Hardware Spotlight -- Runco
Runco PL-50HDX Plasma TV
By Ron Goldberg
Runco's products are positioned as best-of-breed, and there's no shortage of C-tailers, integrators and consumers that will be happy to tell you why. The company's 50-inch PL-50HDX aspires to establish a Runco-style benchmark for the increasingly crowded plasma market. From a qualitative standpoint, there's no doubting that the company has accomplished what it set out to do.
The PL-50HDX is a 50-inch, 16:9 PDP mated with Runco's outboard Vivix PFP processor/controller. The panel itself features a native resolution of 1,280x768, with a contrast ratio that Runco rates at 1,000:1. The PFP controller acts as the main I/O station, with inputs for both digital and analog component video sources. The standard Y-Pr-Pb trio of RCA jacks are analog connections, meaning that they will not pass the signals from a progressive scan DVD player or an HDTV set-top box. For those signals, there is a multi-pin "pass-through" connection which bypasses the processing of the PFP controller and sends the signals straight on to the display unit.
If you need more than one progressive input, a video switcher or matrix is recommended for the installation. According to Runco, the quality produced by the de-interlacer in the PFP controller is superior to the quality of the de-interlacer of most progressive DVD players, so if there's only one progressive input, it's worth it to direct-connect to the controller. The PFP also has one connection point each for S-Video and composite video, and an RS-232 input. The outputs to the monitor are BNC connections for RBGHV, as well as RS-232 out.
The PFP controller is a bit smaller than an average A/V receiver in the rack. It features a pleasant blue fluorescent display that indicates input selection and chosen aspect ratio. The aspect ratios available include anamorphic, standard 4x3, letterbox, 16x9 and the company's "Virtual Wide" setting, which fills the entire screen from a 4x3 source by a scaling process that gradually moves from screen center to edges.