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Vizio P42 HDe 42-inch Plasma Display Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 January 2006
Article Index
Vizio P42 HDe 42-inch Plasma Display
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I wanted to conclude my evaluation by using the P42 as a computer monitor. However, I lacked the necessary cable to connect my Apple PowerBook G4 to the P42, so I cued up my Nintendo Game Cube instead. I’m not much of a gamer in the traditional sense, but it’s never stopped me from enjoying the occasional game of Mario Golf. The P42’s natural image brightness and color rendering made the game come to life. I found the image to be a little sharper when compared to a traditional CRT set, which at times became a bit distracting by calling extra attention to some of the larger polygon elements. The characters’ movements, as well as those of the camera, were very smooth and showed little to no sign of “jaggies” that often come standard with most video games. Sadly, the P42 isn’t immune to burn-in or “image sticking,” as Vizio chooses to call it. After only nine holes of golf, the game’s information pallet was still visible on the screen even after switching off the game. Happily, this effect went away after only a few minutes of television watching after my rout of that pudgy plumber Luigi. The P42, like many other plasma screens, features several menu settings to help combat burn-in, but it won’t completely solve the issue, which makes me wonder about using the P42 as a dedicated computer monitor for long periods of time. If having a huge computer monitor is your ultimate goal, I recommend focusing your attention towards monitors featuring LCD technology.

The Downside
First off, the P42’s inability to recognize or change aspect ratios automatically with the source material became a bit frustrating. Granted, it’s easy enough to rectify with a simple push of a button, but I still would prefer that the P42 do it for me. Speaking of buttons, some backlighting on the remote would have been nice as well. I understand the lack of backlighting is a cost-cutting device, but I wonder how much can it really cost when you’re manufacturing hundreds of thousands of remotes.

The P42’s image and color delineation could at times become a bit muddy and/or noisy, depending on the overall brightness of the scene. While I experimented with various cables and power conditioners, I found the best way to combat this effect was to observe a proper viewing distance (eight to 12 feet) and to utilize the P42’s DVI input whenever possible. I would have liked to see an additional DVI or HDMI input, since most computers like my Apple G5 now use the connection for their monitors and I’d hate to have to constantly play musical chairs with my cables between different electronics.

While the P42 excelled with the higher-resolution formats like HDTV and upsampled DVD, it just didn’t cut it as a standard-definition television. This isn’t exclusive to the P42; in fact, most plasma screens suffer from poor standard-definition picture.

At just under $2,000, the Vizio P42 HDe is the least expensive 42-inch high-definition-ready plasma on the market today. It’s the perfect size for most living room situations and, with its above average brightness and viewing angle, you’re sure to get a picture the whole family can enjoy. The P42 has a wonderful way with high-definition sources and DVDs, but it trudges along when having to deal with standard-definition broadcasts. Obviously, you can spend more and get more in terms of image quality and size and you owe it to yourself to shop around to decide which screen is right for you. If you’re looking to get into the plasma arena without breaking the bank, the Vizio P42 is a very viable way to go. While I may have been wooed by the P42’s meager asking price, this is one impulse buy that I’m happy to say hasn’t been followed by buyer’s remorse.

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