There's not even much brightness around to inject any dynamism,as the average luminance reading of 25fl shows.
The TV does at least suppress noise quite well. In particular it suffers not at all badly with those old-school plasma problems of colour solarisation, dot crawl in dark areas, or fizzing noise over horizontal motion.But that really is about as positive as we can get.
Sonically the only thing we can say about this Fujitsu is that its £249 optional extra speakers are depressingly expensive (given how much the TV costs in the first place). Sadly, we weren't given speakers,so we can't say how they sound.
Ultimately we really can't think of any compelling reason to buy a P42HTS40GS. Its dated performance wouldn't impress even if its price was well under £2k,so asking well in excess of £3k for it looks just plain cheeky,to be honest. John Archer