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Our 42" TV died couple of months ago, sadly out of warranty. We spoke to Curry's and I was told it would be £100 to look at but repairs could easily be more. Next I talked to a friend who is pretty good with electronics and he explained the part that would be causing the problem. I won't bore you with all the details, but we were looking at a repair bill of £100 - £300 depending on how many parts were blown, but if we got away with a £100 repair, there was a good chance it would go again. With the cost of TV's now, it didn't seem worthwhile to put so much into a 4 year old set. I had a look on Amazon as was able to pick this up for £266 without the original packaging. I so love Amazon Warehouse Deals. They currently have another at £278.38 with a damaged box, but the TV completely undamaged - or you can get one with a nicer cardboard box for £309.
The biggest issue for me was the fact that this is a plasma screen. We've never owned a plasma screen but plasma got quite bad reputation when it first came out due to the limited lifespan of the gas used to produce the picture. Many of the early models cost £1,000s and only lasted a few years. The process has been greatly refined over the years though and a plasma TV now has the same lifespan as an LCD TV, and both will last longer than the picture tube in the average CRT TV - although I don't believe they even make CRT anymore. I can't find the lifespan for this particular product but before buying I read that the newer plasma TV's had a lifespan of about 100,000 hours. Even at the lowest end of the scale a plasma TV should last at least 60,000 hours. At a whopping 10 hours per day this would give me 16 years before the plasma gasses lose their half life. Of course something else will most likely break first. TV manufacturers don't really want you to keep using the same set for 16 years anymore. So with my mind reassured about the lifespan issues, we set about other comparisons.
The first issue was price. Plasma has traditionally cost far more than LCD. This is not necessarily true anymore. Even at full price, this set is significantly less than the average 42 or 43" TV - and to be honest the extra inch does not make a noticeable difference. Even my husband has agreed that he can not see any difference in size between this and our old 42".
The next issue was picture quality, and this is where the Plasma does make some difference. My husband had always wanted a plasma TV and he absolutely loves this. I'm not one to notice such things, but even I can see a difference, but we did have to adjust the TV at first. When first set up the TV was too bright, the contrast to extreme - it was somehow brighter and sharper than real life. My husband thought it was brilliant at first but we quickly decided it was a bit head ache inducing and toned things down a bit. This does have an auto adjust feature which is meant to automatically adjust to level of light in the room, but I still think you need to set for your own preferences first. This TV is not full HD. It is HD ready instead, which I understand is not quite as good. My 36" TV in the bedroom is full HD. ( I have a very nice TV in my bedroom as well as our main TV for those times when I can't do much due to illness - so I can watch films with the children). I have never really noticed a difference with HD channel as opposed to non HD downstairs, but my old TV might have only been HD ready as well. I did notice a difference in quality between by 36" 3D TV and the old TV. But whether it is full HD or not, I do believe this TV's picture quality is as good as that on my 32" and it is certainly an improvement over our old 42". My husband is delighted with this for his PS3 games, and I am very happy with it for films. The whole family gives this 5 stars for picture quality.
Next of course is energy consumption as wide screen TV's can be power hogs. This has an energy rating of B which wasn't reassuring. However upon closer examination the energy usage of 63 watts was as good or better than the other TV's and certainly better than the one replaced. Manufacturers are always bringing the electric consumption down so it pays to very carefully compare before buying any TV.
We have this television on a TV cabinet. It comes with a black plastic stand. If you wish to use this mounted on a wall though you will need to buy a separate kit for this. This is very thin ( 5.6 centimetres) and quite light for such a large TV which I think would be an advantage for a wall mounted television.
This television does have freeview, but I believe all new TV's do. As this is our main TV, and we do have Virgin Media, we have never attempted to use freeview so I can not comment on this. It also has ConnectShare Movie. This is meant to make watching downloaded films easier. You just plug in your USB stick or hard drive and watch. Unfortunately, I have never downloaded a film, so this function has not been tried. This is not a smart TV and can not play apps, go online etc.. without a separate device.
The sound on this TV is decent. It is not cinema quality, but we find it clear and easy to listen to. We do use this primarily for films and games as opposed to music, but even music sounds pretty good to me. We do not however use this at extremely high volumes. I do feel that the best sound is always going to come from external speakers though, and this does not have an earphone jack which would be the easiest way to add speakers. I believe you may be able to do this through the AV connection but I am not certain.
The one area I feel this TV falls short is connections. As mentioned there is no earphone slot. There is a USB connection and a single AV connection, but there are only 2 HDMI connections and two HDMI connections. We have a PS3 and Virgin media box connected to this, but if I want to bring my son's Wii down for a few days, I have to disconnect the PS3. I could buy a splitter to add more connections but than means more wires laying about, and most modern TV's have 4 hdmi or scart connections.
Another issue for concern with this TV is the fact that, like all plasma screens, this has a glass screen as opposed to plastic with LCD. I feel this is more likely to break and this did weigh against this TV when selecting a television. The fact that this was so much cheaper than the rest and my children are a bit older now won out, but if I had a two year old in the house, I think this would have been a deal breaker. I also feel that glass could reflect sunlight more than a plastic screen. Our has a 30' brick wall behind it and large buildings. We don't get much sunshine in at all, so it wasn't an issue for me, but it would be if we lived in a home where the suns rays would easily hit the screen.
I'm not much fussed by remotes as long as they work, and this one does work. It is small which I like, and responsive as well. But it is not intuitive and funny enough my husband couldn't figure some aspects out. On the plus side after pulling my hair out for 30 minutes without his knowledge while he was gone, I did manage to figure the B***** thing out, and was able to walk up to him and show him how it was done making him look like a monkey :) I won't rate down though as we likely would have had no problem if we had read the instructions carefully.
This is not the best TV you can buy by any stretch of the imagination. This is a budget choice for those who want a large screen TV but don't have a lot of cash at the moment. I'd have rather had one with 3D, Smart TV technology, full HD, an energy rating of A and a lot more connections. But for £266 this was a real steal and even at £309 I feel this is worth 5 stars. My whole family is delighted with it, and I really couldn't ask for much more. I won't rate down for lack of features as I do feel this is a trade off for the lower price. The cheapest TV I can find with full HD would cost £345 and I do feel the picture on this is a s good as the one on my full HD TV upstairs. As for 3D and Smart TV, that would be adding a lot more to the price. I would prefer a 4.5 star rating, but I won't knock this all the way back to 4 stars. For us, it is very nearly perfect, but for someone who wants full HD, 3D or better connectivity - this night not be the best choice, and if you have money to spend, there is quite a lot on the market to choose from. I wanted something under £300 and that severely limited our choices.