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However, before you get too carried away by this apparent domestic touch, you should know that the screen doesn’t ship with either a stand, or any speakers – be they built in, or external ones. If you want NEC’s own speakers, tuner and stand for the TV, the price leaps from a reasonable £1800 to a really quite off-putting £2600. Hmm.
As we start exploring the 42XR4 for features, we can’t help but notice that it continues to raise doubts about its credentials as a home cinema machine by using neither the sort of remote control nor onscreen menus that you’d expect to find with a normal TV. The remote’s button layout feels extremely unfamiliar, while the onscreen menus are long-winded and prone to the sort of techie jargon likely to scare a technophobe to death.
Luckily we’re anything but technophobes, though, so we gamely dived into everything the 42XR4 has to offer – and actually came up with more than expected. Particularly surprising is the amount of apparently video-friendly processing going on in the background.
For starters there’s a Crystal Clear Driving for reducing false contours and boosting brightness levels. Then there’s something called Advanced Intra Field Noise reduction, to address the noise that can occur between frames of motion.
Accompanying this is a ‘bonded colour filter’ construction technique that lets you watch the screen from the side without suffering the usual ‘ghost’ image witnessed during off-axis viewing with most standard plasmas.
Next we come to a capsulated colour filter system for improving colour saturations and white balance, and finally so far as background stuff is concerned, the NEC continually orbits the picture slowly around – imperceptibly slowly – to avoid plasma’s problems with screen burn.
In terms of features you that can actually play with yourself, the ones of most interest to us include gamma adjustments for improving the brightness/contrast balance, picture in picture options capable of showing two HD sources simultaneously, and, promisingly, two ‘Theatre’ picture preset options, suggesting that maybe the screen does care about movies after all.