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Sony Plasma Tv

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The Sony KE-42M1 WEGA plasma TV is Sony's latest "entry level flat panel TV," making it the lower-resolution counterpart to Sony's other entry-level plasma display, the KE-42TS2. This plasma television boasts sleek styling, and the all-in-one functionality for which Sony's consumer plasma display products are known. The KE-42M1 plasma display has several step-up features, including a totally re-engineered plasma TV panel driver, next-generation Direct Digital Circuitry II, and new picture-enhancing circuitry. Because of such improvements, this Sony plasma display's second-generation digital circuitry actually enhances the analog-to-digital signal conversion, which optimizes the signal for processing in the plasma unit's V1 circuitry. As with the KE-42TS2 Sony Plasma TV, the KE-42M1 plasma television has an all digital, HDCP-enabled HDMI input for viewing high definition, copy protected video signals.

What was surprising, given the KE-42M1's initial over-the-top out-of-the-box performance, was has accurate we were able to make this plasma TV by simply changing its picture preset. After using our Video Essentials test disc to calibrate the picture, we realized that our preferred settings were identical to those found on the PRO global picture preset. In PRO mode, picture is very close to the 6500K standard, has excellent DC restoration, and is quite natural looking. In other words, the KE-42M1 (set on PRO mode, where the default color temperature setting is NEUTRAL) is essentially calibrated for normal, home-theater-like viewing circumstances with a simple press of the PICTURE button on its remote! The other global picture setting, besides VIVID and PRO, is STANDARD, which looked a bit oversaturated color-wise, especially in faces, where the warmth (or red-ness) of this setting was obvious.

While Sony does not specify the contrast ratio for the KE-42M1, our tests showed that, on PRO, where PICTURE = 25 (on a 0 to 100 scale) and BRIGHTNESS = 50 (on a 0 to 100 scale), light output was quite high at 64fL. Black levels were about average at 0.124fL. The Sony KE-42M1's real-world contrast ratio was in the neighborhood of 516:1, which puts this plasma TV somewhere in the middle of the pack of 42-inch plasma display panels.

If there was one area where the KE-42M1 Sony plasma TV failed to live up to our by now lofty expectations, this was in its dark-material detailing department. Generally, we found the KE-42M1 passable with respect to revealing details within and near black, but there were times when such detailing lacked fullness and clarity. During our screening of Terminator 2, we noticed scenes where dark-material detailing might have been lost to overzealous blacks. Both instances were admittedly difficult dark and shadowy scenes in T2, notably the opening montage of the future war between humans and robots. As the camera pans a battlefield, for example, a number of human skulls are visible in the foreground, but are partly obscured or "blacked out" by too-black shadows. Details like these should never been entirely "erased" from a scene. The subtlety of the KE-42M1's dark matter detailing was not quite there, though one would probably never notice this outside a direct-comparison test of the monitor.

The Sony KE-42HM1 plasma television has a number of viewing modes: WIDE ZOOM, NORMAL, FULL, and ZOOM. Use WIDE ZOOM to enlarge the picture to fill the screen with the least distortion possible. NORMAL displays 4:3 pictures with gray bars. FULL enlarges the original picture horizontally to fit 4:3 pictures to 16:9 proportions. When the original source is 16:9, select this mode to display 16:9 pictures in their original sizes. ZOOM enlarges the picture without distorting the aspect ratio. I preferred watching DVDs on FULL, which delivers them in their original 16:9 format, as the algorithmic scaling on both ZOOM and WIDE ZOOM tended to clip the outer edges of the picture slightly, thus obscuring some content on its fringes. We also noticed that WIDE ZOOM tended to compress the picture vertically. The ZOOM display mode did a good job fitting the picture for the full screen, as we hardly detected any vertical stretching therein.

The KE-42M1 comes equipped with a number of life-extending features for its display element. This plasma unit has a handy "picture off" function, which is activated by the PIC OFF button on the remote. This allows one to listen to music from satellite TV music channels without having the plasma display element turned on needlessly. This is a useful feature for people who like having the TV on for background noise, but do not want to deplete their plasma display's useful lifespan or risk burn-in.

INTRODUCTIONThe ultimate test of all plasma TV's is how well they show when they are actually tested for video or computer image quality. Forget the native pixel resolution, the built in converter/scalar, the sometimes-unrealistic contrast ratio listed by the manufacturer. The manufacturer that wants to sell their product provides the specifications. Comparing TV's of any kind side by side with the same input signal playing the same video material at the same moment is the best way to truly understand how the signal information is received, converted and shown to the naked eye. With plasma display monitors the differences are sometimes much more pronounced than with other types of televisions.

Sony brought this 50" plasma offering in May of 2002 with essentially the same technology that they have incorporated into the new PFM 42B2U and the PFM 32C1. Images and scaling characteristics appear very similar on all three as do color temps, contrast and black levels. The following are some of the changes and added features to this latest generation plasma display. First, they have added progressive line doubling techniques to the unit's conversion capabilities. Secondly, they have drastically increased the black levels and contrast. Next, Sony has provided 3:2 pulldown implementation to display original film sources. Lastly, in making these changes to cut some corners they have made the unit more affordable by coming down to a retail price of $9000 and with recent online prices of around $8000.

The image quality from video sources and graphics displayed by computer input are really the primary concerns when considering plasma TV's for purchase. All else falls under "Other Considerations" for this reviewer's purposes. I found the Sony 50C1 to be a very sound enjoyable plasma. Sony has really focused on aspects of this new model that drastically improve the black levels and contrast over the previous offerings. The changes are welcome. I was delighted to see the improvement, especially when displaying a lower end signals such as 250 to 480 lines of horizontal resolution from cable, satellite, or VCR. The Sony 50C1 also performed excellent up-conversion work from a 480 interlaced source from DVD. The unit performed amazingly well - displaying deep rich black levels, vibrant color saturation, and bright clear images. This is the work of the new built in progressive scan converter. With this signal of 480i, the unit actually outperformed even my reference standard Panasonic 50". Strangely, when the DVD player was set to 480 progressive scan mode, the Sony plasma TV picture suffered - becoming lighter in the blacks, and displaying less color richness. Recommendation: When using a DVD source - input a regular 480i signal instead of 480 progressive. This will save you a few $$ on your DVD player purchase. Why is this the case Your guess is as good as mine. The internal scalar converter is conflicting with the incoming progressive signal.

The Sony plasma TVs have always had excellent color reproduction and vibrancy. Colors on this display were rich and soothing and the brightness level was excellent on this plasma. Sony has corrected the "washed out, faded" image appearance of the previous 42" plasma 42B1U with the new and improved scan converter. Contrast has been significantly improved as well to an unspecified (by Sony) level. And now there is little to no noticeable false contouring.

This is a very enjoyable plasma display. Cable and satellite 4:3 image scaling to full screen size is effective but there is some visible stretching. This can be somewhat corrected and compensated for by the vertical and horizontal enlargement features the unit offers.

The Sony 50C1 offers four aspect options for viewing: W ZOOM to enlarge a 4:3 image to the 16:9 screen as naturally as possible; LB ZOOM (letterbox zoom) to enlarge images in various aspect ratios to fit proportionally to the left and right sides of the screen; 4X3 to display standard 4:3; and 16X9 to display standard 16:9 widescreen image. For inputs the unit has an s-video, composite video, audio input, and two VGA type 15 pin inputs, a weak input selection compared to other plasma TV's.

The remote commander (Sony's word) was one of the best I used with special controls for contrast, brightness, and all of the input options listed separately. The look of the unit is stunning. Sony has engineered some looks into this plasma display. It is razor thin around the edges (maybe an inch) and slopes down the back and sides to make it look even thinner. The 50" Sony plasma display offering is produced only in a striking silver with black ribbon banding around the picture to add contrast. It is a piece of artwork in and of itself. The control buttons are seen on the lower right hand corner of the monitor in an attractive diagonal manner. I measure the depth at 4.

One more "other consideration" for this plasma panel is hookup options. The unit has two VGA 15 pin inputs in the input cavity. The top input may be used for DVD component input or high definition input from a decoder box. In the case of a DVD player or some HDTV decoder boxes a special component to VGA cable will need to be applied. The second VGA input is to be used for input from a PC computer source. The Sony 42B2U then contains one s-video for use with a DVD player or satellite box, and one composite input selection for use with cable signals, or VCR. It has just enough inputs to get the job done. Watch your system configuration when using this plasma display. 59ce067264


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