Written on: 25/07/2006 by Morr (3 reviews written)
Incredible specification for the money
Picture quality and build quality, or rather the lack of
The Neovia NEOPL-4950 Plasma TV is Neovia's flagship TV, boasting an excellent range of features. Whilst not directly boasting HD capability, its 1024 X 768 resolution with DVI inputs should be capable of dealing with them.
The feature list is indeed attractive, boasting better resolution and more features than any other set in its price range (€1700 in January 2006). See www.neovia.biz for the full spec.
For me, the major selling points were the high resolution, VGA and DVI inputs, no silver on the set (it's all in a pleasing dark gray), very compact size overall for a 42" display and detachable speakers (I use a separate 5.1 system, so removing the unwanted speakers helps reduce its overall size to far below that offered by any of the competition), and the twin tuner permitting simultaneous split screen of both TV and PC.
Living with the Neovia:
Initially it looked great. Many people commented on the appearance, which is neat and uncluttered, and it looks very tidy in the room.
Switching it on revealed the first disappointment - the loud buzzing noise, presumably from the internal transformer. As this was our first Plasma unit I was initially unsure how normal or acceptable this was.
The picture as first looked great, although certain items can look slightly fuzzy, for example the Sky digibox menus. Certain colour difficulties soon became apparent, and some gradients were displayed very blocky, ie. if the screen should have shown an area of colour that faded from dark to light, very noticeable bands of colour would be displayed. I can best describe this as similar to a jpeg picture which has been overly compressed.
When using it to display the PC screen, it was impossible to obtain a pure white, and it always has a tinge of blue no matter how we tried to configure it.
The picture in picture (PiP) mode is also poorly executed. Each mode must be accessed consecutively, ie. to get to a split screen you first have to select a small PiP, then medium, then large, and finally a full 50/50 split. Whilst this is also true of many other manufactures offerings, they at least work a lost faster. The Neovia would take at least a second or two to switch between most modes, with the step to full 50/50 split taking a further 3 to 5 seconds to appear, accompanied by a noticeable increase in the previously mentioned buzzing.
The remote control was also poorly designed, with the batteries at the front (emitter end of the unit) it did not sit too comfortably in the hand. The layout of the buttons was also very poor, with virtually buttons identical in size and all in a grid layout, so it was very hard to operate by feel, as one can normally do after a time. Six months down the road and we still had to look for most of the buttons to find them.
One major omission is the lack of a proper power off button. Both the remote and the set mounted button can only place it in standby, and it has no method (other than unplugging it) of turning it off completely!
The last straw for us was when, after only 6 months use the power (really just standby) button on the set fell off!
OK, back to the shop to see about having it repaired under warranty (we figured we were stuck with it so we had to get it repaired) where we found out it could take 4 to 6 weeks to get the parts and have it repaired!
Thankfully, the shop we bought it from (D.I.D. in Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland) were incredibly helpful and offered us a brand new direct replacement immediately, and they also gave us the option to choose a different set using the full original purchase price against any alternative set. It was a no brainer. We added a bit more money and got a 42" Philips LCD TV, which is far superior in virtually every respect (I do miss the detachable speakers though).
In short, avoid this one like the plague unless you get it at a serious knock-down price, like for free! Seriously, don't bother with this model, the poor display and incessant buzzing are just not acceptable at any price.