A brave and impressive effort from Fujitsu - but it sure ain't cheap!
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To the uninitiated, a 42in plasma screen is an impressive size, well capable of dominating a typically-sized lounge. We have been lucky enough to be in the presence of some even bigger screens, but none match up to the Fujitsu P63XHA30E, a real widescreen goliath at a whopping 63in.
It's not the biggest plasma in the world, but this tuner-free monster is the largest you're likely to be able to get your hands on in the UK for some time.
Big is beautiful
The biblically proportioned panel doesn't look as overpowering as it might, however, thanks to its light design, with a reasonably attractive stand available for an extra £230. Once you've heaved the thing into position and had a nose around, you might be surprised to discover an RGB-wired Scart socket.
Fujitsu has had a slightly snooty attitude to all things domestic in the past, so it's nice to see such a front-room-friendly connection lining up alongside the more high-end stuff. The concessions to the mass market stop there, however, with the lack of an RF jack betraying the absence of a television tuner.
Perhaps more surprising is the omission of DVI or HDMI inputs - especially at the price. You can still feed high-def material through its progressive scan-capable component video inputs (although this won't be compatible with Sky's 2006 HD service) but again, there's only one set of these, which seems a trifle miserly to say the least.
A standard VGA PC jack enables you to hook the P63XHA30E up to a computer, which has mind-boggling implications for gaming (or PowerPoint presentations, if you are that way inclined), but the socket haul is limited. The screen does however pack Fujitsu's own Advanced Video Movement (AVM) processor, which stamps out motion artefacts and flicker, improves vertical resolution and makes movement look more realistic.
Feed the Fujitsu RGB pictures from a Sky box and you'll be wowed by an almost startlingly clear and immediate picture. Edges look smoother than on just about any set we've seen of a similar size, and colours are wonderfully well saturated. Much of this - particularly the excellent colour reproduction - is due in part to the screen's awesome brightness, this has the added effect of enabling a contrast range that would eclipse that of many smaller sets.
As the titular hero of our Donnie Darko DVD sits on his car and looks out at the time hole forming over his house, blacks are solid and rich, the P63XHA30E rendering just about every shade to ensure that masses of detail is retained. This is even true during gloomier scenes, such as Donnie's first trip to the golf course to speak to Frank. The result is an utterly absorbing picture possessed of a brilliantly convincing depth of field.
On the down side, the inherent plasma problems of rogue dots and colour banding do appear - but even these do little to spoil the P63XHA30E's masterful performance.
Audio is an afterthought, but Fujitsu's optional speakers (£477 for the pair) knock out a muscular soundstage. Still, a screen this majestic really needs hooking up to separate sound kit to do it justice. Our only real beef with the P63XHA30E - aside from the lack of all-digital inputs - is born of the very thing that makes it so compelling: it's just too damn big! And seriously, who's got a spare £13,000 lying around their reinforced steel-walled palace?
What we do applaud, though, is Fujitsu's pioneering instinct to approach the frontiers of plasma design and size. If 60in and above is your goal, they don't come much better, and definitely not bigger, than this.
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