capsule review

Samsung HP-S4253

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder HP-S4253

    TechHive Rating

    The slickly designed HP-S4253 offers nice image quality and excellent surround sound, but it’s pricey.

Fans of Samsung televisions won't be disappointed by the company's latest 42-inch plasma, the HP-S4253. It has a shiny piano-black finish, and it earned fairly good marks for image quality in our tests. Though prices on plasmas have been falling dramatically, this set's $1999 price (as of September 8, 2006) makes it higher than several competing units we tested at the same time.

The HP-S4253 performed fairly well in our tests, with jurors awarding it particularly high scores on our DVD test. Colors and skin tones in scenes from our test movies, Seabiscuit and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King looked bright and accurate. The plasma also fared well with high-definition content, though some jurors found that the HP-S4253 did better in darker scenes than in brighter ones. Standard-definition pictures, on the other hand, looked pixelated, and skin tones acquired a greenish hue.

The S4253 offers some extras that other 42-inch plasmas don't, though it doesn't include everything we'd like to see. On the plus side, you get several methods of screen burn-in prevention; integrated SRX surround sound; and a built-in on-screen equalizer for adjusting the sound to your liking. Our jurors found the audio clear and vibrant, and quite loud when appropriate.

The set offers plenty of connections, including two sets of component inputs, one S-Video input, and a VGA input for connecting a PC to the TV. The plasma also includes two HDMI inputs, permitting you to hook up a DVD player and a cable set-top box via their best connections (provided that those peripherals have them, of course). Audio ports include optical audio-out and digital coaxial-out, as well as three sets of analog outputs. The HP-S4253 lacks a CableCard slot, however, which is an attractive feature of some of the other 42-inch plasmas we've tested recently.

Like the menus on other Samsung models, this one can be made transparent, so it doesn't obtruct the content you're watching. The remote was fairly easy to use, though some buttons on the bottom, such as the one for activating the TV's picture-in-picture capability, were small and could easily be overlooked. The TV lacks advanced control over color adjustments, however; instead, you get only basic controls for brightness, sharpness, color, and tone.

The S4253 is a well-rounded 42-inch plasma that delivers fairly strong image quality and great sound, along with some versatility with its connections. But its lack of a few key features--a CableCard slot among them--keeps it from being a true caviar product.

Kalpana Ettenson

This story, "Samsung HP-S4253" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The slickly designed HP-S4253 offers nice image quality and excellent surround sound, but it’s pricey.

    Pros

    • Excellent sound with SRX surround
    • Includes 2 HDMI inputs

    Cons

    • Offers only basic color controls
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