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Fujitsu Plasma TV Review

Models: Fujitsu P42HHA31 and P42HHA30 Plasma Televisions
Descriptions: 42-inch HDTV Plasma Displays, Widescreen 16:9 Format
Resolutions: 1024 x 1024 (WXGA)
Include: Remote
Colors: P42HHA31: Dark silver with black ribbon around plasma screen
           P42HHA30: Light metallic silver with black ribbon around plasma screen
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Date: 07-01-04

Difference Between Units: If you ever get confused with Fujitsu model numbers, just remember that even numbers are for the consumer model and odd for the broadcast/commercial side. Nothing except the above differences and the class rating, which is broadcast/commercial for the P42HHA30 and consumer for the P42HHA31. Only other difference is BNC style connection input jacks on the P42HHA31 and the less-secure RCA style inputs on the P42HHA30.

Test Equipment: Pioneer DV37 Progressive scan DVD player, digital satellite run through Panasonic TU-HDS20 HDTV decoder/satellite receiver, Toshiba W412 VCR, Pluge pattern and calibration testing with Video Essentials DVD, IBM PC.


Viewing video presentation equipment side-by-side using the same pure video sources (without looping the signal) is the only way to truly test and grade these technologically advanced TV/Monitor displays. Internal interpolation, conversion, and scaling all affect the way the naked eye perceives the image quality presented - regardless of the native pixel resolution. Several sources must be used with varying signal resolution. Different computer signal resolutions must be tested as well with both text and graphics programming.

Fujitsu was one of the first companies to enter the plasma display market in the U.S. and Canada. They have really promoted the perception of first entry status and attempted to leverage that idea into increased market share. And, to some extent, the strategy seems to be working. They are moving product from their myriad of model numbers, primarily through small profit hungry specialized A/V retailers. I will explain this in detail later in the review. . And to some extent the strategy seems to be working. They are moving product from their myriad of model numbers, primarily through small profit hungry specialized AV retailers. I will explain this in detail later in the review.

The two model numbers listed above replace the PDS-4241 and PDS-4242 and offer excellent improvements over the previous models in contrast, brightness, and scaling. Fujitsu and Hitachi manufacture the glass for this plasma panel in Kyushu, Japan, as opposed to the 50" unit, which they purchase from Panasonic.

How does their new slate of plasma display offerings stack up against the competition? Let's unravel one of the most enigmatic brands in the consumer electronics industry.


The image quality from video sources such as DVD players, HDTV receivers, digital cable or satellite, and even VCR's render the primary concerns for testing picture quality. We use at least three different sources for testing each unit, since plasma display images can vary greatly between signal sources. The input sources for the different models tested are exactly the same to keep the results pure. There is no looping the signal through switchers or the plasma monitors themselves.

The P42HHA31/30, Fujitsu's most current offerings, displayed incredible color brilliance and brightness. The factory settings on the unit are set very bright which will drive the unit hard and cause burn in or fading quicker than some of its counterparts. In our dark test room facility I found it necessary to decreased contrast to -20 and brightness to -5 on the unit to optimize it's performance and bring it closer to the operating level of the Panasonic TH-42PWD6UY. There was less visible false contouring (effectively blending dark gray and blacks) after modifying the factory settings. There was less visible false contouring (effectively blending hard gray and blacks) after modifying the factory settings.

The first signal I tested with the Fujitsu offering was a low-end (480i or less) digital satellite connection. Compared to other units tested (NEC 42VP4, Hitachi CMP4202U, Panasonic TH-42PWD6UY) I felt the Fujitsu offering displayed more pixelation (a pulsating visual artifact effect) with lower end video feeds. Indeed, I will be the first to challenge the internal AVM (their Advanced Video Movement digital video signal processor), which Fujitsu claims, "eliminates motion artifacts and flicker, improves vertical resolution and reproduces natural movement with ease."

Despite its brightness, the units attempt to blend the color information presented - left me believing Fujitsu has some ways to go technologically with their scalar/processor and internal video card circuitry. Aside from the motion artifacts bringing some distraction there was a good bit of graininess and lack of definition. This appeared to be caused by light leakage from the pixel structure. Around dark or black edges there was some visible color seepage - lending a shadowing effect. This was also a problem on the larger 50" Fujitsu models. Some of these issues with the lower signals tested is due to the amount of interpolation the internal processor scalar must do to scale or re-map the signal to the native 1024X1024 resolution.

Overall, the unit has issues with up-conversion of low-end video signals (250i to 480i satellite, cable or VCR) to its native pixel resolution. The unit's graininess is increased quite dramatically with these signals. It clearly prefers (as do all plasma displays) an HDTV signal. Nevertheless, Fujitsu should spend more time with the internal scaling and interpolating circuitry to upgrade images from poorer signal sources, which continue to represent 95% of today's programming.

With a DVD player signal from a 480p progressive scan player the Fujitsu P42HHA31/30 plasma display performed very well. Black levels increase with the upgraded signal sources and are strong. There is a lot of re-mapping of the signal going on - as with any 1024 monitor. This was evident in a few scenes of Blade Runner with has lots of dark scenes, allowing for a thorough test of the units contouring. It rendered tolerable blacks, but I still prefer the 853X480 models from Panasonic or NEC for DVD.

The Fujitsu P42HHA31/30 unit displayed a clearer, sharper picture than the larger 50" unit, showing much less of the "color blending" which was prevalent on the 50's. This was the case with any signal tested. Thus, distance is not as much an issue to the user with the 42" plasma because of these factors.

With an HDTV 1080i signal, about any plasma monitor will shine, and the Fujitsu plasmas are no exception. The three dimensional effect of images in 1080i mode is just stunning on the P42HHA31/30. . The high brightness levels bring a depth and vibrancy to the picture to the point where blemishes on performer's faces become apparent. Black levels/contrast have been improved significantly from earlier offerings and are nearing some of the better units in the market.

Computer scaling was excellent with an XGA signal 1024X768 and due to the small pixel size the unit is especially suited for text applications such as power point presentations or public display menus.


Connectivity choices for Fujitsu's offerings are fairly standard for today with video signal inputs for s-video, composite, and component. Computer signal inputs are RGBHV, VGA, and a DVI-D interface.

The Fujitsu plasma displays have excellent adjustment functionality for vertical or horizontal positioning of images. This is a versatile asset for presentation materials from computer sources and can be used in viewing streaming video as well. It is specifically very useful in retail storefront applications. Aspect ratio modes for the plasma are Normal (4:3), Wide 1, Wide 2, Zoom 1, and Zoom 2. The zoom options are extreme and will probably not be used except for presentation. Images appear stretched and lose a great deal of the picture and detail. I found Wide 2 mode to be preferred for receiving a DVD 16:9 signal, and the Wide 1 setting to scale a 4:3 image. The P42HHA31/30 displays black bars on the left and right of a 4:3 image as opposed to gray bars used on the Pioneer models.

There are plenty of menu adjustments available on the Fujitsu plasma displays if the factory settings are not for you. The rough text includes three gamma settings for adjustment as well as white balance settings. The unit was much more solid than previous Fujitsu offerings in the grayscale/contouring area with smooth transitions on a 256-level ramp. Indeed, most major manufacturers of plasma have made great strides in this area.

Both models are very sharp looking with clean, refined bezel lines. The bezel adds an inch to an inch and a half in width. The unit measures 3.3 inches depth, a .2-inch reduction from the previous model. Though beautiful, the metallic silver is typically too bright for my tastes - not adequately framing the picture, nor matching many décors.



VALUE - 74

Fujitsu has a reputation for using price points to distinguish their products from those of their competitors. Hence Fujitsu's plasma TV monitors tend to be on the pricey side. With street price of $5500-$6000, the P42HHA31 is one of the more expensive 42-inch flat panel displays on the market these days. Considering the fact that superior Panasonic and Pioneer product offerings can be found for about $1000 less, one wonders who will pay more for less, picture-wise and circuitry-wise, with the Fujitsu P42HHA31?


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.

Fujitsu P42HHA31 & P42HHA30 88 88 74 84.5

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