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Samsung HP-S4253

>> Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The HP-S4253 plasma boasts a glossy black exterior and hidden speakers, and its feature set is anchored by excellent connectivity. Its image quality doesn't measure up to that of the best plasmas, however, and it costs a bit too much to compete against the most aggressively priced bargain models. Samsung has apparently made a conscious decision to make its LCDs look more attractive than its plasmas.

Flat panel LCD models such as the Samsung LN-S4051D, visible in hyperbole filled advertisements everywhere, have a friendly yet stylish, rounded off appearance, an oval base, and a wide V shape along the bottom. The HP-S4253 plasma, on the other hand, is the standard sharp cornered rectangle atop a non swiveling stand.

It shares its swankier brand mate's glossy black finish and concealed speakers, which are stashed inside the angled opening along the bottom of the cabinet. This plasma's relatively thick frame contributes to bigger dimensions compared to many plasmas the HP-S4253 measures 41.5 by 30 by 13.5 inches and weighs 88 pounds including the stand, while the panel itself is 3.8 inches deep.

The company revamped its remote, improving the new model with a smarter button layout, better differentiation between the keys, and a longer, easier to hold shape.

Although it still lacks back lighting, we appreciate its ability to control four other devices. Samsung's internal menu system looks the same as ever.

We found it intuitive to navigate and appreciated the ability to choose and rename inputs from the menu, as well as the helpful information explaining various menu items.

Like most 42 inch high resolution plasmas, the Samsung HP-S4253 has a native resolution of 1,024x768 pixels.

While that's not quite enough resolution to display every pixel of HDTV sources, no other like size plasma can make that claim either. All sources, including HDTV, DVD, standard TV, and computers, are scaled to fit the pixels.

The Samsung HP-S4253 has all the conveniences we expected, including an ATSC tuner to receive over the air digital and HDTV stations, although it lacks CableCard no big loss in our book. There's a picture in picture option with side by side and inset views an average selection of aspect ratio controls (four for standard definition and two for HD sources) and a freeze feature to capture on screen phone numbers, for example.

We also appreciate the solid selection of picture affecting features, although we would have preferred the Samsung HP-S4253 to have true independent input memories. However, there are four adjustable picture modes Dynamic, Movie, Standard, and Custom. Since the set reverts to the last selected picture mode when you switch inputs, it's possible to set up four of the TV's inputs separately for different sources.

Samsung includes a separate game mode, which increases color saturation, edge enhancement, and overall brightness for a more vibrant, less realistic look that some gamers might prefer. Fortunately, Samsung's DNIe processing, which introduces more edge enhancement, is defeat able (in Movie mode, you can't even turn it on), whereas with the LN-S4051D, you can't turn it off.

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