Hardware Spotlight ? BenQ
BenQ PDP46W1 Plasma Display
By Ron Goldberg
BenQ isn't a household name in home video, but most readers will be familiar with its parent company Acer, which has spawned BenQ as its standalone brand for consumer and professional products. Coming from a background of LCD, CRT and projection technology for the PC and commercial worlds, BenQ has introduced its first plasma display, the PDP46W1, to the U.S. market.
The PDP46W1 is a 46-inch, 16x9 model with a native resolution of 852x480 (Wide VGA), which supports up to XGA (1,024x768). It accepts and scales signals from 480p, 720p and 1,080i digital sources through RGB, BNC, component, S-Video or composite inputs. An internal NTSC tuner is offered as a $200 option, and the unit is controllable through RS-232. BenQ's background in the commercial display business is evidenced by the attention to internal audio which includes Wow and True Bass circuitry from SRS Labs, and which can send 10 watts to a pair of external speakers.
The panel features 3:2 pulldown recovery for movies, and a claimed brightness rating of 700-cd per square meter, along with an 850:1 contrast ratio. In addition to a 3-D comb filter, BenQ has added a few proprietary technologies to enhance the pictures, one of which is called Dynamic White Balancing Correction. According to the company, this does away with the greenish tinge found in some PDP images while providing 10 percent more color. There's also a technique called Low Gray Level Correction, which BenQ says eliminates the rippling effect commonly found in PDP images. The unit is relatively light for a 46-inch displa, at 78 pounds, and is 4.2 inches thick, with a charcoal gray framing.
In practice, the PDP46W1 is easy enough to live with. The scaling options are generous in comparison to other panels in its price range, with settings for Full (native ratio), Anamorphic, Fill Aspect Radio, Letterbox to 16:9, 4:3 to 16:9 and Letterbox with subtitles to 16:9 — actually a cool setting that came in handy during a screening of The Godfather Part II, which features several lengthy passages in Italian with English subtitles. The menu system is relatively clear from a visual standpoint, though somewhat counterintuitive on the remote control, which positions the Exit button in a place where most users would expect an Enter function.