Fujitsu P50XHA10US Plasmavision 50-inch Plasma 
Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs Plasma HDTVs
Written by Ben Shyman   
Monday, 01 December 2003

The Fujistu P50XHA10US Plasmavision is the largest plasma monitor Fujitsu currently manufactures and the flagship product in their current line. The 16 x 9 widescreen, 50-inch diagonal, 99 pound plasma monitor measures only four inches deep and retails for $10,999. The P50XHA10US has a fixed pixel native resolution of 1366 x 768 and can display images in 1080i and 720p HDTV, as well as 480i and 480p STDV.

While owning a 50-inch plasma monitor will no doubt make you feel like the coolest cat in the neighborhood, the P50XHA10US will take you one step further with its stunning good looks. In my view, the wide metallic silver front bezel of the P50XHA10US makes it the most attractive plasma currently on the market. It is certain to please even the most discriminating spouse as far as fitting into any décor.

The P50XHA10US has a variety of video inputs and accepts almost any home theater or computer video source I can think of. I was initially disappointed, however, to see Fujitsu chose RCA-type connectors for the component video inputs over the BNC variety, which are usually reserved only for the highest-end video equipment. After all, you just spent almost 11 thousand dollars, doesn’t the P50XHA10US qualify in this regard? But after some thought, as I reluctantly placed BNC to RCA adaptors on my video cables, I decided this omission was not a big deal, since it probably plays more to one’s ego than anything else. One would be challenged to discern any difference in picture quality between BNC and RCA connectors. The most obvious benefit is that BNC connectors lock firmly in place and if you are using stiff or thick video cables like the Transparent cables that I use, this is a big plus.

Fujistu has equipped the P50XHA10US with a DVI input with HDCP High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection. This input enables true digital connection to sources with a DVI output (most likely a HDTV receiver but also some very released DVD players) thus eliminating the need for digital-to-analog conversion at the source and making for a cleaner and more artifact-free picture. HDCP ensures compatibility with digital programming that is flagged to prevent illegal copying and distribution. HDCP has quickly become an important standard in digital video and having it on the P50XHA10US is critical in my view. Hollywood movie studios remain reluctant to embrace digital high-definition distribution of their beloved movies until standards like DVI with HDCP are in place to effectively prevent the “Napsterization” of their content. With its DVI-HDCP input, the Fujitsu P50XHA10US guarantees years of enjoyment and compatibility with the future direction of the digital video industry.


Like all other monitors in the Plasmavision line, the P50XHA10US employs Fujitsu’s Advanced Video Movement (AVM) technology, which the company claims improves picture quality by minimizing motion artifacts and flicker, as well as improving vertical resolution. The AVM processor also provides a built-in line doubler for NTSC sources to eliminate annoying scan lines. I evaluated the Plasmavision monitor utilizing Fujitsu’s internal scaler with AVM, as well as my Faroudja NRS-DVI, and found that Fujitsu’s AVM technology did a more than admirable job at improving picture quality, especially with conventional NTSC television sources, which usually look bad on digital monitors such as a plasma.

No one is more keenly aware of the perils of potential phosphor burn-in associated with plasma monitors than plasma manufacturers. The usual culprit leading to phosphor burn-in is excessively high contrast settings, combined with still images such the clock and scoreboard during sports programming or the “black bars” on widescreen DVDs not formatted in 1.78:1. Fujitsu has smartly included two important features on its Plasmavision monitor to minimize the chances of phosphor burn-in. The first is the Screen Orbiter, which discreetly shifts the entire image between five and fifteen pixels every hour, thus keeping still images from sitting in one place for too long. The second feature, the White Screen, turns the entire screen white and can be set on a timer. After watching material with black bars, I recommend using the White Screen to evenly “heat” the pixels in the display to reduce odds of permanent damage to the display. While I am pleased Fujitsu included these features on the P50XHA10US, this still does not entirely rule out burn-in as a possibility. However, using them routinely can greatly extend the life and enjoyment factor of your investment.

Setup
While the Fujitsu Plasmavision can be wall-mounted or stand-mounted, I chose the new Universal Plasmamount from Salamander Designs, which complements their Synergy line of products. The product is excellent and I highly recommend it for those who do not want to drill holes in their walls to mount their plasma monitors and are looking for convenient and uncluttered storage of audio-video gear. Whatever you choose, it is imperative that you let your authorized Fujitsu dealer install and set up the monitor. Like all plasmas, the Plasmavision is heavy, awkward to move, extremely fragile and requires a bit of know-how to correctly set up. Furthermore, Fujitsu will only honor their warrantee if you purchase the unit from an authorized retailer. Since there are no authorized Plasmavision retailers on the internet, you should avoid the temptation of purchasing a Plasmavision from an on-line retailer. Check out plasmavision.com for further details.

Wiring the Plasmavision was easy. I connected my Scientific Atlanta Explorer 3100HD cable box and Lexicon RT-10 Universal Disc Player to a Faroudja NRS-DVI video processor, using S-video and component video cables from Transparent. I connected the Faroudja NRS-DVI to the Plasmavision, using a prototype of Transparent’s soon-to-be-released Premium DVI (PDVI) cable. The prototype I used eventually became the final product Transparent will soon make commercially available, along with its less expensive sibling, the High Performance (HPDVI) DVI Cable. Using DVI over conventional analog cables makes a huge difference, and if your DVD player or cable box has a DVI output, you should definitely use it. I found Transparent’s PDVI cable to be a perfect match for the professional quality of the Fujitsu P50XHA10US. I ran Transparent Premium Component Video Cable from the cable box to the Plasmavision for HDTV sources.

Before beginning my evaluation, I called on the services of Imaging Sciences Foundation calibration guru Kevin Miller to fine-tune the performance of the P50XHA10US Plasmavision monitor. Kevin calibrated my system to 6500 Kelvin gray scale and adjusted picture parameters (contrast, color and brightness) on both the DVI input from the Faroudja NRS and the component video input from high-def sources. One distinguishing feature on the Fujistu Plasmavision is that each input can be calibrated independently. This is important, as conventional television, DVD and high definition signals vary dramatically and it is nice to be able to calibrate each input independently for optimal performance.

In my opinion, correctly calibrating your video system is extremely important and serves two purposes. First and most obvious, calibration ensures that gray scale and picture parameters are correctly set. Second, and perhaps even more important in the long run, proper calibration greatly reduces the possibility that you may damage your monitor from phosphor burn-in by having the contrast or brightness set incorrectly. Having your monitor set up properly in my view is a low-cost preventive measure against potentially damaging a plasma display. The bottom line is, as you have probably just spent several mortgage payments on the coolest television in the neighborhood, I would say it is worth spending $300 bucks to ensure optimal performance.

Many consumers shopping for a plasma are probably wondering what size monitor is best for their viewing area. While every person’s tastes are different, I would mention here that I evaluated the P50XHA10US from eight feet and found this distance to be quite comfortable. I would caution, however, that if you plan on being any closer than that, Fujistu makes a 42-inch version of this display that might be more suitable for you.

The Movies
I began my evaluation with Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 Oscar-winning thriller “Fargo.” Fargo is the fact-based story of a Minnesota car salesman (William H. Macy) who hires two lowlifes (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife in an attempt to collect a ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. The lead role of the local police chief is brilliantly played by Frances McDormand, who won the Oscar for Best Actress.

Much of “Fargo’s” gripping tale is filmed in the snow-blanketed, brightly lit outdoors of Minnesota’s frozen wintry plains. It is during these scenes where the P50XHA10US presents “Fargo” at its best, with excellent clarity and sensational detail. During Chapter 16, “Lou’s Police Work,” the contrast between McDormand and the snow-covered background is excellent. It is easy to perceive the finest details of the American flag patch and gold badge on her shoulder and hat. Although at times I found the Special Edition DVD to contain minor pixelization during some scenes, the Plasmavision still reproduced “Fargo” with realistic flesh tones, well-contrasted shadows and balanced colors. After being impressed by the Fujitsu’s ability to render “Fargo’s” brighter scenes with superb realism, I turned to Chapter 13, “Killing for Compliance,” to test the monitor’s capacity to handle shadows and deep blacks. Despite great improvement over the years, plasma monitors still have difficulty reproducing dark scenes as accurately as traditional CRT monitors do. Chapter 13 was shot at night and depicts the unexpected confrontation Buscemi and Stomare have with a Minnesota Highway Patrol officer. The Plasmavision reproduced this scene with surprising ease and not once was I distracted by video noise normally seen in gray-black areas, as on many plasmas. This is not to imply that the P50XHA10US was perfect in handling grays and deep blacks, but relative to other plasmas, its performance here was among the best that I have seen. After watching “Fargo,” my interest in the P50XHA10US was piqued and I was eager to watch other DVDs and HDTV.

Like millions of others, I have patiently awaited the release of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ trilogy, “The Adventures of Indiana Jones: The Complete DVD Movie Collection” (Paramount Home Entertainment). Well, the collection is finally here. The four-disc set includes all three movies – “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” – and a bonus disc with segments on the making of each film and theatrical trailers, plus information on sound, music, special effects and stunts. The film’s picture has been digitally restored in a widescreen version enhanced for 16:9 televisions and the sound has been digitally remastered in THX 5.1 surround. While not the focus of this review, I would be remiss not to mention the exceptional sound quality of all three films, including scores by composer John Williams. There is no doubt that Santa Claus will be very busy delivering this collection to millions this Christmas.

While I watched all three movies on the Plasmavision (could you resist?), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” as the most recent movie in the trilogy, not surprisingly has the best picture and sound. In the film, Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his father (Sean Connery) find themselves on a perilous quest and race against the Nazis to find Christ’s famous chalice, the Holy Grail.

Watching “The Last Crusade” on the P50XHA10US, it is easy to see the finest details of the picture from its vast landscapes to colorful costumes. This was nowhere better depicted than in Chapter 8, “To Venice,” when Indy and friend Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) arrive in Italy’s great city. The city’s architecture and waterways look remarkably lifelike, almost three-dimensional, not flat as it might look on a conventional television. When Indy arrives at the library, which contains the tomb of Crusader Sir Richard, the colorful stain glass window comes alive with rich and vibrant color. Finally, when Indy enters the tomb of the ancient knight, the P50XHA10US does as good a job handling deep blacks as it does on “Fargo,” with only limited video noise.

I watched scenes from the film both at night and during the day in my apartment, which is well-lit even with the shades drawn, and came to realize one of the Plasmavision’s strengths was that it performed admirably even in a well-lit room. The picture maintained its brightness without becoming washed out. The Plasmavision imparted a sense of realism to movie watching that made viewing “The Last Crusade” immensely enjoyable.

HDTV
As many residents of Manhattan already know, Time Warner Cable New York City leads the nation in bringing volumes of HDTV to its customers. Live sports are without question the most dramatic presentation for HDTV and I made sure to catch CBS’s weekly Saturday presentation of SEC College Football. I was lucky that this Saturday’s game was a classic, the Florida Gators playing the Georgia Bulldogs at the Gatorbowl. The picture was simply dazzling. Florida’s orange and blue and Georgia’s red and white uniforms overloaded my visual capacity. Colors were incredibly saturated. The green field and white markings had exceptional contrast and were razor sharp. Whether viewing names on player uniforms or the facial expressions of coaches and players, all the game’s most minor details were so easily visible that it made viewing the game at home as enjoyable as I could possible imagine. Graphics such as the clock in the upper corner of the screen were so sharp and well-contrasted it was almost spooky. The P50XHA10US even maintained a reasonably sharp picture without much pixelization or other motion artifacts during quick camera pans. While not perfect, the P50XHA10US was very good here and some flaws in the picture were no doubt because Time Warner Cable New York City broadcasts all its HDTV in 1080i rather than 720p, a format that is arguably superior.

I spent much time watching various HTDV programming, including Jay Leno on NBC and “The Sopranos” and “The Panic Room” on HBO. The P50XHA10US Plasmavision monitor made it easy to see the texture on the fabric of Leno’s suit and tie. The added resolution allows one to connect with the emotional anger of an enraged Tony Soprano with an even more impressive effect. It is during moments like this you will know you have arrived in home theater heaven. When I recently had friends over for Movie Night at my home, I auditioned the P50XHA10US by tuning in to WNET-HD, which offers around-the-clock high-definition broadcasting. It was comical to see the looks of disbelief on their faces during programming which showed aerial shots of Italy’s gorgeous Mediterranean coast.

The P50XHA10US separates itself from the pack when viewing HDTV and presents a picture that is simply state of the art. You will find yourself, as do the millions who already receive HDTV programming, wishing that more high-def broadcasting were available. Thankfully, much more programming is just around the corner. Simply put, the P50XHA10US with HDTV will put you in the front row at Madison Square Garden or in the director’s chair on the set of your favorite movie.

The Downside
The downsides of the Fujitsu P50XHA10US Plasmavision are few. I have been living with the monitor for almost five months and, to be completely honest, I am thrilled. The biggest drawbacks are probably more inherent in plasma monitors in general. While all plasma monitors have issues associated with black levels, the Fujitsu is exceptional in this area as compared to other plasma displays. Top quality plasma monitors like the Fujitsu Plasmavision are expensive and you probably need to decide if spending $10,999 is right for your budget when planning a home theater system. Additionally, Plasma monitors are extremely fragile and I know I would be reluctant to place this expensive screen in a home with small children. Finally, while phosphor burn-in is a possibility, if you have the monitor correctly calibrated, use the Screen Orbiter and White Screen features and are not obsessed with your Playstation or X-Box, you are practically guaranteed many years of trouble-free enjoyment from this topnotch and truly professional display. As a final downside, I might mention that this plasma is so good you may find yourself in danger of never leaving the house. I have not been to the movies since Fujitus’ Plasmavision arrived at my home. Coincidence? Probably not.

Conclusion
At the end of the day, buying a plasma monitor comes down to lifestyle more than anything else. Living in a small one-bedroom apartment in New York City, I know this firsthand. After you decide that a plasma monitor is right for you, I highly recommend that you give the Fujistu P50XHA10US Plasmavision monitor a serious audition. It is almost impossible for me to imagine a consumer being anything less than thrilled with this product, especially if you watch as many movies on DVD and HDTV as I do. The performance and picture quality of the P50XHA10US stands among the very best that is available among plasma displays. Of course if you decide not to buy the Fujitsu P50XHA10US, you might be disappointed having to watch this season’s Super Bowl on your old clunker.
Manufacturer Fujitsu
Model P50XHA10US Plasmavision 50-inch Plasma
Reviewer Ben Shyman
Diagonal Screen Size 43 to 56-inches





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