Although we’ve now explained away the majority of what initially appeared like strange limitations, the PD370 does have a rather surprising one left that’s harder to justify: its provision of just two HDMIs. What’s more, these HDMIs are only built to the now outmoded v1.2 specification, making this premium screen incompatible with the picture-boosting (though admittedly still rare) Deep Color and xvYCC video formats. Boo.
We guess if Planar really wanted to push its custom installation angle hard it could argue that the HDMI shortage is easily addressed in a full AV install by using a separate dedicated HDMI switchbox, or an AV receiver with HDMI switching. But there’s no getting round the v1.2 shortcoming.
In terms of internal specification, as we’d expect of a premium 37in LCD TV, the PD370 is a full HD affair with a native contrast ratio of 1200:1. If you’re thinking that this contrast ratio figure looks a bit impoverished versus the likes of 8000:1 and 10,000:1 quoted by some LCD rivals, remember that I said the Planar’s contrast ratio was actually a native figure, rather than one dependent on a dynamic backlight system to dim the screen’s brightness during dark scenes.
Potentially the most important element of the PD370’s specification, though, is the image processing it employs. For starters, the LCD panel is ‘controlled’ by a premium Genesis Cortez driver chip, with video boosted by an elaborate array of image processing systems from Faroudja. These systems include Directional Correlation De-Interlacing (DCDi) with 10-bit video processing for eliminating jagged edges along diagonal lines; Intellicomb 3D adaptive comb filtering to minimise upscaling artefacts when converting standard definition to the screen’s full HD resolution; and TrueLife processing to improve small detailing, edge definition and colour subtlety.
Within the (stupidly small, as it happens!) onscreen menus you can also find adjustable overscan, and optional MPEG and ‘standard’ noise reduction routines.
But actually, I’d suggest you treat these optional noise reductions with extreme care. Which is really a fancy way of saying that I personally would leave them turned off. For instance, when I first turned the PD370 on, I was dismayed to find the picture all but ruined by some pretty horrendous amounts of smearing and image lag. And so as Will Smith does that classic dumb movie trick of following his dog in to a dark building even though he knows a bunch of mutants are in there during the Blu-ray of ”I Am Legend”, the close ups of his torch-lit face look so blurred you feel like you’re watching them through a layer of treacle.
Realising from previous experiences with Planar LCD screens that things really shouldn’t look like this, I started experimenting with the different picture options available, and found that knocking the MPEG noise reduction system down to zero from its initial ‘50′ level solved the blurring problem almost completely. At which point I could finally start to appreciate all the picture’s really quite outstanding good qualities.