Fujitsu Plasmavision SlimScreen PDS-5002 HD plasma display Page 2
The Picture menu screen is the one you'll access most often. Most of the picture adjustments have numbers assigned to them, which means that you can return to them precisely if someone changes them (provided you've written them down). The controls can also be individually adjusted for each input.
In addition to all the standard video adjustments (Contrast, Brightness, Color, Tint, Sharpness), there are controls for Gamma, Color Temperature, and Video Noise Reduction. A full discussion of gamma would take more space than we have in this review, but briefly: Gamma is the relationship between the input level to a display and the resulting video output. For a number of reasons, it is not a linear function. Gamma must fall within a narrow range to properly reproduce a video signal. An incorrect gamma setting can make an image look flat and bland or artificially hyped, and no amount of tweaking of Brightness and Contrast can make it right. I did most of my viewing with the Fujitsu's Gamma control set on Dynamic1.
The four Color Temperature settings are Warm, Standard, Cool, and User. Of the first three, fixed, settings, Warm (not Standard) proved to be the closest to correct. It looked quite good, but our measurements showed it to be far enough off that calibrating the User setting produced a noticeable improvement (see "Calibration" sidebar). There are Red, Green, and Blue adjustments on the user Color Temperature submenu, but these control the overall level of these colors; there are no user-accessible settings for separate adjustment at the top and bottom of the Brightness range.
Finally, there are four levels of Video Noise Reduction: Off, Min, Std, and Max. With good source material, however, Off, or at most Min, are the only settings you're ever likely to need.
One important caveat concerning the onscreen controls: After you make a change in any of the settings, you must press Enter to save it. If you back out of the menu without pressing Enter, any changes you made will revert to the last saved values.
The remote is simple, and easy to operate. I could find fault only with the navigation controls, which are too cramped, and the all-too-common lack of backlighting. The volume-control buttons are inoperative with this set, and the four Shift buttons are active only if you're using two to four PDS-5002s in the same vicinity.
On two occasions the Fujitsu failed to respond to the remote, but the problem seemed to cure itself after I fumbled around for a few minutes. Once, though, I had to reset the display by unplugging it before it would function normally again.
All plasmas are power-hungry (this one is rated at 5.7 amps) and generate a lot of heat—a cooling fan is standard equipment. The Fujitsu's is a bit noisier than on other plasmas I have tested, but it was still relatively quiet. I found it to be barely audible from about 8 feet away in a very quiet room, and completely masked by the sound of any program material.
Like CRTs, plasma displays are susceptible to phosphor burn, which can leave a permanent, ghostlike image on the screen from stationary images displayed too long. While I wouldn't be overly paranoid about the risk, plasma owners should exercise caution when displaying such images and, in particular, bright computer displays and video games. Video games may seem to have a lot of motion, but many of them have stationary backgrounds. Another possible burn-in concern is letterbox bars. Widescreen "scope" films that don't quite fill the screen from top to bottom (wider than 1.85:1) did leave a very subtle after-shadow on the screen after about an hour. (This was visible only on a near-black source such as an unused input.) The same is true of the side "windowbox" bars that appear on 4:3 material in the Normal aspect mode. This effect disappeared after a few minutes of full-screen use, but suggests that excessive watching of images that fill only part of the screen, without the restorative effect of full-screen operation, could result in more permanent shading.
Apart from exercising caution with still images, the secret of preventing burn-in is to avoid excessively high contrast settings and an excessive amount of time watching aspect ratios that don't fill the screen. That doesn't mean you can't watch, say, three "scope" films in a row, or an evening of 4:3 programming. But it does mean that if you plan a marathon movie session, you might want to alternate films of different aspect ratios, choosing some (1.85:1) movies that fill the panel. If you can get accustomed to the screen-filling stretch mode (Wide1) for at least some 4:3 programming, you might want to use it as much as possible, particularly for that TV Land holiday special featuring every episode of Gilligan's Island.
I did my usual first-cut calibration of the Fujitsu by setting its gray scale to the most obviously correct of the preset options, Warm, and tweaking the user video controls with the Video Essentials DVD. Even with Contrast turned all the way down, I still measured 29 foot-Lamberts at maximum input (100 IRE) without blooming or crushing the whites. (Blooming is not an issue with plasmas, even though the technology involves phosphors.)
Test patterns looked superb on the PDS-5002, and black-level restoration was good. Color bars were exceptionally crisp, and the geometry outstanding—as it should be on a fixed-pixel display. A continuous luminance ramp (Video Essentials, title 18, chapter 6) showed a very slight degree of stair-stepping but no false color bands. This stair-stepping is typical of plasma displays, all of which are currently restricted to 8-bit video processing. This limits the display to only 256 different brightness levels. This limitation can result in posterizing or false contouring, which gives the image a "paint-by-numbers" appearance, particularly in dark scenes along shadow lines. While the Fujitsu was not entirely free of this phenomenon, it was only rarely visible, and even less often a distraction. I don't consider it to be an important issue with this set.