Rather less open to ‘interpretation’ is the 42PG6900’s rather low resolution. Most 42in TVs these days have a Full HD pixel count, but the 42PG6900’s screen is built from only 1024×768 pixels – enough to earn it an HD Ready badge, but not enough to enable it to render the UK’s 1920×1080 HD sources without having to rescale them downwards.
Here again, though, the 42PG6900 perhaps has an excuse – or two! – for its relatively low resolution. For starters, it is of course quite difficult to cram 1920×1080 plasma cells into a 42in plasma screen. But even more relevantly, you can argue that the 42PG6900’s Freeview+ functionality makes it more oriented towards standard than high definition content. And we’ve commonly found that HD Ready TVs do a better job of upscaling standard definition sources than Full HD ones.
Another specification of interest is the 42PG6900’s 160GB built-in hard disk drive. This is the same size as that found in the LT75 sets, when perhaps we might have hoped for a small increase. But when you consider that 160GB is still enough to store around 50-60 hours of Freeview recordings, again you’ll probably agree that it’s actually enough.
Now we’ve started talking about the 42PG6900’s recordings, it’s worth touching on what makes the set a ‘Freeview+’ machine rather than just a TV with built-in hard disk recording. As we noted in our recent review of the JVC LT-32DE9, there are seven key features a recorder must carry, which go like this:
- At least an 8-day Electronic Programme Guide.
- Series Link support allowing one timer to record an entire series.
- The facility to record split programmes such as movies interrupted by a news broadcast as if they were one programme.
- The ability to offer to record related programmes.
- The ability to spot and record an alternative showing of a broadcast if there is a time conflict.
- The ability to update schedule changes even while a TV is in standby.
- ‘Accurate recording’, whereby programmes are recorded based on data from a broadcaster rather than simple time settings.
The 42PG6900 offers all of these things along with another little trick we strongly approve of: totally digital Freeview recordings. By which I mean that when recording Freeview channels, the TV just records the direct digital broadcast channel stream, so there should be no loss of picture quality between recordings and original broadcasts.
The 42PG6900 also lets you record analogue broadcasts (or analogue external inputs with no copy protection) if you wish, and in this case you can actually choose between two recording qualities: High, which again will hopefully show very little degradation, and Normal, which will use up less HDD space but will result in recorded pictures that will presumably look quite a bit worse than the original broadcasts.