Revox E-542 42-Inch Plasma Monitor
"WOW!" That was about the only word photographer Randy Cordero and I could muster as we took the bright-yellow-framed plasma set out of its shipping carton. Sure, we'd seen plasma monitors before, but none as striking as this one. We had specially ordered the E-542 in Ferrari yellow, for no other reason than because we could. Revox offers a number of different frames for the display to match your yacht, aircraft, or bedroom décor. It turns out that this isn't the only customizable option either.
Plasma, for those who are just joining us, is a relatively new technology that allows manufacturers to build ultrathin large-screen video displays. In simple terms, the technology uses tons of tiny excitable, light-emitting gas particles (the plasma) sandwiched between electrical plates. When the electrical plates are activated, they send a charge through the gas, which causes the particles to light up and create an image.
The Revox E-542 doesn't just consist of the monitor; you also get a separate input/power interface, a rather large cable that links the monitor to the interface, and the almost ubiquitous universal remote. The 42-inch display has an 852:480 resolution, which is typical of many plasma monitors. Also typical are the cooling fans that you can hear from the listening position. Plasma technology uses a number of video processors that generate a considerable amount of heat. Keep this in mind if you're planning on installing the unit in a confined space.
The E-542's cabinet depth is about an inch slimmer than competing models. When you're talking about 4 inches total, an inch is a big deal. As if that wasn't enough, Revox provides an incredibly simple and slim mounting bracket, shaving even more inches off of the monitor's protrusion.
The separate input/power interface offers added flexibility by moving individual connections from the monitor to the equipment rack. The interface is even rack-mountable. Only the interface cable, a HoHo-sized (but considerably stiffer) umbilical cord, is connected to the monitor. Revox should have a smaller, more-flexible cable available by the time you read this. The interface's commercial/industrial appearance doesn't quite match with the display, but it does have a very professional look.
Both the composite and component inputs utilize professional BNC-type connectors, which make a better interface than the standard phono-type plug. The component input only accepts NTSC-level signals; progressive DVD and component HDTV signals need not apply. S-video and D-Sub 15 (RGB) inputs are also provided. Again, though, the RGB input won't accept 1080i HDTV signals. It will, however, accept computer rates from VGA to XGA, which should include the high-def 720p scan rate; unfortunately, our Panasonic tuner lacks the necessary RGB outputs to test this theory. For best results, computer images should be set to the display's native 480p resolution. The E-542 also provides an internal line doubler for NTSC sources, which does a reasonable job of upconverting the image. Vertical motion on specific detailed images can create motion artifacts, and some diagonal lines do become jagged. Overall, though, its performance is equal to most other built-in line doublers I've seen.