Fujitsu P55XHA30WS plasma monitor Page 2
That just won't do for me. Selecting the Fine and Still modes brought the overall brightness and contrast levels down to more manageable levels and resulted in some really nice, properly graduated levels of gray. The pictures weren't blazingly bright, but they more closely resembled what you'd see from a correctly adjusted CRT display.
This can be easily verified using a standard PLUGE test pattern and measuring the steps from darkest to lightest gray. In the Conventional and Effective modes, the differences between the stepped gray bars weren't significant, particularly near full white. However, in Fine and Still mode, the steps were more defined and proportionate.
The P55XHA30WS has a versatile pixel-scaling engine that can sync up and resize just about any signal from a PC or set-top box. I found it was quite happy with a wide range of PC sources through the analog RGB input from VGA (640x480) to SXGA (1280x1024). Just set up the 15-pin jack to RGB mode, connect your PC, and activate the Auto sync function from the menu.
In DVI mode, those choices were modified slightly to include both 1280x768 (a widescreen LCD display standard) and 1360x768, which doesn't quite match the panel's physical resolution of 1366x768 pixels. (This is also the case with Fujitsu's 50-inch plasma monitors.)
With video sources, the P55XHA30WS handled 480p, 720p, and 1080i effortlessly from a Samsung SIR-T165 terrestrial DTV tuner, a Motorola DCT-6200 digital cable tuner, and LG's LST-3100 terrestrial DTV tuner. It also worked flawlessly when the signal originated from an outboard D-VHS deck played back through the Samsung tuner's FireWire connection.
The monitor was perfectly content with DVI signals from the Bravo D1 DVD player in 480p, 720p, and 1080i modes. No image position or sizing adjustments were needed. In this regard, I consider the P55XHA30WS to be a "plug and play" monitor. Once your video sources are connected, selected, and identified by the monitor, you can get right to the process of calibration.
The plasma glass array used in the P55XHA30WS is Fujitsu's homegrown product, so I didn't know what to expect from it or its driving electronics. But some detective work with my test equipment revealed a few things of interest. (All of these tests were done with the monitor calibrated in Still picture mode.)
First, the monitor tracked the gray scale quite well once it was calibrated—not as close as a CRT display, but much better than some plasma monitors I've tested. Second, the black levels were higher than on Fujitsu's 50-inch product—about double what I've seen from the best plasma monitors, but on a par with the most current 42-inch plasma from the Fujitsu-Hitachi factory.
Third, the panel was not entirely free from false contouring artifacts—abrupt changes from one value of luminance to another across a gray-scale ramp. I spotted several of these at low luminance levels, the most noticeable right around the lowest level of "black" the Fujitsu could produce.
Finally, the color accuracy was noticeably better than previous Fujitsu plasma monitors. On many panels, red appears to have an orange color cast, green is closer to a pastel shade of lime, and blue is rendered as a light pastel shade. But on this monitor, red, green, and blue more closely resembled what you'd see on a well-calibrated CRT monitor.
To evaluate image quality, I used a sequence of clips from the time-tested Video Essentials DVD to check composite video decoding, deinterlacing, and motion compensation. More critical tests—for bandwidth, image detail, and motion compensation—were conducted with my AccuPel HDG2000 test-pattern generator, along with a selection of off-air HDTV signals, including HDNet from DTV station WFMZ in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and various 720p and 1080i live sports programs recorded to D-VHS.
Let's start at the bottom. If you've got composite video sources connected to the P55XHA30WS, you'll be quite happy with the internal decoding and picture detail. There's obviously a 3D adaptive comb filter hard at work here—picture detail using the Zone Plate from VE was evident out to 400 lines with no flagrant cross-color or cross-luminance artifacts.
The monitor also handled the 3:2 transition from 30 to 24fps film content quickly and efficiently. I saw only an occasional hiccup in the VE "Montage of Images" sequence during these transitions. As far as deinterlacing went, I spotted some slight scan-line artifacts during the flag-waving sequence. This level of performance is about the same as delivered by my older, Faroudja-equipped Panasonic RP56 DVD player.
The P55XHA30WS really began to shine with 480p signal sources. I selected clips from Pearl Harbor (the attack sequence, which is the only thing worth watching in this otherwise overlong movie), the night and cave sequences from Pirates of the Caribbean, and the night scenes from Men In Black.
Low-light scenes are the Achilles' heel of plasma monitors, and given my initial tests with a gray-scale pattern, I expected to find plenty of false contours. However, I was pleasantly surprised when most of the dark-scene clips from Pirates and MIB passed through with minimal contours. When I looked hard enough, I could see some slight "crawling moss" effects and contours in the deepest shadows, but these were very minor. I observed some noise in these clips, which could be encoding artifacts from the DVD itself.
Moving up to HD sources, I was quite pleased with clips from Monday Night Football and the recent NHL All-Star Game (both recorded as native 720p), and the most recent Super Bowl (1080i). Images were clean and crisp, colors were faithfully reproduced, and the only artifacts (motion and gray-scale) I could see were those created in encoding these programs.
In fact, the P55XHA30WS' screen is large enough that you may start to see encoding problems in HD programs, such as blocking artifacts due to low bit rates and mosquito noise around fast-moving objects. Further tests with off-air signals from HDNet revealed the same problems from time to time.
For my last test, I popped in the 1080i version of Digital Video Essentials, on D-VHS tape. While the quality of the HD video is very high, I did see some false contours during fades down to and up from black. During the opening Space Shuttle sequence, contours could be spotted in the shots of Earth from orbit, and I saw them in some of the graphics transitions and dissolves.
To Summarize . . .
. . . the Fujitsu P55XHA30WS tracked the gray scale very nicely and had excellent color quality. But it was not entirely free of false contouring, particularly at low luminance levels. Even so, this is one of the better plasma monitors I've tested for home use in some time. Feed it a steady diet of 480p, 720p, and 1080i signals, and you, too, will like what you see.