The very first plasma TV I ever saw was a Fujitsu. Back in 1997 while I was still working at PC Pro magazine, I found myself huddled in a meeting room with some guys from the now dead Home Entertainment mag, while the techs from Fujitsu unpacked a then massive 42in plasma. Of course back then the resolution was nowhere near high definition and the lifetime was laughable by today’s plasma standards, but it didn’t stop me and everyone else in the room trying to figure out where they could get almost £12,000 to buy one.
Despite the gargantuan price tag, Fujitsu assured me that it had already taken many orders for the screen, highlighting one particular customer who had ordered one for his house and another for his yacht! It’s therefore somewhat strange that even though Fujitsu pioneered plasma technology, it’s not a name that jumps into most consumers’ heads when they think of plasma TVs.
The reason that Fujitsu isn’t as prevalent in the consumer space is because the company concentrated heavily on the public information sector. If you think back to the late nineties, you’ll remember that most big train stations and airports switched their information boards to 42in plasmas, most of which were supplied by Fujitsu. So, although there was nothing stopping a consumer from putting a Fujitsu screen in their living room, it wasn’t as obvious a choice as say a Panasonic or Pioneer. And even if you did consider a Fujitsu, the screens just never looked as living room friendly as the competition.
Fujitsu is obviously aware that it has been missing out on a big market, and is attempting to address the above issues with its new 58 series, which ships in 42in and 50in varieties – it’s the 42in version that I’m reviewing today. The first thing that’s plainly obvious when you unbox the P42XHA58 is how good it looks – there’s no way that you could mistake this screen for a public information display! The entire bezel surrounding the screen is finished in glossy black, or piano black if you like. Coupled with the glossy black pedestal stand, the effect is stunning – this is undoubtedly one of the best looking TVs that I’ve ever seen!
So, Fujitsu has shaken off its non-consumer focussed image when it comes to design, but it hasn’t quite gone the whole hog because this isn’t, in the true sense of the word, a TV. You see the P42XHA58 doesn’t actually have a tuner. Whereas some TVs may be lacking a digital tuner, this one has neither a digital or analogue tuner. This situation is compounded by the fact that this Fujitsu also lacks any built-in speakers! All this makes it clear that Fujitsu expects its screens to be used as part of a serious home cinema installation, rather than a stand alone TV, and if you’re in the market for such a set up, the P42XHA58 has a lot going for it.