Dell W4200HD Plasma TV FAQ and Summary

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Vince Maskeeper, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

    Jan 18, 1999
    Likes Received:
    This document represents a summary of the factual information from the 1200+ posts in the "Dell W4200HD? Any hands on?" post on the AVS forum. I don't know if this thread should become a "sticky" but hopefully it will offer the core of the information offered in that thread in an easily understood form.


    What is the appeal of these versus other PDPs?

    Well, primarily the Dell W4200HD was one of the first 42 inch HD resolution plasma panels available at $3499 retail price that went to $2999 when offered with a promotional Dell discount (with additional x-mas promotions like the $550 off a plasma tv coupon code from the DEllF game, the prices fell to around $2400). Dell Kiosks were offering additional discounts ($100 off), so the price went from good to unbelievable at about $2300, shipping included!

    Now that some other budget HD panels have emerged (Vizio and ByD) and Dell's pricing blow-outs have ended, the Dell is still one of the only Plasma HD display available at this price point marketed by a "major company". While the full retail price makes it less of a "must buy," Dell is notorius for offering discounts, rebates, coupon codes and temporary specials which will likely plunge this set back into "too tempting to pass up" range again in the future.

    In addition, the Dell has a built in ATSC HD tuner along with its NTSC tuner (not available on nearly any other low-end model)-- and it also has HDMI which few other PDPs are offering at this time (especially not at a budget price point).

    For a consumer-friendly price you get a 42" HD set with HDMI, DVI/HDCP input, speakers, stand, integrated HD tuner, free shipping and onsight replacement service.

    What are the specs?

    From Dell's Website:
    Resolution: 1024x768 @ 60 Hz (16:9 aspect)
    Video Compatibility: 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i
    Brightness: 420 cd/m2
    Contrast: 2300:1
    Horizontal Viewing Angle: +/- 80 degrees (160 degrees total)
    Vertical Viewing Angle: +/- 80 degrees (160 degrees total)
    Display Weight: 75 lbs (Without Stand), 92.6 lbs (With Stand), 98.9 lbs (With Stand Plus Speakers)
    Viewable Area: 36.7 x 21.0 (42.28 inches diagonal)

    Ships with Stand, Remote (with batteries), Detatchable Speakers with Wires and Stands (boxed seperately), Power Cord, DVI cable, VGA cable and a coax cable.

    How big is the box it ships in?

    Approximately 46 inches wide x 36 inches high and just under 18 inches deep. It weighs just shy of 100 pounds, so make sure to confirm the delivery company is sending two people to move it!

    How about the inputs and outputs?

    From Dell's site:
    Inputs (Back): Composite (2); S-Video (2); Component (2); TV In/Coax(1); Audio (RCA L+R) (7); DVI-HDCP (1, shared with PC); HDMI (1).
    Inputs (Side): Composite (1); S-Video (1) ; Audio (RCA L+R) (1)
    Outputs: Composite (1); Audio, user-selectable fixed or variable (RCA L+R) (1); subwoofer (1)

    Although the site claims 1 coax input, it seems there are two: one NTSC and one ATSC (Dell says it's an ATSC/NTSC tuner input but I have yet to have confirmation).

    Of note, the digital audio OUTPUT only passes digital audio from the ATSC tuner . It seems to pass audio from the tuner no matter what display input is selected. In other words, once the "Digital TV" input is selected and a channel is selected, it always plays this audio from the digital outputs, even after you navigate away to a different input (dvd for example). It is currently unknown if the digital output allows a "pass through" of digital audio when using HDMI.

    Does it have picture-in-picture modes?

    Dell lists : Picture-In-Picture (PIP), Picture-Outside-Picture (POP), Picture-By-Picture (PBP) - PC Graphic on Video, Video on PC Graphic, Video on Video.

    PIP is standard pic-in-pic. The PBP (pic-by-pic) is a split screen. The POP (pic-outside-pic) allows you to select from three different POP options: (POP) One large picture to the left and a smaller, centered window to the right... or (POP3) one large picture to the left and three smaller windows on the right... or (POP12) one large centered picture surrounded by twelve smaller windows.

    With Pop 12, only the NTSC TV tuner is used as a source. It then spends about 2 seconds per channel and freezes the image and then moves on to the next channel, 2 seconds, freezes etc., until 12 chanels are arrayed around the outside of the screen with the main source in the middle running continuously. Then it moves around the rectangle, 2 seconds per image. It is not 12 live feeds.

    Does the tuner do QAM?

    Qam is quadrature amplitude modulation-- the modulation scheme that many cable carriers are using for HD over cable. Unfortunately the Dell tuner doesnt do QAM, just ATSC.

    But to be clear: getting HD signal from cable or satellite using a Set Top Tuner is no problem (the Box does the tuning and decoding and the output from the cable/sat box simply goes to the Dell display). A QAM tuner allows you to plug the cable directly into the TV, and use the TV's tuner to change channels. The Dell does not feature an onboard QAM tuner, so you can only use the Dell's tuners to receiver over-the-air NTSC and ATSC signals. More info on these systems can be found here.

    Is the unit cable card compatible?

    A cable card is a tuner interface available for some plasma sets allowing you to use the TV''s internal tuner instead of a set-top-box, even to received premium and digital channels.

    The Dell is not compatible with a cable card, a set-top-box tuner would be necessary.

    What is the color resolution.

    Unconfirmed. A dell phone rep claimed it is 16.7 million colors, but the same rep also said the panel is 852x480 (which is not correct). The Pixelworks website says its DNX technology "display a rich spectrum of over one billion colors" however the actual color output would be limited by the plasma panel itself, not the processing engine.

    Who makes the glass?

    It was originally thought to be an LG panel based upon articles on the net (

    The manual instructs universal remote users to try PHILIPS codes for controlling the Dell, so at least the electronics are likely from Philips.

    At various times, Dell Support claimed the panel was manufactured by Panasonic, Sony, Planar, Philips, and Samsung.

    A sticker inside the unit reveals it is a Samsung PDP. "Samsung PDP Module Model Number S42AX-XD02 - Made in Korea". It hasn't been confirmed to coincide with any commercial model currently sold by Samsung, and it doesn't seem to share any specifications with 42 inch 1024x768 Samsung models (HP-P4271 or HP-P4261). The only place the number S42AX-XD02 appears on the internet is on the Samsung parts website in association with a part model #BN96-00267A (See it here, but it is unclear if this is an alternate part number or an associated item.

    An article from March 2004, it was revealed that Michael Dell visited Korean Samsung SDI factory where they make Plasma glass. A more recent article stated Samsung was increasing its plasma glass output to produce 130,000 units monthly-- which could be, theoretically, to meet Dell demands.

    In January a Dell Plasma rep joined the avs forum and confirmed the glass is made by Samsung: "The glass is Samsung (which comes in giant sheets that we cut into 3 screens per sheet)"

    Who makes the image processing and electronics?

    The image processing circuits are provided by Pixelworks. The chip is a PW3200B-10, the chip is not listed on their site but might be a BETA (thus the B) processor for their newest 3300. It seems to do 3:2 pull-down (confirmed from testing in a review on Cnet). More details likely to follow.

    In addition the circuit board features a NEC VR5432 167MHZ 64bit processor, and a Coretronic tuner (Coretronic even uses a picture of the Dell W4200HD on their site). It seems a company called Interlink is responsible for the interface and remote control.

    As mentioned above, the owners manual suggests using PHILIPS codes with universal remotes to control the dell.

    Again, a Dell Plasma rep joined the avs forum in January and confirmed the engine is Pixelworks: "[T]he chipset is Pixelworks, the remaining electronics come from a variety of manufacturers (based on product quality and availability, the bids tend to be very close so those factors matter more to us than price), and the plastics come from the same factory that makes the rest of the Dell base plastics for the rest of our company. The whole thing is manufactured by us at our facility in Round Rock, TX, freighted to our Nashville facility for distribution, and out they go."

    I hear there are problems with the zoom function?

    Not so much an error, but something that has been omitted that should have been included:

    Many widescreen sets offer a zoom mode for non-anamorphic letterbox video signals: this zoom takes a 4:3 signal which has letterboxing bars top and bottom as part of the video signal and creates an equal zoom in both dimensions. This type of zoom simply crops away unused space on the top and sides: resulting in an uncropped picture and proper aspect ratio, filling the screen on a 16:9 set for non-anamorphic letterboxed material.

    The Dell set DOES NOT feature this type of zoom.

    The Zoom mode on the Dell W4200HD is applied to the "standard" display mode. It basically takes an image that is already filling the set left to right and top to bottom (which could be a properly displayed anamorphic image or a stretched 4:3 image), and zooms it in both dimensions: cropping the sides and the top.

    The "purpose" of this zoom appears to be: zooming anamorphic 2.35:1 DVDs to remove the slight black bars at the top and bottom, and while it would maintain the shape of the image- it would crop the sides and result in loss of picture of about 2-3 inches from each side.

    Of note, as you'll see below, there are 2 display modes ("Standard" and "Full Screen") which seem to do the same thing... it is hoped that future access to a service menu will allow up to modify one of these modes to become an non-anamorphic letterbox zoom.

    What other display modes does the set have?

    It's important to be familir with aspect ratios and display functions of TVs. If you are not up to speed with this, please read this.

    Under the SIZE menu you have the following options:

    STANDARD: According to the manual: "Best Selection for viewing digital HDTV, 16:9 or 22:9 DVD movies." This seems to be a standard "full" mode which takes incoming signal and formats it to fill the screen. This would be the proper mode for anamorphic DVD, HD signal and would stretch 4:3 material to fill the screen (but result in a "fat" looking image).

    ZOOM: According to the manual "Best selection for viewing TV, VCR or 4:3 DVD movie." This is outlined above, it expands the incoming signal to the full 16:9 panel and then zooms slightly both horizontally and vertically, cropping a bit of the image in both directions. This would be used to zoom 2.35:1 (sometimes called 22:9) anamorphic images to crop the bars at the top and bottom, while losing image on the sides.

    Of note, the zoom mode operates slightly differently when applied to signals coming from the internal ATSC tuner. When selecting ZOOM on ATSC material, it actually stretches the content left to right, clipping off the material only on the sides. This would allow you to stretch 4:3 material broadcast on HD channels with bars on the sides (which are part of the signal) to remove the side bars and fill the screen without cropping the top and bottom. Those of you receiving network HD feeds may have noticed the commercials are often 4:3 pictures, with bars on the left and right; using the zoom mode while using Dell's internal ATSC tuner would expand these images to full screen.

    All other inputs (aside from the Dell ATSC tuner) crop in both dimensions as outlined in the question above.

    4:3 ASPECT RATIO: According to the manual "Best selection for viewing TV, VCR, or 4:3 DVD movie." This is a standard 4:3 mode which displays an incoming image with formatting bars on the sides to maintain proper shape for 4:3 material. The Dell produces Black bars on each side to properly format the image and the color of these bars cannot be changed (?)

    WIDE: According to the manual "Best Selection for viewing digital HDTV, 16:9 or 22:9 DVD movies." The wide mode is a gradual stretch mode like those offerend in the majority of 16:9 sets. This mode does little to no stretching in the middle of the picture, and stretches more toward the edges. While the manual says it is the best selection for HDTV and DVD, it is actually only really appropriate for 4:3 material and would NOT be appropriate for anamorphic DVD or widescreen HD feeds.

    FULL SCREEN: According to the manual "Best Selection for viewing digital HDTV or 16:9 DVD movies." This seems to be another standard "full" mode which takes incoming signal and formats it to fill the screen. The difference between this mode and STANDARD mode is currently unknown.

    Does it allow different video settings for different inputs?

    Yes. And it has presets as well as user defined settings. Unit has following video presets for each input: Movie, Sports, MultiMedia, and Weak Signal. There is also a "Personal" option that allows you to set Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Color Temperature (natural [6500K], normal, blue [5700K], red [9300K]), Tint and Color Saturation for each input.

    Of note, the set also has some audio presets and some basic Bass and Treble controls.

    Does the set allow video adjustments when connecting via the VGA or DVI inputs?

    Unknown. I believe the VGA does not allow adjustment (other then RGB gains), but this is not confirmed. DVI/HDMI info has not yet been provided. The H and V adjustments (to move the picture) are disabled when using DVI.

    Is there a way to access the service menu?

    Not yet, although there have been several attempts to use known key combinations for Philips and Samsung TV service modes, but so far none has worked.

    Does the TV have discrete power on/off remote control codes?

    So far it only has a power toggle, not a discrete off. The boys over at remote central have been fooling around and have discovered a discrete power ON function (if you send this signal with the set is OFF, it will turn on. If it is already ON it will do nothing).

    Someone at Dell has supposedly confirmed there are discrete power and input ability as well as a "." function which would allow direct tuning to HD sub channels like 5.2-- but so far they ahve not been found.

    It is unknown if any Philips models have discrete codes we could try.

    Does the TV have a wall mount?

    Dell does offer a wall mount for this unit for around $200. There are several 3rd party universal mounts which seem like they will work with this unit (at least one user has used the Rhino Universal Tilt Wall, available for under $100 from

    I notice two screws on the rear of my unit. What are they for?

    There are two screws on the rear, along the top edge that are protruding about 1/8 inch. They DON'T screw all the way in so the protrusion is likely intentional. The theory is that they are used in the actual fabrication process. Many users have reported removing them before mounting the set with no ill effects.

    Does this panel work at higher elevation?

    No straight answer, but someone at Dell support claimed it was safe to 6562 feet (and then directed the customer to a website with specs from a Philips panel). We're waiting from a real official answer from Dell.

    What is up with the shipping times?

    When the special prices and discounts on this unit began, shipping time was approximately 2 weeks. However within a week or so (and after the Thanksgiving Holiday), the shipping times exploded to well over a month (i.e. If you order today, it won't ship for at least a month, maybe two). Since the first of the year, as the promo specials have ended and order numbers have stabilized, the shipping dates in newer orders have seemingly improved [a little]-- but my personal order placed just after Christmas is scheduled to ship in Mid- February! However I got a call from Dell in Mid-January and it looks like the unit will ship at least 2 weeks ahead of original schedule.

    Of note, of you're waiting on your set and checking the dell site: the Dell tracking site will often say "in transit to local carrier" even well after the set has been delivered. The tracking info on Dell's site, specifically in the case of oversized items like a Plasma that use a commercial delivery carrier, is not very reliable.

    Are the sets delivered by UPS?

    Nope, Dell uses a freight company to deliver these sets, Con-Way Logistics. The company contracted to actually deliver the set to your door may vary depending on where in the country you live. Delivery companies include: FSP Worldwide, Manna Logistics, Canadian Freightways.

    What should I know about opening the box?

    Fight your first instinct to start cutting the box away!

    The outer box is a shell open at the top and bottom. It connects with a bottom box "tray" which has foam inserts that support the TV on its stand. There's another "tray" at the top with foam inserts that provides stability and protection - its taped onto the outer shell - and it contains the small box for the remote, manual, power cord, HDMI cable. The bottom "tray" is attached to the shell with the four handholds.

    To open: Cut the tape on the top of the box, remove the top accessories box/cover. Then remove all four white handles, this is what is holding the box together. Once all four handles are removed, you can simply lift the top box off leaving the bottom tray and your new Dell Plasma. Refer to the instructions and photos on the top fo the box.

    The clock seems to be off by 6 hours.

    Mentioned by a couple posters, currently unresolved. It is possible that the time link is coming from the HD broadcast and is incorrect at the source. More info sure to follow.

    How do i read the signal strength meter?

    You can bring up a signal and s/n meter for each of your HD channels by pressing the INFO button on your remote. Reading these meteres, however, is open to some debate. It was originally thought that these meters were like ANY strength meters: the higher the number the better. However it has recently been theorized that a lower number might actually mean a stronger signal. There is some confusion on this, which we hope will be cleared up with more experimentation.

    Does the set allow direct input selection?

    There is no discrete code to navigate to a specific input. With the stock dell remote, the way to navigate the inputs involves bringing up the input menu using a button on the remote and selecting the input from a list. Since you can select from this menu by number, a macro can be setup using a universal remote to access these "directly."

    Are there production flaws or issues?

    While some of the problems seem a bit alarming if you read the thread from start to finish, the actual numbers put things into perspective. AVS member DoubleDoc Brown has been polling buyers on AVS and keeping track of the results. You can see the most recent results here:

    That said, here's some details on the problems some uses have experienced:

    Line problem.

    An alarming percentage of users on AVS have developed a series of "dead pixel" lines on theri W4200HD. There is a photograph of the phenomenon here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

    The line problem does not seem to be caused by a defect in the glass itself. There have been similar line problems on other PDP displays, including the Pannasonic 7UY. Panasonic techs said it is caused by one of the microchips that drives the display. It is likely something similar on the Dell since the lines tend to be colored rather than just a line of pixels being "dead". Because some users reported the problem only appeared as the set "warmed up," the theory goes that it might be related to heat damage.

    While certainly not a scientific sample, about half of the posters on AVS who received their set during a window in December (a window between 11/30/04 and 12/27/04) have now developed this problem . There have been no reports of the problem with anyone outside of that window as of yet. The good news, however, is Dell seems to be pretty good about replacing these sets within a week or so after contacting Dell support.

    Some AVS members have been compiling information to try to find a pattern among those with line problems (cold temperature, laying the unit down, wall mounting, cooling, etc)-- but so far no set pattern has emerged aside from the date.

    Most of the users who have received replacement sets have, so far, not had the dead line problem repeat on their new sets. The hope is that this was just a "bad batch" that shipped in December.

    Humming and buzzing.

    The majority of users have reported a quiet buzz or hum coming from the panel, which the sound from the speaker is able to overcome at a relatively low volume. Some users seem to find their buzz subjectively louder than other users but there has yet to be any SPL measurements posted.

    The buzz seems be be related to the powersupply and will vary in loudness and pitch with different source material (and probably different levels of white in the picture).

    Of note, at least one user who has received a flawed initial set and then received a replacement set found the buzz considerably louder on the replacement unit. So, it seems that there might be a different level of buzzing between different product runs.

    There have been at least a few users who have found the buzz so unacceptible that they have returned their unit.


    Like the majority of Plasma Display Panels, the Dell does give off a pretty significant amount of heat. There appear to be no fans for cooling the unit (?), however a DIY solution should be relatively easy. Some people have complained about "fan noise" and others have claimed there are no fans at all (the "fan noise" complaints could have been "buzz" mistaken as fan noise).

    Other Complaints:
    - Slow Power Up: users claim anywhere from 8 seconds to 20 seconds for the unit to display an image after power-on. It is unknown if it starts producing sound immediately or if this is also delayed for 8-20 seconds.
    - Remote: The remote has poor and slow response and doesn't work well unless directly on axis. I have yet to determine if a universal remote works better (meaning the problem is the remote itself) or if this problem continues with a universal (meaning the issue is with the receiver on the set). Also, of note, the remote only controls the dell and has no universal functions to control other devices.
    - When adjusting volume, the volume OSD stays up for 15 seconds unless you press enter.
    - There might be a problem with closed captioning, yet unconfirmed.
    - A few users have complained that their ATSC tuner loses it's memory every few hours. I'm not sure if this is an isolated issue or widespread and unnoticed due to the fact that few use the internal tuner as of yet.

    So what's the good news?


    - Good picture, especially with HD sources.
    - Fast internal tuner (speed when changing channels).
    - ATSC tuner gives a signal strength and S/N meter by pressing the INFO button.
    - Tuner allows FINE TUNING to improve each channel reception.
    - Included detatchable speakers actually sound pretty good.
    - User customized video settings can be save for each input.
    - On Screen Display can be customized to display the device name. Example: change the label from "input 1" to say "DVD."


    User comments

    "I saw a Dell W4200HD at the Dell kiosk at the King of Prussia mall (in PA) over the weekend. The picture quality looked pretty good, but the video feed was a short HD source loop of some Blue Angels and nature shots. Not a demanding test of the black levels or contrast, but all in all, I was impressed by the picture and the look of the set." - afiggatt, AVS Senior Member

    "Although I am no expert by any means I have to say the picture quality excellent. Football in HD is just plain awesome. That being said I have only had this set for a week and so far no issues. DVD thru a samsung hd941 is excellent as well. If any issues do arise I will be sure to let you all know." - bdsomers, AVS Member

    "She takes about 20 seconds to come on and there is a minor hum coming from it. You almost have to strain your ears to hear it if you are viewing distance away. The picture is absolutely beautiful. Absolutely Beautiful !!! Factory settings were quite right and I don't se myself tweaking her too much. Maybe a bit after I use the Avia disc in a few weeks. The DVD picture was clean and crisp from the Samsung DVD-HD941. Digital TV was better than I expected and even analog through my cable was very watchable." - bfjones666, AVS Member

    "The unit has been up and running for 7 days. To date I have not had any lines or dead pixels. The hum is only noticeable when the TV 1st powers up. With the volume set to 2 or above, the hum is gone. Testing for added heat: the Dell generates a bit more heat than the Sony CRT it replaced, with that heat coming from the upper left hand corner of the back of the unit. Picture quality is very good. My friend with the Samsung DLP and I went back and forth between his house and mine comparing sports, analog TV, digital TV, HDTV and DVDs. For all analog pictures, both units displayed washed out, slighly fuzzy pictures. Garbage In, no doubt. We both have digital cable hookups and those channels were very watchable at 4:3 aspect ratios although the Samsung better handles the 16:9 digital TV signal. HDTV was spectacular on both sets and I can't wait for more broadcasters to get with the program and give us more shows. DVD PQ was noticably better on the Dell. The blacks are quite black in most dark scenes whereas they are mostly dark grey on the Samsung. Motion artifacts are also much more noticable on the Samsung. We used fight scenes from "The Matrix" series and the attack on Pearl Harbor from the "Pearl Harbor" movie as input. The Samsung did not handle fast moving pictures as well as the Dell. Pixel artifacts were clearly visible on most dark fight scenes but non-existent on the Dell. For general viewing of DVD, we used snippets of "Dodgeball", "Love Actually" and "Two weeks notice" as inputs. The Dell was clearly the better of the two units for all of these movies and their variable movie conditions. For example, the country house setting in "Love Actually" looked like a picture postcard on the Dell while the color saturation and focus was not that good on the Samsung. You can only see the individual pixels on the Dell when you are within 10-12 inches of the set while you had to move 2 feet away from the Samsung for the effect to disappear. I found some of the PIP features to be very useful, suchas being able to "size" the secondary picture. I watched "Two weeks notice" with the wife last night while monitoring the ESPN game in a small box which I was able to size where it was just large enough for me to see the basic action and the score. Best of both worlds. After the game ended, shifted back to just DVD for a picture-perfect movie experience. The wife loved having a "movie theatre" in the living room. I did find that while I was watching a VCR tape from last month as a composite input, I was able to use the PBP (split screen) to follow the afternoon football games. Much to my surprise, the analog picture got so much better once the picture was "compressed" to fit into the half screen. Bottom line: I'm still in love with the Dell and the wife loves "movie night" on the Dell." - bfjones666, AVS Member

    "HD looks great, Monday Night Football definitely had a wow factor every minute I watched. Overall, very good HD display. Other HD programming looks fantastic as well in both 720p and 1080i. SD looks good, but not great. Better than I expected via S Video. Composite looks awful so I have continued to watch via S Video. Overall, I can manage with PQ. Have not watched DVDs yet, but I plan on watching Superbit version of Spider Man 2 this weekend. Overall, I am very pleased with the display. You cannot find an HD plasma for this competitive of a price (I paid $2600 with corporate discount). I would recommend it over any ED plasma out there." - bmwf1techie, AVS Member

    "Setup my W4200HD today, and it looks fantastic. No lines, no bad pixels, no bad nothing. The audio is perfect. I hear a faint hum, but only up close, not loud enough to notice from where I am sitting. I'll try to take some pics this weekend. I will try to use it as much as possible to see if any lines develop. The only downside to the whole thing was the fact that I live on the 3rd floor of an apartment building with no elevator. I had to help the one delivery guy carry it up the stairs. Then I had to move my old tv which is a 200 pound tv from the late 80's. 2 hours later, and I have it all set up." - chase3001, AVS Member

    "Well, I got my Dell yesterday. I like it, but guess I was expecting a little more. I don't understand all the comments about how great the sound from the included speakers are. They seem average at best to me. I have a Toshiba 50" Cinema Series Projection TV that blows the Dell's sound away. I must admit that the Toshiba's HD picture seems just as good as the Dell as well. My Toshiba doesn't even have a DVI hookup and the Dell does." - Dell Buyer, AVS Member

    "I have had my unit for ~3 weeks now...I am VERY happy with the picture. Digital SD feed from non-HD dishnetwork looks really good. I can only imagine how happy I will be when I get the HD dishnetwork recevier. DVD's look OUTSTANDING (although I find I have to turn off the progressive scan from my Yamaha SD-D5750 and let the TV do the upscaling...when DVD player is in progressive mode I get lots of blocking looking content in dark areas)....once again I am very happy. Only gripes I have: * Buzz/Hum from powersupply (Dell is replacing unit on Monday so I will see if new one has this same issue). * Volume screen stays up on TV for long time when you are adjusting volume...just a nit...but still a little annoying in my opinion. * Component all looks great...but for some reason my Xbox on a component feed leave faint lines all across screen (I will have to investigate more). * Sound is OK...nothing special....but adequate (although I like the look of the seperate speakers alot!). These are my opinions...I am happy for the price...anything with these same specs would be another $1000....and DLP and LCD just dont give me this nice of PQ (at all angles and all light conditions)." - dfade, AVS Member

    "While I don't consider myself an expert, I've been watching HDTV for 3 years on an ISF calibrated 56" CRT 16:9 set in my basement - so I know how good it can look. I'm also fairly confident that I can set the unit up correctly. I did some shopping at the Best Buys and high end stores looking at plasma, DLP and LCDs prior to purchasing this. Cons (and these are only minor issues for me): *Unit is slow to start (as stated before). * Remote is OK, but you have to really aim it at the unit (new batteries did not help.) * Because it can be wall mounted (mine is on the stand), the inputs on the bottom of the unit face downward can be rather difficult and awkward to see and connect. (On the plus the unit is light and sturdy enough to move easily.) Pros: * I am pleasantly surprised with the picture with analog cable input. No complaints at all and it looks better than analog cable on my 56" HDTV CRT in the basement. I replaced a decent 32" 4:3 and I'm not disappointed. * The onboard HD/DTV tuner picked up all the Baltimore digital signals using the rabbit ears. HD and DTV are fantastic. There is a WOW factor that even HDTV on my 56" set doesn't match. Not to mention the tuner/rabbit ears found more DTV signals than my DISH 6000 (using an attic antenna.) * I was planning on getting COMCAST digital with HDTV - but its not needed. I get more HD stations and save $15 per month. * TIVO input looks equivalent to the analog cable (as expected) - no complaints. * The unit itself looks great and very stylish. I mounted the speakers to the unit (versus the stands.) * This puppy sounds better than any TV that I've encountered (that is not connected to an external system.) I do plan to connect a 5.1 system in the future; but its not because this unit sounds bad. * The brightness and contrast are excellent, actually easier to view in daylight than my old 32" unit. * I do not detect any humming or otherwise distracting noises. While this may not be the absolute best looking TV on the market, I found no other plasma near this price that match the features and quality of what I've seen so far. SO for the first two days (at least) - count me a happy and satisfied customer. I am really looking forward to seeing Discovery HD on this TV as soon as I can get my DISH hooked up. - Dave Whipps (drw9537), AVS Member

    "In my case, I'm moving a 32" Sony XBR to another room. While I didn't look at them side by side, there is no way to compare. The HD on the Dell is so much better, I wouldn't know how to assign a percentage. I have D* with the Hughes HD Tivo box. When I got it right, I have full screen, HD content which blew me away. And all of my family (note: my son was giving me static all day and then was converted the minute he saw some real content. Hey ... 17!) felt the same way. I looked at a lot of these things, and don't profess to be an expert, but when this is done right, it is amazing." - GolferV, AVS Member

    "I got my Dell on 12/31 and loved it from the beginning - the HD picture has been superb and the SD livable. But the unit has a problem with retaining the memory in the HD tuner, and I called Dell the first week of Jan to return. Meanwhile, I bought the Vizio P42HD (e) at Costco yesterday, and hooked it up temporarily to my HD TIVO last night with a component cable. I tuned in to local channels with HD broadcasts (primarily CBS), and then also tuned in the Dell to the same (only using the OTA antenna), and then tried to do a very unscientific comparison (my eyes) after adjusted them for equal brightness ( I know, I know). Anyway, to my eyes I noticed that the Vizio seemed to have greater depth and better blacks than the Dell. They were very close in color quality and foreground/background detail (of grass, buildings, roads, water, trees, etc.). The Vizio looked as good as the Dell with better black level (again to my eyes). The Vizio looked about the same on SD as the Dell, both not being great but at least watchable. I'm hooking up my Lumagen Vision HDP video processor this weekend, so that should be improved. I feel very, very good about the Vizio, especially with the Costco return policy, and the great price difference, and with its very good picture quality (my eyes). BTW, both Plasmas feel good, that is, seem to be good quality construction, but I do like the charlcoal bezel on the Vizio better, which matches my black components and speakers. The Vizio also sits much lower on its stand (if you're going to use the table stand) so that wiring from behind doesn't show nearly as much as the Dell which sits up pretty high. Also, again with an uncalibrated feel, the Vizio after 3 hours of use was "cooler" than the Dell which gets very hot, including the glass. The Vizio's glass was more like normal temp. Both were on for the same period of time." - jetcobra (ron), Avsforum Member

    "Sleek and stylish, this is a very nice plasma TV. The HD picture looks as good as anything I have seen at the big box stores. The customer support was fair. Had to cancel my order 2 times before I received the price I wanted and each time it delayed the ship date. Manual could be a little more detailed but is sufficient to get the basic functions up and running. Great set for the money and at this point I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a 42 HD Plasma under $3500." - Johnnn, AVS Member

    "As far as picture quality goes it looks awesome. I am really impressed with the HD picture quality. To me it looks as good or better than the Vizio I was checking out before I decided on the Dell but I have not had them side-by-side. That is what makes it a little hard to do a subjective comparison. It is HD not ED so I like the fact that I am getting "True HD" (whatever that is) But it does show in the picture quality. Like looking out of a window, my wife says it looks almost three-dimensional. The WOW factor is there for sure. It is has a bright, clear, stunning picture quality, awesome sound and is so easy to use my 6 old has no trouble getting it turned on and to the cartoon network. In my review, I did not want to make it sound like it is inferior quality, I just wanted to be as subjective as possible and let you know some of the pros and cons I found since there really is not much out there in the way of unbiased reviews. This is just an average guy's take on the unit. I have done a little research on the web but that is the extent of my expertise. But, I guess I know what looks good to me and this unit looks outstanding. I admit that I was a little nervous when I ordered it since I could not get a recommendation from the major electronics review websites. What I wanted to see was a well-known editor or engineering review team say, "Buy this TV!!! It is the best deal out there" of course I could not get that kind or recommendation but decided to get the unit anyway. Now that I have the W4200HD I am very satisfied and feel that I got a great deal on an awesome TV. If I had to start all over I would buy it again. Hope this helps a little." - Johnnn, AVS Member

    "Analog Cable: What can I say, I am very dissapointed about the analog quality on many chanels when connected via Coax cable. My 10 year old 27" Sony CRT looks better hooked to analog than the Dell unit. It is a possible difference in the line but whatever the case not good. This caused me to rush out and get a Comcast Digital Cable box. However I note that when you go to 4:3 mode, the image quality looks better. Digital Cable 480i/720p/1080i: When the box was set to 480i, the images were very grainy, blochy, and to soft as though there was over compensation for the bad image of the analog channels and the digital channels weren't that great at all, grainy. The pure digital channels however were probably 30% better but nowhere near my crystal clear 36" Sony Wega. Having said that, I looked at the signal on the Comcast box and I didn't have a bad signal but I put a signal booster on it anyway 10db and reduced it to about 5. This helped clear up "some" of the bad and grainy channels but still nowhere near my 36". There is a remarkable difference between 480i and 1080i. I was not entirely impressed with the HDTV channels. Again my 36" Wega outperforms using standard digital channel versus the HDTV channel version for example of HBO. However recall I have a bad set of cables right now. Dell Menus and Options: As it seems with all newer TV's these days, the options for manual adjustments are limited to the basics which I wish there were advanced modes. The remote or the menus are slow to respond to commands at time (not instant) even close or at distance. Size, looks, and sound: The one thing I don't like about the Dell is the two tone. I would have preferred all piano black or for them to have given silver matching speakers. Also with the speakers, the unit is pretty wide. I may dismount them which may help with the large appearance in my bedroom. I also don't like the under mounted buttons on the unit personally but you avoid the power lights from distracting your view. My take, put the buttons in front and remove the lights or leave the lights on the bottom and buttons in front! The sound of the unit is good but not great. Since when are built in speakers great EXCEPT for spacial sounds which my 36" Sony seems to do a better job of. Dell does have SRS and night mode and you can tune treble and bass and doesn't seem to center the sound to well." - KevinJ, AVS Member

    "I just got mine yesterday, i love the look of it, with speakers mounted on sides it looks very nice. Analog cable (comcast guy is coming in today to install 6412 DVR High Def box) looks like crap to put it lightly. DVD, well not impressed at all, my old sony 43 inch projection displayed better picture, the black bars is what really kills it for me but also the picture is not as sharp as it should it be, but i might have shitty dvd player too ( Toshiba SD-V592 dvd-vcr combo, i tried connecting with HDMI cable, but colors are all messed up so i plugged it in just for a day via component cables). All in all "PLUG AND PLAY" first impression not so great, but as i said its plug and play and i suck at setting up tv's so it will take me day or two to make it right we will see how the new cable box works, i am hoping to connect it via DVI." - liquidinferno, AVS Member

    "I posted some negative coments before about picture quality and it was wrong to just assume something is wrong with tv, when it turns out that its just stupid comcast." - liquidinferno, AVS Member

    "Unpacking it from the box I found it to look much more beautiful than I ever imagined. I had never seen one turned off - the screen has a purple tint to it which I didn't expect. Looked awesome though. Extremely heavy, although I expected that and I'm sure they're all quite heavy. No noticable problems other than the loud fan noise - it IS quite loud when the audio levels are low or off. Bummer - but can live with it. Will have to play it nice & loud.... No stuck pixels or any other issues. Perfect as far as I can tell!" - lowella, AVS Member

    "May I just state that this former film critic is absolutely awestruck by everything from the look of the unit to the presentation of widescreen films which I haven't seen look so good since their premiere on (now long-gone) huge urban screens in the 60's & 70's. I've yet to watch more than a little HD off my satellite dish, or to get the full home theatre system wired & running, but I'd have to say that the purchase thus far is an unqualified success. Yes, I can hear the hum (more like a buzz, to my ear) when the audio's turned off. I could care less who made the various components for Dell (as long as they continue to function as marvelously as they are currently.) Otherwise, my advice to everyone is: fight the urge to obsess and just sit back and enjoy." - lupinable, AVS Member

    "A friend and I went to the Kiosk yesterday, armed with my laptop, AVIA and DVE. I set the laptop resolution [via vga] to match the panel (1024x768) and convinced PowerDVD and VideoLan to display 16:9 content in full screen, so the aspect ratio was right on the display. The gray scale, by eye, looked decent, although not perfect. It seems to dip around 70 IRE a bit and get back up. The low end seems to lean to green around 30 IRE, but get back to neutral as you move closer to black. There was very, very little banding, if any, and not noticeable for normal viewing distance. On some gray tones, there was some structure visible, and some 'vibrating' pixels. You would only notice this up close and on a fixed image. The display seems to accentuate colors, and there is no color control for the VGA input, but there is RGB gain. We did not play with it. This, as most plasmas, has a limit on how bright a full field can be displayed. As more of the screen is covered in bright white, the overall brightness of the display goes down, so on test patterns with full screen gray, the gray gets lighter to an off-white and stays there although the pattern is lighter. On the AVIA windowed patterns, I did not notice that effect, nor I see it with the demo material from DVE or the HD clips I used. We did not see any hint of the artifacts typical of cheap plasma displays (banding, dithering, poor black level). In the end we were very pleased with the image quality and my friend bought one." - marcelo3d, AVS Member

    "I saw the Dell Plasma at the ZD Digital Life show held in NYC a month or so ago. It was being fed up-sampled video from HD based device. [snip] It looked OK. Not great. The colors were good, but I did notice a some jaggies on images. It handled fast images well. The source had a lot of the flyover stuff that PBS HD seems to specialize in. And mostly bright images I didn't whole lot dark images. But the black levels did not impress me or depress me. Its overall quality reminded me of the Samsung plasmas: decent image great price. Fujitsu ain't quaking in their boots about it. But it is probably a good deal." -nbloom, AVS Member

    "Had a chance to see the Dell at the Kiosk. It was wall mounted, no feet attached, speakers set down on the counter. The picture was quite comparable to good 42 inch sets I've seen before: Panny, Pio, Sony, ect... They had it running some PC HD video, don't think they had SD material available, but the set did look quite nice." -PanamaMike, AVS Special Member

    "First was the Sony HD300 for our D* (connected via DVI). Immediately had to check out HD content - very impressed. I have owned a Mits WS65807 for a few years now, so my amazement with HD content is tempered somewhat - but I was still very happy with the display. Hearing a lot of negative comments about SD content, I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the Dell performed with non HD D* channels. I was able to tune in a few extra OTA channels via a Silver Sensor antenna with the Dell on board tuner than I was with the D* receiver. I moved onto the Denon 2910 DVD player (SpiderMan2) connected via HDMI. I had a little trouble getting a picture to display (sound was immediately present over the HDMI cable). I had to power down and repower the Dell once in order for the picture to display (although I was playing around with the HDMI settings of the Denon during this time). Upconversion to 720p and 1080i were excellently displayed by the Dell - very pleased. I do want to play around a little bit to see what is the best way to eliminate or minimize the effect of the black bars. I recall setting the Mits up in such a way to eliminate them. The 2910 has a Zoom function that does the trick, but you also lose about 40% of the picture on the edges. As is probably evident, so far I am very happy with the purchase. I think the unit itself looks pretty sweet." - pittsburghpanthe, AVS Member

    "I helped install my friend’s W4200HD last night. Here are a few observations. Keep in mind I did not stick around to fine tune or calibrate the unit, so all my observations were with factory settings straight out of the box. Well packaged, and all components in good working order. The stand is very secure and sturdy. Has all the required inputs you need, except would like to have had an optical audio input (my friend does not have a home theater, so I would have liked to be able to plug in the optical audio from the STB & DVD). Noticed the "humming" noise, but it is not too distracting at all. HD D* signal is very sharp & crisp. However, to my eye it did seem a little overly light or "bright". When comparing it to my Mitsu 65907, the Dell is sharper, but the Mitsu gives you a "fuller" picture. Again, I did not tweak the factory settings at all SD D* signal was ok, pretty much what I expected. Seemed to look best in the "panorama" mode. Analog cable (Adelphia) is Horrible (in my area, analog cable looks horrible on anything). Digital OTA via the Samsung was very nice. Very sharp watching MNF. DVD via component and S-Video was ok, but I was not "blown away". Very nice sound for "stock" speakers. The remote is basic, and easy to navigate. Would suggest replacing it with a good universal however. The overall appearance is very nice. Whether you use the stand or a wall mount, it will be an eye catcher. Overall, I believe this unit is a great value at the current price. I have seen better pictures, but on a scale of 1-10, I would give it an 8." - sfin54, AVS Member

    "The speakers with this unit put out an excellent sound. Very full and rich and almost as good as my surround sound system. This is fortunate because I have yet been able to figure out how to send the audio signal from the TV to my surround sound receiver (I do not have a digital optical connection on my receiver). My cable is your basic, non-digital cable. The picture quality and sound is excellent with some cable channels nearing DVD quality. For those of you complaining about your analog picture being poor I suggest you direct your concerns to your cable company as in my case there is no problem with the W4200HD's capability. I do not hear any "humm" coming from the TV as some people have noticed. One broadcast station (ABC) broadcasts a HD over the air signal in my area. I bought a $50 Terk HDTV indoor antenna and hooked it up to the ATSC connector on the back of the TV. The picture is better than any DVD picture I have seen. I have not done any "tweaking" to this unit. Everything has been perfect right out of the box. The only problem so far has been with the remote. On occassion it simply stops working. This is not a battery problem. After opening the back of the remote and moving the batteries around it resumes functioning again. DVD player is connected to the TV using component cables. Again, the picture is excellent." - sodak, AVS Member

    "Performance? I have it hooked up to a 2-tuner Motorola HDTV/DVR cable box via the DVI cable (set top box from from Comcast) and the HDTV channels look fantastic. no dead lines or bad pixels, etc. The colors look really good to my (untrained) eye. I sit 7-8 feet from the set and there's absolutely no "screen door" effect at that distance. I think this size is perfect for those who sit 7-10 feet from their TV. If you sit 12 feet away I'd get a larger screen. I haven't used the internal tuners. I tweaked the brightness/contrast settings a little for each input (cable/DVD/computer/ReplyTV) -- the set saves your settings for each input. In each case I was able to get a picture I liked." - triii, Avs Member

    "After unpacking the unit and watching TV for several hours, I am happy to report that there are so far NO dead pixels or lines on the TV. HD looks absolutely wonderful, and as bfjones reported, DVDs look fabulous. SD leaves a lot to be desired, though. Some channels are downright horrible while others are okay in WIDE mode. I have Comcast cable so the analog channels look the worst. I also had a Samsung 4674W DLP unit, and the SD channels seemed much more watchable on that (plus I didn't have to stretch anything since there is no burn in). So, I think the Samsung was better for SD but the Dell better for HD and DVDs. If you are planning on watching a lot of DVDs or High Def, you will probably love the picture. Looks as good as any other Plasma I've seen in the store. I will say that sometimes the colors look a bit off on some of the High Def content, but it's hard to tell if it's a poor signal from Comcast or the TV. Since most of the content looks wonderful, I'm leaning towards the actual content of the show (such as "House" on Fox tonight). The only real problem with this TV in my situation is that it's a bit too small for my family room. I sit about 12 feet away from the TV and it just seems a bit too small to me compared to the 46" Samsung I previously returned. When I watched DVDs on that I felt like I was in a movie theater. On the Dell the picture quality is awesome, but I don't get that same "movie theater" feel because of the size. If move about 2-3 feet closer it does feel more comfortable, though, so I guess it all depends on your setup." - xymox9, AVS Member

    "The HDTV picture quality rivals that of some Sony Grand Wegas I tested, and it quite honestly looks as good or better than most of the sets I saw in the $4,000-6,000 range, save perhaps Pioneer 's outstanding line. Playing with the controls and the excellent remote, this unit feels much more like a professional display panel than consumer HDTV, and there is nothing wrong with that. When I watch football in HDTV on this set, I pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming and got this 42" HDTV for the price I did." - Xorg, AVS Member

    Many other reviews and posts outlining individual experiences are available in the full thread:

    Pictures (warning hi-res) (low res of above) (warning hi-res)

    Other threads:

    this document is in a constant state of evolution and will be edited as needed. please PM me if you have any questions or answers not included in this document.
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

    Jan 18, 1999
    Likes Received:
    It doesn't seem this set is of much interest over here (as oppose to the 1200+ posts and 130,000 views over at AVS)-- but I have updated this FAQ to include some "official" info from a Dell Plasma rep who has joined the discussion on AVS.

    I'm still on the fence about mine, I might cancel it and go get the 42 inch 5000:1 contrast HD Vizio from Costco for $1999.


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