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Toshiba Plasma TV Review

Model: Toshiba 42HP83P Plasma Television
Description: 42-inch HDTV Plasma Display, Widescreen 16:9 Format
Resolution: 1024 x 768 (WXGA)
Includes: Built in NTSC tuner, 2 X 10W speakers, plasma tabletop stand, universal remote control
Color: Black border with silver speakers and tabletop stand
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Date: April 2004

INTRODUCTION

The unit I tested was manufactured in February of 2004 - hot off the assembly line. Toshiba has long had a solid reputation in the television market for a nice combination of quality and value. The same is true of this plasma offering. It is well thought out from the remote layout to the unique design with a sleek overlay Plexiglas protective screen.

The 42HP83P replaces the previous model - 42HP82P, as the third generation offering of Toshiba 42" plasma.


PICTURE - 93

One of the first features that impressed me with this plasma television is the antiglare feature it offers. This unusual characteristic succeeds in cutting out background ambient light while avoiding the hazy, washed out appearance this addition can cause.

Clarity of picture detail was perhaps the greatest strength of this plasma when compared to others. Even with the sharpness control tuned down to 25% from its factory setting of 50, the unit just has excellent clear images.

Colors on this plasma had tremendous pop from my progressive scan DVD player. During the fight night scene from the DVD release of Spiderman reds and blues sparkle simultaneously, while black hues viewed in the uniform of Toby McGuire's villainous opponent maintained depth. Reflections on the cage were clear, as the Toshiba had no problem displaying the fast action sequences with no motion artifacts.

In one particularly dark, difficult scene displayed in the recently released DVD, Open Range, Duvall and Costner raid the enemy camp around a fire. Images around the campfire appeared with a reddish glow but there was pretty good detail in dark objects overall, and more importantly, no discernable false contouring in the gradations.

I was overly impressed with the Toshiba's handling my test discs as well. Animal color rendition was perfect when tested next to other displays while stellar light admittance through the pixels was obvious - rendering a very bright smooth image. My only complaint with the picture of the plasma TV was one of my redundant complaints with white balance. A TV with white balance that starts with a pinkish tone will end up with flesh tones that lean toward red. It's a common mistake, but to me it adversely affects the realism of facial hues. I increased the tint control to +25 to offset some of this issue.

Black levels were intense and satisfying, the plasma did lose a small amount of definition in dark to black areas of images.

With HDTV this true high definition TV displays crystal clear images. Of course it does, as does almost any HDTV ready display with an over the air ATSC signal. All the usual - three-dimensional effects, rich color, and uncommon clarity and precision.

The Toshiba plasma comes with several preset picture options, which adeptly change the contrast, sharpness and tint levels. These selections include movie, standard, sports, and preference (which allow the user to choose his/her own settings. My preferred setting was the movie setting in our dark controlled light showroom. The sports setting increases contrast to a peaked 100%. While it may really pop to the viewer - having contrast set at this high level will reduce the life of your plasma TV in half.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS - 94


The Toshiba plasma is first and foremost a gorgeous looking display. It is right there with the Sony XBR plasma models in aesthetic considerations. It has an outer shielding of Plexiglas. The deep black contrast border surrounding the image area is 3.25" wide. The contained silver side speakers (non removable) are 4" in width and the full height of the screen. A 20 pound included tabletop stand is brushed silver and matches the speakers. And as one little design extra this plasma contains a flip down control panel on the bottom left hand side of the display case - a nice cool addition. All in all it's very impressive.

There are 5 aspect ratio offerings - Theaterwide 1, 2, 3, Full and Natural. Theaterwide 2 acts as the zoom feature for the piece while the Full aspect allows the viewer to view 16:9 film content (DVD) in its originally intended format. Lastly the Natural selection is used for watching 4:3 images with side gray bars, which are adjustable to three different hues of gray.

Audio from the non-detachable speakers registers 10W per speaker. I found the audio function to be sufficient in our showroom but far from overwhelming.

Up conversion of NTSC programming was excellent. Of course, with plasma this depends very much upon the quality of the incoming signal. But I found the scaling and conversion algorithms to be well thought out and with only slight "stretch" effect when used correctly.

Power consumption is a hefty 301 watts on average, but the plasma runs very cool and with only a slight fan humming noise (even though it is fanless).

Input selection is complete containing 2 component, 2 composite, 2 s-video, and a couple of coaxial RF style inputs. There is also a DVI/HDCP input, which is primarily included for high definition reception, but may also be used for PC input.

VALUE - 96

Toshiba has poured some evident sophistication of design and engineering in to this plasma TV. I would be proud to own it. The 42HP83P competes very well quality and style wise with the Sony XBR, Sony XS910, or Pioneer Elite plasmas for less $$. At street prices of around $4000 or less, this plasma is a good buy from a recommended reseller/ authorized dealer.

The Toshiba 42HP83P is one of the best values around for a high-resolution plasma screen display.

OVERALL RATING - 93.7 (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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