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Electrograph DTS42PT Plasma TV Review

Model: Electrograph DTS42PT Plasma TV
Description: 42" LCD Television, 16:9 Widescreen Format
Resolution: 1,024 x 768 (XGA)
Includes: Remote control, integrated NTSC Tuner
Color: Black
Reviewer: Charles La Rosa
Date: June 2005

INTRODUCTION

The name Electrograph is probably new to you if you aren't a video-electronics wholesaler. The company, which is a leading distributor of name-brand display electronics, is branching out with their own line of flat-panel television products. Actually, “their own” is a bit of an overstatement. The first Electrograph televisions we got our hands on are made with panels from major LCD and plasma manufacturers. Electrograph shaves cost off the price of their TVs by using cheaper electronics and materials than the name brands use.

With manufacturers constantly pushing the envelope in terms of design, coming up with words to describe some of the latest TVs can challenge the most eloquent professional reviewers. The DTS42PT plasma television poses no such descriptive challenge -- it is a simple black box.

The Electrograph DTS42PT consists of a 42-inch Pioneer-manufactured plasma panel in an industrial frame. The screen is surrounded by black plastic and basic controls are located at the bottom right-hand side of the display. There are no speakers included with the television but we tested optional side-mount speakers from Electrograph. The plastic, 4-inch-wide speakers screw into the side of the television and are powered by the TV's internal amplifier.


Electrograph Plasma Television Review

One of the weaknesses of the television was its inability to display bright objects against a dark background

PICTURE QUALITY: 85/100

The DTS43PT's picture quality is a mix. Overall color is accurate, fast-motion scenes are handled well, and the television's viewing angles are respectable. Dark and high-contrast scenes pushed this television beyond its limits.

Before we turned on the Electrograph DTS42PT plasma television we knew that blacks would not leave us breathless. Even when the TV was off the screen was slightly gray. Since TVs do not get darker when you turn them on we knew we wouldn't be getting pitch-black darks, even though Electrograph reports a 3000:1 contrast ratio. While the dark-scene performance of the DTS42PT was poor, well-lit scenes came through with brightness and picture that matched the best plasma displays. One of the weaknesses of the television was its inability to display text and bright objects against a dark background without exhibiting a glowing halo around the bright object.

Viewing angles on the Electrograph DTS42PT compete with first-tier televisions. Outside of 140 degrees a slight reflection of the image on the glass was sometimes visible, but the picture can be seen well beyond Electrograph's modestly stated 160-degree viewing angle.

The DTS42PT plasma television can display a color accurate picture with no problems. The television has three standard picture settings: standard, vivid, and mild. On this TV vivid showed a believable picture for indoor scenes but washed out the image whenever natural sunlight was the primary light source. Mild resulted with image washout and horrible blacks; standard was our preferred setting. Fine tuning the image by adjusting the color to 40 on its scale helped overcome bluish and greenish overtones in the picture. We left the color-temperature setting at normal during our tests. With color settings tweaked to our liking, we were able to enjoy sunny tranquil scenes from the Sunny Florida Keys in Out of Time. When the cop-life turns bad for Chief-of-Police Matt Lee Whitlock (Denzel Washington) the action picked up and the occasional innocent bystander went flying. Fast movement posed no problem for the DTS42PT, it held its own with name brand displays. Even while watching The Fast and the Furious motion artifacts didn't appear on the Electrograph display. The DTS42PT plasma TV includes a 3D comb filter.

Two zoom settings can be used to scale 16:9 letter-boxed images to full screen. Both look elongated. The televisions supports picture-in-picture as well as split-screen viewing modes for watching two inputs simultaneously, including two broadcast channels. The dual-built-in NTSC tuners lack any fancy features, like the ability to display station or programming information, but do a fine job receiving signals.

The TV's 1024x768 XGA resolution, while not enough to display native HDTV, provides plenty of pixels to maintain HDTV images' integrity.


Electrograph Plasma TV inputs

This television's design and features make it more suitable for industrial use than home use

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: 81/100

This television's design and features make it more suitable for industrial use than bedroom use. Electrograph's decision to include a built-in tuner means they probably have some hope of selling this television to the consumer market. While every feature most users want in a television is present, implementation is sometimes inelegant. Save the Electrograph's menu system, nothing impressed us about this television.

An overly sensitive remote control is this television's Achilles' heel. Occasionally the remote will trigger so quickly that you'll bounce between three or four menu options with a single push of the button. The over sensitivity we experienced did seem to be intermittent, occasionally cropping up and driving us nuts, and at other times working fine. The menu system on the display is very good for a low-cost product and competes with some first-tier manufacturer's budget offerings.

The DTS42PT has three sets of composite inputs, one of which includes an s-video jack. There are two sets of component inputs, a VGA connector, a DVI input, and a cable/antennae coaxial jack. There are no front or side mounted inputs for connecting a camcorder; HDMI inputs on absent on this plasma television as well. We felt including only one s-video jack is a little stingy. While s-video is neither the best connector for maintaining video quality nor the cheapest cabling option, it is fairly common on many video sources and most televisions have at least two composite inputs supporting it.

Those who choose to use the overpriced Electrograph speakers get decent sound out of the overpriced 7-watt units. Attaching the speakers will require screwing 16 screws into the TV's metal frame and the speaker's cheap plastic.

Heat pours out of the DTS42PT. The top of the television gets hot enough to fry an egg on, even with two cooling fans exhausting air out of the back. 42-inch consumer plasmas like the Panasonic TH-42PD50U run for hours without fans and don't begin to approach the heat output of the DTS42PT. The DTS42PT does not generate much noise with its multiple fans running. However, over time, as bearings wear and dust packs in, fans can become a major source of noise.

The simple-remote control is nothing special to look at, but its layout is straightforward and it is comfortable to hold. The buttons on the front of the plasma television are confusing. The same up/down buttons are used for volume level and channel selection. The button to increase the channel/volume is located to the left of the button used for decreasing the settings. Mastering channel adjustment on this TV's transposed controls is good practice for a vacation to British Virgin Islands that includes any right-hand-driving.

The user's manual has good instructions but lacks an alphabetized index. Although the non-native-speaking authors went the extra mile to include British spellings of words alongside their American counterparts, they missed a few details like using hyphens to split words between lines and the occasional period.

With its optional stand the Electrograph DTS42PT is just under 41.25 inches wide, 27.75 inches tall, and 12 inches deep. The optional speakers add about 4 inches to each side. Electrographs lists power consumption at 300 watts. Allow as much space between your television and wall as you would between a 300-watt light bulb and your wall. The television, with speakers, weighs 91.5 pounds and is assembled in Korea.


VALUE: 82/100

Finding an XGA-resolution TV at this price with a built-in tuner is difficult. Most consumers would be better off saving $1000 and going with a consumer-oriented EDTV plasma or spending more to get a HDTV plasma television built with their needs in mind. For professional installations the same quality display can be had for about the same price directly from long-time manufacturers in the plasma market. Where initial costs are a paramount concern, the Electrograph DTS42PT could save a few dollars.


OVERALL RATING: 83.2/100 (picture double weighted)

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.







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