Bush 50 Inch (Bush50inch) HD Ready Plasma Television Review
Time to grab a big one from the Argos catalogue
IntroductionThere are very few Plasma TVs featured in the current edition of the Argos catalogue and that’s a somewhat sad reflection on their current standing at retail. Plasma’s are generally less stylish than their LED TV counterparts, consume more energy and, mostly, don’t stand up too well to in-store lighting where consumers generally form their opinions of relative picture quality. It’s a shame but a fact that the plasma TV market is in sharp decline and we get the feeling it won’t be long until we’re left with very little choice in the PDP sector. The HD Ready 50inch Bush model we have here for review will undoubtedly be equipped with a panel provided by LG, Samsung or (less likely) Panasonic with a Bush ‘front end’ in place. Bush is another of the Vestel based brands – Vestel are a Turkish manufacturer that are surprisingly the 3rd largest producers of TVs, Worldwide. We’ve run the rule over a number of Vestel TVs over the past few months, with mixed results, let’s see how the Bush 50inch HD Ready TV stacks up.
Design and ConnectionsThe crop of 50 inch (or thereabouts) plasma TVs we’ve seen in 2012 have all been quite comfortable for the seasoned TV reviewer to handle and assemble, singlehandedly. Perhaps we shouldn’t have admitted that for fear of Elf and Safety reprisals but it is a fact. The HD Ready Bush in question here definitely proved more of a challenge, combining plenty of bulk with a fair amount of weight. The base-stand that supports it is appropriately hefty but better than safe than sorry and we were pleased to note its generous ‘swivelability’. The styling of the bezel is plain and simple gloss black but not as thick as we might have expected, at only 4cm to the top and sides and around 5cm at the bottom. We’re weren’t too impressed with the supplied remote control, the buttons are very small, the accompanying printing of use assignment is difficult to read and the whole lay out is a little cluttered but it gets the job done, in a cheap feeling way.
Despite the relative of bulkiness of the Bush Plasma TV, it is equipped for wall mounting as it features 2 down-facing HDMI ports as well as one to the side. Also downwards pointing are a USB port, a SCART socket and a VGA PC Connection with accompanying audio jack. Completing the side facing connections are a CAM slot, the aerial socket, a coax audio out, RCA connections for composite video and stereo audio plus the input for the supplied component video adapter.
MenusMenu choices are somewhat sparse aboard the Bush 50inch Plasma, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as too many choices can confuse the end user but we are used to just a few more options, even on budget brands and models. The Menu system is split in to five areas – Picture, Sound, Time, Lock and Set Up – but probably could have been made in to three sub-menus to simplify things even further. Outside of the Picture Menu, the only real setting of note is the Aspect Ratio option in the Setup Menu.
The Picture Menu, itself, has a choice of Modes – Dynamic/Standard/Personal/Mild – but only the Personal option allows control over the Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Sharpness and Tint controls, which is an unnecessarily restrictive measure. We’d best hope Personal proves close enough to the industry standards for picture quality else we’ll be left with a picture we can’t match to the viewing conditions. The remaining two picture controls, Colour Temp and Noise Reduction, are accessible in any of the modes which makes the exclusion of the other controls all the more baffling.
FeaturesThe Bush plasma does have more than a solitary feature to report on, unlike the other Argos TVs we’ve recently covered. First off there’s a media player available through USB storage media; it’s nicely presented and allows for some very basic music (mp3) and photo (jpg variant) files but, just like the other Argos TVs, they struggle to play even the most basic video files. The fact that to exit out of the player requires a press of the Source button and then several further presses to go back to your desired input is also a bit of a niggle. Complementing the media player is the ability to hook up further USB storage to enable the use of PVR (Personal Video Recorder) facilities; meaning pause, rewind and record capabilities from the inbuilt tuners. When we say ‘complementing’, it’s really an either/or scenario as there’s a solitary USB input but, still, it’s a very good feature.
Test ResultsThere are no controls over the White Balance in the user menus, not that we expected any, so a basic set up is about as far as we’d be able to push this Bush. We’d normally expect that changing to a Warm colour temperature would yield a more accurate greyscale but, remarkably, this wasn’t the case here; it made things noticeably worse by increasing the blue energy! As we mentioned earlier, all but the Personal Picture Mode are neutered by the locking down of the basic picture controls so it was with that we set about ‘making do’.
The best we were able to achieve (and we use ‘best’ loosely) was to manipulate the Contrast and Brightness controls to achieve the flattest gamma response possible from the Bush which, in turn, reduced Delta Errors a few notches. We’d usually aim for average delta errors to be hitting no more than 3 but, as the Delta E 1976 graph illustrates, we’re a colossal way off achieving that. Colour reproduction is still disappointing and we had to balance an under-luminance of red with an over-saturation and over-luminance of the other colours, particularly green, whose errors are most noticeable to the human eye. It was very much a compromised result that we in fact ended up doing by eye in the final analysis to inject some realism in to skin tones. ’Not great’ would be the euphemistic summary.
We could certainly apply the summary above to the performance here, also. The Bush plasma had a mediocre full screen black measurement of 0.122 cd/m2 against a peak white measurement of 120cd/m2 giving it an average On/Off Contrast Ratio of around 987:1. More realistic is the ANSI contrast figure which gives an indication of intra-frame contrast performance, i.e. how simultaneously dark and bright can the display be. The 50 inch Bush was well below mediocre here with an ANSI contrast of just 600:1 thanks to an averaged black level of 0.146 cd/m2 against an average peak white of about 87 cd/m2.
The Bush fared slightly better in this area and managed a decent job of scaling standard definition content without much ringing. To add to the positive news, the Bush also picked up on the PAL 2:2 cadence quite quickly and maintained the lock. Deinterlacing was of an average standard with jaggies visible in the middle portions of the test on the Spears and Munsil benchmark Blu-ray which also revealed that, like many Vestel engineered TVs, it was not the best at handling a 1080p24 signal; with some shredding of edges and a general jitteriness not present in the original content. The Bush 50 inch plasma was also unable to reach a reference white level of 235 which means it will clip details out of the brighter portions of the picture.
Most gamers would probably quite satisfied with the Bush in terms of latency, with an input lag of around 38 milliseconds, it’s amongst the most responsive plasma’s we’ve tested in 2012 using our dedicated instrument. The Bush does show the familiar plasma trait of double imaging with games that run natively under 60 frames per second but many won’t notice, although the chronic image retention issues might put a lot of people off plugging a console or PC in to it.
- Standby: 0.0w
- Out of the Box – Standard Mode: 270w
- Calibrated – Personal Mode: 242w
Picture QualityThe first thing we noticed when watching the 50-inch Bush Plasma was just how ‘dithery’ the imaged appear. Plasma technology uses various forms of dither and pulse width modulation (PWM) techniques to ‘expand’ the native colour palette and some manufacturer’s implementations of the technique are ‘noisier’ than others. To be fair, when we moved back a couple of feet from our usual position, it was more difficult to pick up on the dither, although ‘green noise’ was ever present in the blacks. This isn’t a TV you would want to watch up close and certainly not one we’d recommend used as an auxiliary PC monitor. If the dither doesn’t get you, the Bush’s incredible propensity for image retention (IR) will. We would literally only have to leave a static menu, for example, up for a couple of seconds for a lasting imprint to be left on pictures for fifteen minutes hence. Again, to be fair, a lot of plasma TVs are more prone to IR during their nascent hours but we’d certainly advise pragmatism for any owners out there and the avoidance/minimisation of channel logos, material framed in black bars and video games would be prudent for the first couple of hundred hours.
It would seem the engineers behind the Bush plasma are acutely aware of the image retention given they’ve built an undefeatable pixel ‘orbiter’ in to it. We have no problems with orbiters when used sparingly but here the image would shift, very noticeably, every few seconds. All of which is highly distracting, especially as it drags the edges of objects with it, causing a double (or more) image effect. A similar double imaging could be seen in panning scenes also, regardless of the pixel orbiter. We’ve seen a similar phenomenon with the Panasonic plasma TVs in recent years but here it’s not confined to 50Hz content and a fair degree worse in its manifestation; so one of plasma technologies’ strengths is not inherent in the Bush. Another, deep blacks – and resultant impressive dynamic range – was also lacking in the Bush plasma as the Test Results page demonstrates. We’d usually be able to report that at least the most accurate picture mode would bring about passable colour accuracy and greyscale but, sadly, that wasn’t the case here. We’re struggling for anything positive to say, in all honesty, but the Bush was capable of attaining levels of brightness we couldn’t get anywhere near reaching with the current crop of plasmas from Panasonic, Samsung and LG. In theory that should mean it’s well suited for use in a bright room but the lack of any anti-reflective measures or filter to combat ambient light puts paid to that.
Audio QualityDespite its relatively stout chassis, this 50inch Bush Plasma TV’s speakers aren’t demonstrably any better than most we see/hear in much slimmer models. It sounds every inch the claimed 2 x 5w output on the spec sheet and as a result there’s no depth or dimensionality to the sound. The best thing we can say is that dialogue remains clear, even with the volume slider quite high but that’s about all. Mediocre fair.
- Bright Pictures
- Simple Menus
- USB PVR facility
- Responsive for gamers
- Large screen for a low price
- Poor dynamic range and mediocre Black Levels
- No accurate Picture Modes
- Distracting picture shifting
- Very bad image retention
- Double edges with movement
- Blu-rays stutter badly at times
- Cheap remote
Bush 50 Inch (Bush50inch) HD Ready Plasma Television Review
The Bush 50 inch Plasma TV isn’t exactly one of the pretty boys of the TV market but its beefy simplicity didn’t cause us any offence and there are enough connections around the back of the stout chassis to keep most satisfied. The remote control, however, has that air of cheapness engendered by small, knobbly buttons that are hard to read and a lightweight build quality. The Bush’s menu system couldn’t have been much more simplistic and we’ve rarely – if ever – seen such a paucity of picture controls. The controls that are present are also mostly locked down unless the Personal viewing mode is selected. Thankfully that mode proved no less accurate than any of the others, not that it’s saying much, and for once we weren’t really able to bring any really meaningful improvements to picture quality by means of a basic calibration.
The bad news didn’t stop there, unfortunately, and the in-built – and undefeatable – pixel orbiter, designed to ameliorate the problems of image retention both frustrated in its regularity of picture shifting and, moreover, didn’t really work at all; making the Bush one of the worst offenders for this particular plasma technology trait. The weak contrast levels didn’t really help portray any content in its best light, either, and the LG-esque dithering of the picture means it’s not one for watching anything like close up. On the plus side, processing of standard definition signals was quite good and input lag for gamers was relatively low. The fact the Bush could be pushed to produce a very bright picture, by plasma standards, would have been more of an advantage had any measures to combat either reflections or ambient light been but in place.
Ultimately this Bush 50 inch plasma is an advert for everything people don’t like about plasma TVs – poor ANSI contrast, noisy pictures and inadequate handling of bright room conditions – and there are much better examples of plasma technology available; perhaps not priced at exactly the same level as the Bush but close enough for it to miss out on an award.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £499.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level4
Ease Of Use6
Value for Money4
Our Review Ethos
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