Anyone wanting to watch Sky HD, digital DVD feeds and/or basic TV sources should look elsewhere
Hit and miss pictures
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When is Hyundai not Hyundai? When it's Hyundai ImageQuest, of course! This spin-off outfit disaffiliated itself from the main group in 2000, and has since been beavering away on its own. And one of the first big-screen results of this beavering is the 42in HQP421.
Probably the most positive thing that can be said about it is that it's quite economical with space. Beyond that, the dull grey frame is about as exciting as a snail marathon.
At first glance, connectivity looks good. Alongside a DVI jack for receiving digital PC or video pictures can be found two sets of component video inputs (both HD enabled), a tuner input, a pair of Scarts and a subwoofer line output.
However, crushingly, the DVI jack lacks HDCP digital rights management compatibility, denying users access to with Sky's future HD broadcasts, and digital feeds from suitably talented DVD players.
It does boast some extravagant specifications - not least a quoted contrast ratio of 3,200:1 coupled with a brightness of 1,000cd/m2. (HCC's tech labs actually rate contrast at 225:1, the second best here). But resolution is a standard-def 852 x 480 pixels - compounding the lack of 'true' HD readiness from the non-HDCP DVI jack.
Helpful user-adjustable features include a twin-tuner picture-in-picture facility, a Film mode, noise reduction, 'SRS Wow' audio processing, and a couple of anti-screenburn measures.
The HQP421SR delivers a bizarrely mixed performance. High-definition pictures from a non-HDCP source look natural in colour tone, black level, and sharpness given the relatively low resolution of the panel. Admittedly there's not much genuine texture or depth in dark areas, motion has a tendency to judder slightly, and skin tones occasionally look a touch green. But overall, HD material impresses.
Progressive scan feeds from DVD look less convincing, softer overall and dropping off in colour fidelity. But still fine for a sub-£2k model.
RGB Scart delivered Sky or standard DVD feeds offer vibrant colours and black level response. But old-school plasma nasties like noise over horizontal motion, greenish dot crawl, a 'glowing' look to certain mid-range tones, and traces of colour banding all appear.
With analogue tuner fodder the picture quality plummets, looking horribly soft and almost devoid of anything resembling a believable colour. A final disappointment is that standard or even progressive scan pictures fed via the DVI jack are extremely noisy.
I'd have liked to tell you about the HQP421SR's sound but Hyundai couldn't provide any speakers in time. However, given the hit and miss nature of its pictures, sound quality has arguably become somewhat academic...
If you're one of the few people out there after an affordable screen for just analogue high-definition or progressive scan, then this might be for you. But anyone wanting a screen for Sky HD, digital DVD feeds and/or basic TV sources should look elsewhere.
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