Banking on its success selling relatively inexpensive plasmas, Gateway has expanded its lineup. The company introduced aand a 50-inch model earlier this summer, and August saw the release of Gateway's first high-resolution 42-inch panel. This latest entry has a native resolution of 1,024x1,024 pixels and definitely performs better than Gateway's same-size , which came out late in 2002. While the HD set's black-level performance is only so-so, we've seen worse, and the TV's other capabilities, especially color reproduction, are quite good. And at $3,999, the Gateway 42-inch HD plasma is a solid value.
The 4-inch-thick panel has a color scheme that even adventurous decorators will have a hard time blending into the living room: the finish is light gold, and a black bezel about 1 inch wide frames the screen. The buttons for power, volume, menu navigation, input selection, and other key functions are at the bottom right of the display. The package includes a table stand.
The HD plasma has the same large, comprehensive remote as Gateway's other 42-incher. Keys offering direct access to all inputs are extremely convenient, especially for custom installers and anyone else who programs universal remotes. Most of the functions hide behind a sliding door; after we removed it, the control was much more usable. Our other quibble was with the lack of button illumination.
The difference between HD and regular old SD, whether you're talking about plasmas from Gateway or some other manufacturer, is the number of pixels available to create the image. This 42-incher has 1,024x1,024 pixels, significantly more than an SD panel's 852x480 pixels but not quite enough for true HD resolution.
Unlike the plasma monitors of yore, this Gateway has a full feature package, including single-tuner PIP (picture in picture) and POP (split screen), a built-in NTSC tuner, and a pair of small speakers hidden in the back. You can choose from several color-temperature presets and, of course, multiple aspect ratios. Independent picture memory for each input, another very important feature for the initial setup stage, allows you to optimize the panel for all your different video sources.