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Sony KE-P42M1 review

Can Wega Engine drive Sony to another plasma victory?

Our Verdict

It does the job okay, but it isn't future-proof - and that's what matters these days


  • Impressive picture


  • Not HD ready

Part of Sony's new range of Wega Engine TVs, the KE-P42M1 happily boasts the good looks that the big-name brand is famous for. But while its dramatically curved edges are undeniably attractive, it is rather on the large side. In fact, that's an understatement; it's about as chunky as Nick Frost, one of the stars of our Shaun of the Dead test DVD.

It may be big, but a look at the KE-P42M1's connections makes us wonder just how clever it is - there's no digital video input. This means that the screen won't be able to display Sky's upcoming HD broadcasts, or take signals from a high-end DVD player with best-quality DVI outputs.

There are component jacks for analogue high-def and progressive scan sources, but the lack of DVI or HDMI on a screen of this size is a real shame. What's more, if you were thinking of using the KE-P42M1 is a luxury PC monitor (admittedly perhaps a little unlikely!), forget it - it doesn't have a PC input.

We cheered up a little when we looked at the features list, as we were reminded that Sony's Wega Engine picture processing is here. Put as simply as possible, Wega Engine works to deliver enhanced fine detail levels, all-digital scaling for reduced picture noise, richer, more natural colours and smoother contours and colour gradations.

The only downer is that all this processing goodness will be put to work here with a screen that has a native resolution of just 852 x 480 pixels - doh!

Other handy features worth a mention include noise reduction, a couple of antiscreenburn measures, a 'Dynamic picture' contrast booster, Dolby Virtual audio processing and a low power mode.

Natural class

With Wega on board, we weren't surprised to find the KE-P42M1's pictures very enjoyable. What was surprising was how good images from the TV tuner or a Sky digibox looked. Plasmas and LCDs are traditionally poor with low-rent sources, but here such images were impressively natural, with believable colour tones. Picture noise was also lower than we expected with TV (although there was still occasional colour banding, green dot crawl and blurring over fast-moving objects).

Another plus point is the KE-P42M1's black level response. While our Shaun of the Dead test movie often takes place in day-time Tufnell park, its dark scenes - like those in the pub when the power has gone off - were bereft of the greyness that can afflict dark areas on lesser screens.

While pictures from any source are very respectable, however, the Sony's low native resolution does mean that progressive scan and, in particular, high-definition sources look slightly softer than they should.

Sonically, it's a similar story. The Sony delivered audio that was free of distortions and kept dialogue clear, but a slight lack of frequency response and soundstage width just kept it from going that extra mile.

If you're after a replacement for your old CRT, you could do a lot worse than the KE-P42M1. But we imagine that anyone investing this sort of money in a screen of this size will want something that is future-proof - and this isn't it.