Up until now, most plasma televisions have been sold as a stand-alone screen, often lacking a tuner, speakers and even a tabletop stand. Obviously, these components must be purchased and assembled separately, which aside from bringing 'hidden' costs makes installation unnecessarily painful, not to mention intimidating. The LG DT-42PY10X is being touted as the "world's first integrated HD plasma TV", and clearly rectifies the aforementioned issues. The unit arrives pre-assembled, with speakers and a tabletop stand already attached to the bezel, as well as a digital HD TV tuner concealed within. As a result, installation is as simple as removing the panel from the box and connecting an antenna and power cord - too easy!
Predictably, the LG DT-42PY10X is larger than other 106cm (42") plasmas currently on the market, measuring 1216x691x272mm and weighing a portly 39kg. This doesn't detract from its style though, as the integrated components give the unit a streamlined aesthetic. The confluence of a black screen border and silver speaker grills - all too popular these days - is also a winning formula.
Mounting options are numerous, as the integrated stand can easily be replaced with separate brackets for wall or ceiling mounting. It's also important to note that all cabling plugs into the rear of the unit in a vertical manner, which is essential for wall-mounting but slightly tedious if the tabletop stand is used.
The bundled remote is large and makes liberal use of abbreviations in its labels, which can be confusing upon first glance. Thankfully, the manual is well-written and diagrammatically explains each function. Further, the remote's large size stems from the fact that it's built to control your other electronics devices as well, such as a DVD player, VCR, cable receiver or sound system. A handy screen displays the device you're controlling at any moment.
The DT-42PY10X runs at a hearty resolution of 1024x768, and is capable of receiving 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i signals. The listed brightness and contrast levels of 1000cd/m2 and 5000:1 respectively also rate highly against competing models.
LG has chosen to forego HDMI support, which has been thus far slow to take off in Australia, despite being decidedly superior in terms of sound and picture quality. This is because a single HDMI cable is capable of carrying uncompressed HDTV and 8-channel audio signals without digital-to-analog conversion.
Thankfully, an abundance of other connectivity options are present: two component inputs with audio connectors, two SPDIF inputs, one SPDIF output, DVI, D-Sub, an S-Video input and a set of AV inputs/outputs. A useful touch is the additional set of A/V inputs and S-Video connector located on the left-hand side of the bezel, facilitating effortless connectivity with external devices (e.g. a video camera).
For optimal image scaling, the panel boasts various picture formats, which can be adjusted on the fly using the remote's ARC button. These include Auto, 4:3, 16:9 (widescreen), 14:9, Zoom and Cinema Zoom. There's also Picture-in-Picture (PiP) support for watching up to four channels at a time, as well as a built-in Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) for free-to-air channels.
To our surprise, the EPG worked for all free-to-air channels, a feat that not even Foxtel can pull off (Foxtel's EPG is missing channels Seven and TEN). The guide on the DT-42PY10X displays the start and finishing times of both the current and next show, as well as a short blurb on each show's content. Since it only displays two programmes per channel, the EPG won't replace your paper TV guide any time soon. It's also limited in functionality, as you're unable to schedule reminders for important shows. That said, it's still an attractive bonus not seen on many competitor offerings.
We put the DT-42PY10X through a gauntlet of tests using multiple input sources, including a progressive scan DVD player and an Xbox with the HDAV upgrade. Contrast performance is superb, even at the lower end of the colour spectrum - a typical problem area for plasma TVs. Differences between shades are easily discernible, which is particularly noticeable in movies such as The Matrix since it includes such a diverse colour palette. Overall colour is vivid and full, while skin tones are natural as well.
Despite LG's claimed brightness levels, we found the screen to err on the dark side in many situations, which takes the life out of certain scenes. Thankfully, this is mostly fixed with some tweaking, or by flicking through the various picture modes. Yet not so easily rectified is the slight signal noise, which is more noticeable the closer you sit to the panel.
At 15 watts each, the integrated speakers certainly aren't anything to write home about, with a drowned out mid-range and muffled bass effects. The 'SRS Trusurround' support helps to create a pseudo-3D soundstage, but if you're going to be spending AU$5000 on a TV, a dedicated speaker system is virtually essential.