|NEC PX-50XR4A PlasmaSync 50-inch Plasma Display|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs Plasma HDTVs|
|Written by Michael Levy|
|Wednesday, 01 December 2004|
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I was amazed that the unit did not have an “accurate” setting that had been set at the factory to reference. Some manufacturers, such as Runco and Faroudja, ISF calibrate their display devices at the factory. It astounds me that NEC doesn’t do this, since it could be done so easily – in fact, a little too easily. The color controls available through the remote to the consumer on this unit should be put in a service-only submenu with an entry code. The controls are the level and gain for all three colors. In order to set them properly, you must be trained to use the proper test patterns and a color meter. If altered by an untrained consumer, the resultant image will most probably be discolored.
I believe NEC could have chosen a better processing chip set. The knurled glass look and the crawling small details that I described are digital artifacts caused by processing. The difference is evident when you look at HD sources. They do not exhibit that artifact. High definition images are clean and smooth in motion.
The remote is typical for a Japanese manufacturer. If you are remote control-savvy and know how to use a menu-oriented system, you will have no problem with it. To put it more plainly, many people will want to keep their hands off of the remote. I could easily get into a rant here. When will they get it? While I find these remotes simple to operate, they are a brick wall to many people. With all of the human interface technologies available, why can’t average people operate their ever more complicated electronics? The answer is language. We are speaking different languages. Crestron and AMX get it, and they have made a business out of it. They provide well-designed remote systems, but since they need many hours of programming by a trained programmer, they are out of the price range of most consumers.
The major manufacturers should adapt a remote control standard. The system complexity and flexibility could be addressed in a self-recognizing system like plug and play for computers. Yes, I know I am dreaming here. Even if they create a standard, there will be a competing standard, and we will have another Beta/VHS, Apple/IBM, SACD/DVD-Audio-type war. As usual, the result will be a discouraged consumer.
In my recent article on the pros and cons of plasma displays I spoke about plasma display technology and how it fulfilled my dreams as a prescient audio/video product designer. Many hurdles had to be leaped over to create the reality from the dream. It encompassed not only the display’s ability to reproduce the wide color gambit of high definition with proper gray scale and detail in motion, but also the ability to sync to and properly size and center the many standards presently available in both digital and analog sources. All this must be done properly in what is a rather small package. The processors that are used for these purposes in the professional world are large and expensive. The new NEC PlasmaSync 50XR4 automatically senses and converts a wide array of standards to its high definition (1365 by 768) display with impressive quality that can rival these professional processors in a slim and elegant package.
You can hang the PlasmaSync on a wall in your living room, bedroom or den and it will impress with its elegant design while melding into the room with its minimal depth. Be sure to place it at the proper height for viewing. Paintings are usually viewed standing, but you would be making a mistake if you placed a plasma display at that height, since home entertainment is usually viewed from a sitting position. Otherwise, you may well end up with a stiff neck.
Phosphor life was an issue with early plasma units, but has been improved greatly. You can expect a bright and clear image from this unit for at least 60,000 hours. That works out to almost seven years of it being on constantly, or almost 21 years at eight hours a day. It comes with a one-year limited warranty on phosphors, and a three-year limited warranty on parts and labor.
With a list price of $8,995, the unit is on the high side of the middle price range. Considering the wide color gambit and gray scale, the level of detail, the flexibility of use and the overall quality of the display, it is well worth it. The image quality is impressively better than most 50 inch plasmas.