The Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma TV



I feel very lucky to have many online friendships and personal acquaintances that helped me finalize the decision to purchase a new television for my basement. This was to replace a 20 year-old behemoth Sony tube. Although my initial price factor dictated that I buy a 30"+ LCD system I was luckily persuaded to the decision to upgrade to a Plasma TV. Out of the box the visual quality in my pitch black basement was the best image I have ever seen - and I did enter many Home Theatre store demo rooms in my search. I suspect that how dark I could get the room is a huge factor as well as the HD-upconverting DVD player with HDMI connection. I will simply relate below some, mostly non-technical points, that arose in my decision process, my installation and my subsequent viewings. 



After extensive online research I came to the conclusion that the Samsung, one of the few companies that make their own panels, was the best 'bang' I was going to get for my 'buck' - and it was actually less money than many comparably sized LCD's. (LCD's are good in well-lit rooms but can't touch a plasma in extreme darkness).


I was initially concerned about the longevity of the plasma canisters but was assured that the estimated 60,000 hours represented about 7 years of normal TV use. As I don't have any broadcast cable input into my home, and this is not my main system, I expected my usage to be far less than 'normal family' viewing. Add to that factor technology increases so rapidly (akin to PC's) that I expect us to replace this far sooner that its shelf life. By the way, once the plasma gas is depleted, it is not refilled, the TV thrown on the scrap heap. I highly doubt this will be an issue for anyone.


To mount the Plasma on a wall (this is the best way, in my opinion, to position for unencumbered viewing and esthetic appearance) you require an external 'wall mount'. These range from a static one (about $130) to a swivel-able extension mount ($700). I chose the static-with-up-down-tilt mount for around $200. It is fairly easy to install, but there is one major point that I didn't see mentioned in any of the manuals. I strongly suggest connecting the necessary cables (RCA, Component, S-Video, Co-axial and/or HDMI) before mounting on the wall. The connections are mostly in the back of the Samsung unit and very hard to plug in once the television is secured to the wall (it is not flat to the wall - it has only a 3 inch gap).

NOTE: It comes with a very heavy and sturdy built-in stand (you can remove with a screwdriver for wall-mounting) if you choose to go that route.


An essential purchase (yes, another one) once you have decided to go Plasma is an HD-upconverting DVD player (kind of akin to a line-doubler) connected through HDMI that is scalable to 576P (PAL)/720p/1080i for LCD/plasma/DLP displays for superior picture. Yes, that is right too - my Samsung HD-850 DVD (available HERE) player plays PAL (region 0) - what a bonus! It makes a huge difference to the image - it intensifies colors and definitely improves the picture detail. This set me back about $140 (and the potentially expensive HDMI cable is included with the player!)


I've been told that for the first 3-6 months of operation I shouldn't watch any non-1.78 aspect ratio DVDs as it has a potential to burn-in on the screen (ex. on the sides if you play a 1.33 ratio DVD). I am still investigating if this is true because I may find it a bit of a drawback after my first few months of sampling widescreen DVDs.


With no external audio system installed everyone I demo the plasma to is immensely shocked at the sound depth of the built-in speakers. They are almost as impressive as the image (Yes, that good!). This was a deciding factor over buying the 42" Philips plasma and its reportedly weak audio.


I've heard complaints about the remote but my Samsung DVD player remote is universal to activate and control the plasma TV. I have no issues with it at all.


In my limited experience, Pixar animation DVDs (Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, Monster's Inc., The Incredibles etc. ) look the best of the few DVDs that I have watched. In fact, once I put in a Pixar film I can't seem to turn it off (meaning I have trouble physically walking away). It is mesmerizing - I've watched Nemo and The Incredibles 5 times each in the past week. I have confessed to a friend that I fear it is adjusting my enjoyment of film. I had always hoped to write an article on how the perception of DVD image quality can affect film appreciation. I doubt I am going to become one of those guys hooked on the widescreen ratio and intense impressions of sound and image - I'll remain a world and classic cinema geek. :)


Frankly, the digital photos I have taken above (and one below), don't really do the Samsung justice. NOTE: Many years ago Pioneer produced a 40" tube TV (their only one) that showed the color: lime-green - extremely well. For some reason this has always been an issue with tubes (paler greens don't have any vibrancy), but the Samsung with upconverting player show all colors of the spectrum as bright and luminescent as I have ever seen - it is kind of hypnotizing it looks so dramatically pristine.


Bottom line: I have no complaints and to say that 'the price is well-worth it' would be a vast understatement. I haven't had the time to test out all the features but if I find something exceptional or pointedly flawed I will post my comments here. My only minor negative was trying to hook-in the inputs in the back of the panel after installing on the wall - a bit of a pain - do it first. The Plasma's should come with a warning, as, like, say, the Star Trek holodeck... you could just catatonically waste your life using it if you aren't careful!



  Gary W. Tooze


DVD Review: The Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma TV





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