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Sony Plasma / Television Monitor Review

MODEL: SONY KZ-32TS1 / SONY PFM-32C1
By Robert Wiley
02-30-2002
Description: 32" widescreen 16:9 format HDTV plasma TV/monitor
Color: Silver
Model Introduction dates: Both February 2002
Warranty: 1 Year parts and labor on both models.

Most similar competition: 28" Sharp LCD monitor, 37" Panasonic Plasma monitor

**There are two model numbers for the 32" Sony plasma monitor. It is important to distinguish between the two. The Sony KZ-32TS1 is the consumer model of the version PFM-32C1 The differences follow:

Sony PFM-32C1 Sony KZ-32TS1

View Both units use the same panel, same remote control, look the same, same speakers, same 1024X852 resolution, same HDTV signal capability and so forth. Generally I would steer towards the PFM-32C1 since the circuitry and processing is better. Manufacturers will normally put more money into boards, chips and circuitry for a commercial model since they require greater flexibility and performance standards. Surprisingly, the superior commercial model can normally also be had for less money as well. I can always pick up a VCR as a tuner or just use a cable or satellite box. The PFM-32C1 will also last longer because of the split power consumption. The 160V required of the KZ model increases the chances of failure or default.

OVERVIEW
The ultimate test of all plasma TV's/monitors is how well they show when tested for video and or graphic display quality. Forget the native pixel resolution, the built in converter/scalar, the sometimes-unrealistic contrast ratio listed by the manufacturer. The real test is how the monitor blends all elements of design and engineering to affect the picture being presented.

The 32" Sony plasma is certainly and interesting unit. Sony has done a good job of correcting some past issues with the 42" plasma monitor offerings. They have improved the black levels, contrast and brightness in a single stroke with this display. The manufacturer is entering a "pure space" with no competition in the 32" flat panel market and it will be interesting to find out how many applications there are for this unit.

PICTURE - 94
With this new unit Sony has placed more emphasis on the conversion of interlaced signals to progressive to give the viewer a higher resolution signal to watch. There is also 3:2 pulldown technology included to give movie viewing a more natural experience by reducing motion artifacts.

I watched a good bit of normal low quality television on the unit and was impressed by the up conversion effects to progressive scan. The scalar did a very nice job and since the unit is 32" and has such small pixels (1024X852) it is difficult to see any "jaggies" on the outskirts of images. I would purchase this unit for viewing from a 6 to 12 foot distance range. With an HDTV signal of Jay Leno's Tonight Show the image really popped with jaw dropping clarity. It was truly captivating and my eyes took on a glazed over appearance . Sony has managed to increase the brightness of this unit, effectively increasing color hue. At the same time the black levels are deeper and thus the contrast of the unit is stunning. The new unpublished specification on contrast for this unit is 700:1 which on a 32" monitor will provide amazing definition. Colors are lifelike and I was extremely impressed by the improvements Sony has made with false contouring (motion artifacts in the dark grays and blacks).

I found it necessary to decrease brightness slightly to -15 to -20 and to increase contrast a bit to around 70 to 80. I would prefer this unit to any CRT offering I have seen when playing a 480p or better signal.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS - 91
If your remote control is again hiding in a couch crack, controls for the unit can be found handily on the top right hand side of the monitor. The unit can be fully operated by this completely hidden set of buttons, as even a volume control is located there in the event you are using the units' optional speakers and built in 7w amplifiers.

The optional speakers, while looking cool, seem a bit misplaced. They do not come flush with the front of the plasma and the top and bottom of the plasma is an in or two taller than the speakers. Somehow they come across looking super stylish, especially when combined the triangular well-designed table stand. The speakers fit snuggly in place on the sides of the monitors with two screws each and connect to the amplifier outputs on the left and right bottom of the monitor. One word of caution: the amp outputs for speaker wire are painfully small. Overall the unit has superb looks with or without the speakers. It only comes in brushed silver, but it is an expensive looking metallic shade.

The Sony PFM 32C1 was completely silent. There was no audible fan noise.

The input selections still leave something to be desired from Sony. The 32C1 has a composite in and out, s-video in, audio in for video, audio and out for computer, and two high definition 15 pin VGA style inputs - one for video and one for computer. The remote commander for the Sony plasma monitors is well laid out and easy to use. The zoom function is impressive.

Special Features
Strengths

Weaknesses VALUE - 82 This is a great plasma monitor product. Given certain applications such as yachts or condos, or computer graphics in an architectural firm it is a great fit. However, at a list of $5999.00 and current Internet company prices hovering around $5000.00 the price tag is hard to swallow for 32" inches of diagonal viewing. Still, for those wanting to de-emphasize their television, or those wanting to dramatically emphasize the importance of their computer activity - the Sony PFM-32C1 may be your baby.

OVERALL RATING (picture is double weighted) - 90.25

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