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Haier 42EP14S review: Haier 42EP14S

Haier 42EP14S

Kevin Miller

See full bio
4 min read

Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.

4.6

Haier 42EP14S

The Good

Solid color decoding at factory presets; decent video processing with 2:3 pull-down.

The Bad

Poor black-level performance; lack of independent memory per input; visible false-contouring artifacts; lack of service controls for proper calibration; no picture control on DVI input.

The Bottom Line

You get what you pay for here. This plasma is cheap, yes, but ready for home-theater use? No.
Intro
Haier, a manufacturer of air conditioners and other majaps (major appliances), is yet another company outside of the traditional consumer electronics arena looking for a little slice of the plasma TV pie. Its 42EP14S is a 42-inch EDTV plasma that's one of least-expensive models in its size class, costing around $2,300 online. Like other budget plasmas we've reviewed, we can't recommend the 42EP14S for serious home-theater use, but it performs well enough to possibly fit the bill as a family room set where critical viewing is not an issue. That said, with cutthroat Internet pricing, it faces stiff competition from better-performing, equally affordable panels, such as Panasonic's TH-42PWD6UY. The design of the 42EP14S is nothing to write home about, but its minimalist-styled chassis will blend well into most decors. The frame and the included stand are finished in bright silver. A row of buttons are hidden along the bottom, but the frame, aside from a couple of logos, is bare.

Haier includes a tabletop stand and offers an optional wall-mount bracket ($149), as well as an optional pair of speakers ($199). Without those speakers, you'll need to use an external audio source to get sound--the panel does not have built-in speakers.

The remote is smallish but fits well in the hand. We like the way the buttons are laid out, but they are all pretty small, and the menu system is awkward to navigate. For example, changing inputs calls up a menu that doesn't respond quickly enough, and in the middle of the cursor control is an Exit key (we would've expected Enter to be placed there).

Features are quite limited on the Haier 42EP14S. First, although it has no problem displaying 720p and 1080i HDTV pictures, its EDTV resolution of 852x480 pixels isn't high enough to convey every detail. In practice, HDTV sources will look only as detailed as DVD on this set, and computer sources are likewise limited to that resolution. Of course, you'll need an external HDTV tuner to watch high-def anyway; Haier does include a regular TV tuner.

Three selectable color-temperature settings give you the ability to choose the most pleasing color palette, although only one was viable to our eyes (see Performance for more). The aspect-ratio controls were a pleasant surprise: we counted six total, and all of them worked with standard and high-def sources. Picture zoom and freeze round out the notable features on this panel.

Connectivity is also limited. There's one DVI input, one component-video input, one S-Video input, one composite-video input, one VGA input for PC hookup, and a set of A/V outputs.

Another downside: the panel doesn't have independent memory per input, so you are stuck with one setup as far as picture controls are concerned. Also, the DVI input lacks any control over picture parameters such as contrast and brightness, which makes it next to useless as a video input for anybody with a discerning eye.

By today's standards, the Haier 42EP14S produced a below-average picture for home theater. We began by attempting to calibrate the panel using the user-menu grayscale control, which is somewhat limited, with only red, green, and blue drive controls available. As a result, we couldn't get the bottom end of the scale dialed in, and when we were done, everything just above black was extremely green (see the geek box). We ended up simply using the Standard color temperature preset since it lacked the greenish hue that the other settings exhibited.

The black-level performance of the 42EP14S was not impressive, and the panel introduced significant false contouring and dancing motes of video noise in dark material.

On the positive side, color decoding was quite good, especially for a budget-priced panel such as this. We were able to turn up the color control and fully saturate the image without losing accuracy in areas such as skin tones.

After calibrating the panel, we watched some scenes from Alien in the standard color temperature, and the darkness of space did appear a bit too blue. Artifacts were also distracting in these dark scenes. Chapter 12 of Seabiscuit looked good with excellent color saturation and fine detail, which tells us the 42EP14S handles bright material much better than dark scenes.

HD material from our DirecTV HD satellite feed looked mostly good, though naturally not as detailed as it would on a higher-resolution panel. A rather dark concert video of Boz Scaggs looked surprisingly good; still, some artifacts were visible.

Before color temp (20/80)7,150/6,600 KAverage
After color temp (20/80)7,450/6,500 KPoor
Before grayscale variation+/- 369 KGood
After grayscale variation+/- 222 KAverage
Overscan2.5%Good
Color decoder error: red+5%Good
Color decoder error: green0%Good
DC restorationAll patterns stableGood
2:3 pull-down, 24fpsYGood
Defeatable edge enhancementNPoor

4.6

Haier 42EP14S

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 5Performance 4
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