Style and Performance: the Marantz PD4290D Plasma Screen

Décor-conscious movie buffs dismayed by big, black rear projector sets have something new to look at. Marantz has come up with the PD4290D widescreen plasma monitor--it's only 3.5-inches deep, but offers wide-angle viewing from its 42-inch diagonal screen. Mounted on a wall (with cables hidden) or on its tabletop stand, the $14,999 PD4290D makes an unequivocal statement about melding technology with high style.

The beneficiary of intense research and development, Marantz's new display is 60% brighter and offers 50% better contrast than its predecessor, and, the company says, produces an image with "breathtaking clarity and color fidelity." A built-in line doubler lifts any standard video signal almost to high-definition levels, and a "Stadium mode" image expander will stretch an ordinary 4:3 image to fill the entire screen. A total of four aspect ratios are available for users to choose from, including widescreen and full-screen movies formats. Horizontal and vertical proportions are all user-adjustable.

The PD4290D was designed with versatility in mind. Its patch panel is fitted with S-video, RGB, composite, and component video inputs; and DTV and computer compatible inputs for both Macintosh and Windows PCs. Marantz's plasma screen will accept and display "native format" 480p, 720p and 1080I DTV/HDTV signals, and includes a seven-language on-screen menu system. Plama screens are one of the fastest-growing categories in the home theater market.