If there's one company that should know its way round a plasma TV by now, it's Fujitsu -- the first commercially launched plasma TV in the UK, way back in 1997, was Fujitsu's PDS4201E-H, which was yours for a mere £11,500. Yet Fujitsu has consistently proved strangely reluctant to throw itself wholeheartedly into the UK's 'domestic' plasma market, tending to favour screens targeted at business users over proper tuner-bearing TVs targeted at home users.
Cue the new P42HTA51, a new Fujitsu 42-inch plasma that's arguably the brand's most home-focussed model yet. It comes complete with a built-in TV tuner and actual European Scart sockets -- wonders will never cease.
Even better, at under £2,000 this new set carries the sort of price tag a domestic rather than corporate consumer might be expected to swallow. So all that remains now is for the P42HTA51 to deliver a fine home cinema performance, and Fujitsu might finally have the ammunition it needs to get more living room action.
Although it's not a radical departure from the designs of Fujitsu's more businessy models, the slenderness of the P42HTA51ES's silver bezel, the gentle rounding of its edges and the subtle sheen of its finish help it cut a stylish but subtle dash in your living room.
It's worth noting, too, that although speakers for the screen are included in the price (by no means a given with Fujitsu generally), they are detachable, giving you the flexibility of either attaching them to the screen, fixing them to the wall away from the screen, or not using them at all if you've got a separate sound system. The TV also comes with a rather attractive desktop stand, useful if wall-mounting the screen is not on your agenda.
Fujitsu's home focus for this screen really becomes apparent when looking at its connections -- our eyes are immediately drawn to both a standard tuner input and a pair of Scarts. At the same time, though, it becomes clear that this Fujitsu doesn't carry those normal TV stalwarts of 4-pin S-Video or phono composite video inputs. Plus we have to say that two Scarts seems a bit stingy for a TV today, but at least both Scarts can handle premium-quality RGB signals.
Other key connections include an HDMI jack for digital high-definition duties, component video inputs for analogue HD and progressive scan feeds, and a PC socket for anyone who wants either to write king-sized Word documents or, more likely, play Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on a whole new scale.
The bad news is that the P42HTA51 doesn't have a built-in digital tuner -- only an analogue one. Perhaps the apparent complexities of the digital route were too heavy for Fujitsu, given its relative lack of experience with the UK's home TV market. Either that or it would have pushed the TV's cost too high.
The TV is, though, fully HD Ready according to the AV industry's definition -- its HDMI and component jacks are joined by a sufficiently high native resolution of 1024x1024i, and its compatibility with the key 720p and 1080i HD formats.