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RCA 42PA30RQ

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

From RCA comes the 42PA30RQ a 42-inch plasma HD television that is fairly inexpensive. Most of the prices hover around $400. It comes with a 720p resolution and 600Hz. There is a brightness level of 500 nits with a dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1. It has 3 HDMI ports. 

Features List:

– 42 inch screen

– 720p

– 600Hz

– 10,000:1 contrast ratio

– 500 cd/m2

– 3 HDMI ports

Digital Trends’ TV Buying Tips:

Should I worry about viewing angle?

Absolutely. All LCDs will distort when viewed from extreme angles, but the degree of distortion and the angle it starts to occur at varies from TV to TV. If you plan to pack a dozen people in front of a single TV for entertaining, viewing angle will make a huge difference for the unlucky few who get scattered off to the sides. Most manufacturers will state viewing angle in degrees (for instance, 160) in the specifications for a TV, but be warned: methods for measuring this very subjective figure vary, and we can guarantee most companies opt for the most generous figures. When possible, try to evaluate it yourself in person, or read hands-on reviews that can offer anecdotal evidence, rather than relying on easily-manipulated numbers.

Do I need an ATSC tuner?

If you plan on watching, free, over-the-air programming, then yes. As of 2009, all over-the-air broadcasts use the ATSC standard. Pretty much all HDTVs manufactured over the past few years will include this feature.

What resolution do I need?

All consumer HDTVs break down into either 720p or 1080p resolution, which represents the number of horizontal lines in the display. More is obviously better here, but at small screen sizes – like 32 inches – many people find it hard to distinguish the benefit of 1080p resolution. As our guide to screen size points out, viewing distance can also play a factor: The closer you sit, the more you’ll appreciate higher resolution. In general, many people start to see an obvious difference between 1080p and 720p as screens sized 40 inches and up.

Also take into account that much of the content available today doesn’t take advantage of full 1080p resolution. Many shows still broadcast in 720p or 1080i. Technically only Blu-ray discs and digital, non-video sources (like a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or PC hooked up to the TV), really offer true 1080p content. This makes 1080p a no-brainer if you want to play Mass Effect 2 with the most detail and watch Star Trek on Blu-ray, but less essential if you just play to watch standard over-the-air broadcast material.

Which other panel specs should I pay attention to?

In short: brightness, contrast, and refresh time.

Brightness is measured in Candelas per square meter, or cd/m2. A typical figure, for instance, might be 500 cd/m2. More is always better, especially if you plan to plant your TV in a bright room where the screen will have to overcome other light sources.

Contrast is measured as a ratio of the brightest white a TV can produce, over the darkest dark. For instance, Insignia’s NS-L42X-10A offers a 4,000:1 contrast ratio. More is also better, but beware of “dynamic contrast ratios,” which use unrealistic measurement conditions (the brightest white is measured with the backlight set to full, and the darkest dark with the backlight to minimum, even though those levels could never occur side by side on the same screen) to inflate the number to levels like 2,000,000:1.

Refresh time is measured in milliseconds, such as 5ms. Lower is always better, and will prevent the “ghosting” that can sometimes be seen in fast-motion video.

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