Dell W4200HD - 42 plasma TV review: Dell W4200HD - 42 plasma TV

Anybody who looks closely at the W4200HD's spec sheet will probably do a double take at the prodigious input section. This plasma puts forth a total of 13 renameable inputs, and conveniently the menu can gray out inactive ones for quicker access. The crowded back panel includes one each of DVI, HDMI, and VGA connectors; two component-video; two S-Video; two composite-video (all with stereo audio); and one RF input each for digital and analog TV. The jack pack is rounded out by the aforementioned side-panel inputs with composite and S-Video; a composite A/V output; and both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs.

Overall, the W4200HD is capable of producing as good an image as most plasmas out there, although it still has issues displaying darker images and decoding color correctly. Naturally, brighter images and high-def sources looked better.

Prior to calibration, the W4200HD's color temperature came relatively close to the standard in the Normal preset, although the grayscale tended to veer severely into green at the bottom (darker) end. The green tinge was visible on pretty much all darker material. After calibration, it was largely gone, although the entire grayscale wasn't too much closer to the standard.

When we slipped Alien into the DVD player after setting brightness to expose all of the film's shadow detail, we immediately observed that the panel wasn't capable of delivering the inky blacks we've seen on some plasmas. On the other hand, the void of space around the Nostromo, and the letterbox bars, looked a bit darker than on some plasmas we've seen. We did notice some video noise, which looked like flecks of red and green in the black when examined closely, but it wasn't visible from farther than about eight feet from the screen.

Turning to lighter material, we looked at Chapter 12 of Seabiscuit. Flesh tones appeared accurate, although the green of the grass lacked just a bit of luster when we compared it to our reference KD-34XBR960 --a result of the Dell's tendency to deaccentuate green compared to other colors. Happily, we noticed few signs of false contouring, and details were sharp and well resolved.

Something strange happened when we tested the set for 2:3 pull-down detection. S-Video sources looked fine, but when we switched the component-video output of our Denon DVD-2900 DVD player to interlaced mode, the picture disappeared. It came back sporadically, but in the end was unwatchable. This occurred only with the Denon, not with the Sony RDR-HX900 or, fortunately, with Xbox.

Turning to HDTV via our DirecTV feed, we watched an airing of HDNet's World Report that dealt with the issue of whether people around the world despised Americans. Even from up close, the images looked stunning, with razor-sharp details and well-saturated color; in short, it was everything we expected from high-def. We did notice jagged edges and unnatural movement in one off-vertical column behind a Russian interviewee, but most 1,024x768 plasmas we've seen show these artifacts. Test signals from our Accupel HDTV signal generator showed that the WD4200 was slightly sharper and cleaner via the HDMI input, although the component inputs were extremely clean themselves.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 6,066/5,970K Good
After color temp (20/80) 6,779/5,958K Poor
Before grayscale variation ±517K Average
After grayscale variation ±477K Poor
Overscan 3% Good
Color decoder error: red 0% Good
Color decoder error: green -20% Poor
DC restoration All patterns stable Good
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good

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    Where to Buy

    Dell W4200HD

    Part Number: 42H1YRD Released: Nov 15, 2004
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Nov 15, 2004
    • Display Format 720p
    • Diagonal Size 42 in
    • Type plasma TV