Tatung TPD5001S £4000
30th Apr 2006 | 23:00
Can this 50in plasma jump from boardroom to living room?
With plasma manufacturers having realised long ago that the future of bigscreen TV was in the domestic consumer market and not the corporate world, it's unusual for a display not to come with home cinema-friendly inputs.
But with no Scarts or integrated TV tuner, this 50in plasma from Tatung is really just a monitor. Fortunately, that doesn't stop it being a contender if watching movies on a huge screen is your solitary goal.
No oil painting
While not especially heavy, the TPD5001S's simple metallic surround is a bit plain. On the underside is a power-saving off switch (still far from standard on most screens) as well as all the inputs.
Down there are the external speaker connections for the two side-mounted (optional) speakers, one set of component video inputs, a DVI-D input, S-video input, composite video input, three phono inputs and a RS232C connection.
So is it HD-ready? Almost. Its 1,366 x 768 screen resolution is enough to show high-def footage, but sadly the DVI input is configured for PC only. So the only HD footage it can get is via its component inputs - meaning it'll miss out on much of Sky's HD broadcasts.
The transparent on-screen menus are corporate in style, but easy enough to use. As well as basic adjustable brightness, contrast and colour settings, there's preset picture modes for games and movies and a 'dynamic' and 'mild' setting.
Other innards of note in a basic roster of features is a panel protection option to lessen screenburn, and a Faroudja DCDi deinterlacing chip to scale-up footage.
A spin of our test DVD through the component video inputs, the crazy Asia Extreme movie Save the Green Planet, revealed some mixed news. As the bonkers Byung-Gu races around seeking out aliens, there was a distinct 'black hole' approach to dark areas of the image, and a lack of detail apparent in our 'hero's' black cape, suggesting low contrast.
These problems create a soft image, although it's not all bad news - the picture was very bright and there wasn't much annoying noise in backgrounds. Peak whites were represented well, too, and colours as vibrant as you would ever need.
What's more, although skin tones looked a bit orange from Save the Green Planet, there were no such problems with the skin of Meet the Fockers' camped-up star cast. There was also an impressive level of detail in close-ups from this disc, although horizontal movement did sometimes suffer from a jumpy, blurred appearance.
Sound from the bolt-on speakers is more to write home about, with the 'movie' preset (there are also presets for speech and music) deepening the soundstage nicely.
Despite its slight performance flaws, we have to say that our overall impression of this Tatung is that it produces a soft, but very cinematic image that's largely a pleasure to watch - especially in conjunction with those optional speakers. That said, it does trip up with the demands of high-octane movies. And at £4,000, the picture foibles and lack of a tuner and Scart make this a rather pricey and not very versatile plasma.