Nexus NX502 Highlights:
MSRP: $2,900.00 (USD)
It was with great anticipation that I dug into the packaging that contained the newest kid on the plasma block, care of the fine folks at Nexus. Weighing in at a hefty 100-plus pounds (119 lbs. or 53.98 kgs.), make sure you tag team this packaging when taking the unit out of the box. While not a household name in some circles, Nexus appears to be an up-and-coming player with a fine slate of HD televisions already under their belts. One such model is the Nexus NX502 HD plasma TV. It’s a 50-incher, and provides much bang for its buck.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS - Nexus HD Plasma TV
Style & Appearance
The first thing you’ll notice about the NX502 HD plasma television is its fine matte black finish. This is all a matter of preference, of course, but count me on the list of that now-burgeoning pro-matte black faction. While my first forays into the world of big-screen televisions had me loving super-shiny piano finishes, there’s a timeless quality that you get with matte finishes that eventually wins you over. An added bonus: the fact that it seems to blend into the background better. This allows you to be completely engrossed with what matters most – your viewing experience. The matte black is finely accented with silver trim running across the bottom of the TV, and the unit comes with a more-than-able table stand. While devoid of any swiveling capabilities, it does do the job once you’ve determined where you’d like to place your TV. The matte bezel framing around the unit’s screen is thankfully slim, greatly enhancing any room in your house with its appealing brand of furniture value. The bottom right side of the unit repeats a few of the TV’s remote control functions such as power, volume, channel, input, and menu. The fact that it’s tucked away from your eye is a nice bonus as it doesn’t detract from the clean design of the unit head-on.
A check of the unit’s rear gives us all the connection inputs we’ve come to expect with the newer generation of HD plasmas. You’ve got two HDMI inputs, two Component inputs, two RCA inputs, along with one S-Video and one VGA input. Another plus is that all of the rear connections are positively frustration-free: nicely laid out, clearly labeled, and color-coded for ease of use.
PERFORMANCE - Nexus HD Plasma TV
Unlike most projectors, with home theater HD televisions that don’t require mounting – like the NX502 plasma – there really isn’t much effort required, save for the actual physical labor of taking it out of the box and placing it on a stand of some kind. One important consideration though: deciding where you want to place it in relation to where you and/or family and friends will be seated.
As discussed in the NX3202 review, a good gauge for this is applying the useful “2 to 5” principle. This entails making sure that the closest seating position is no more than 2 times (actually 1.54) the screen width, and that the furthest (or is it farthest?) seating position is no more than 5 times the screen width. For the NX502, a quick bit of math says that the closest seating position should be 67.8 inches (5.7 feet), and the furthest should be 220 inches (18.3 feet). Again, personal preference almost always reigns supreme, but these figures at least give you some kind of a starting point to work from.
In terms of the menus, the NX502 HD plasma TV boasts a very simple and easy to navigate through menu system, allowing you to tweak a wide variety of settings within the picture and audio categories. Below you’ll find screenshots of the Picture and Audio menus.
In addition to those, the NX502 HD plasma television also features menus for Setup and Feature. Once you’re there, you can access various sub-menus, and for the specific categories that you’re unsure of, the hardcopy user manual for the TV will give you the pertinent details. All in all: a very well laid out menu system with multiple options that allow for exceptional user interaction.
So we’ve established that Nexus NX502 plasma TV is a pleasing piece of eye candy, but is there substance to go along with all this style? I will say in no uncertain terms: YES, the Nexus NX502 has plenty of substance to match its style.
The screen itself is a dark, charcoal gray. While a solid black screen is usually a good indicator as to the quality of picture you can expect (and usually more conducive to a grade-A picture), I was pleasantly surprised with the images that this unit could produce. With a resolution clocking in at 1366 x 768, and an astounding advertised contrast ratio of 15,000:1, the Nexus NX502 HD plasma TV packs some obvious punch. While numbers regarding contrast ratio can often times be dubious at best (there is no standardized, across-the-board criteria for arriving at such numbers), as I’ll describe later on, testing of this unit would yield favorable image results.
As with any review, we first tested this unit raw and out-of-box, without any adjustments or color calibration. We popped in BBC’s Planet Earth (a perennial testing favorite), using Sony’s PS3 for Blu-ray playback. We switched between HDMI and Component connections utilizing both 1080i and 720p. Across the line, performance via 1080i and 720p using HDMI and component cables was identical. Even the most discerning eye would be hard-pressed to find any obvious image differences between the two. The range of colors were quite remarkable, and the blacks were deep and rich. Whether we were spending quality time with the polar bears in the haze of white snow and blue skies, or jumping about with the monkeys in a multi-colored forest of awe-inspiring spectacle, all the colors popped, and the detail was just south of remarkable. While there were some slight issues with color uniformity and marginal banding in particularly brighter scenes, it was nothing that would diminish at all from your viewing experience.
Prior to color calibration, I experimented with the on-screen menu. It yielded improved image results with just the most basic of tweaking, that thankfully, didn’t require a Ph.D. in rocket science. Offering the standard menu features: Video, Audio, Setup, and Feature, the Video section alone offered up a whopping nine out-of-box image presets to adjust virtually any image to your personal preferences. In the Picture category, this HD plasma TV featured: bright, nature, soft, and user defined (which allows you to create, save, and access your very own customized settings). The Color Temperature category had: normal, cool, and warm. I found that coupling the normal-soft preset was a good starting point, appealing to both a vivid, yet realistic image.
Utilizing additional display settings, I had as follows:
For those of you who like to control all aspects of your viewing experience, the process of color calibration and white balance was a relatively simple process as the Nexus NX502 plasma television proved to be quite an intuitive and willing pupil. While to the naked eye the results of these modifications could be termed as indistinguishable, I did note a slight improvement in picture sharpness and color saturation. Banding and image uniformity were also improved. In all honesty though, for those who just want a great, hassle-free plasma TV that they can basically just plug and play, having to do a professional color calibration seems to be more an option of personal preference, and is by no means a necessity.
After settling on my post-calibration picture settings, my eyes were now happy and smiling: color tracking was spot on, and overall image quality got just the right pinch of spice that it needed.
The speakers run along the bottom of the NX502. While they’re standard issue when it comes to factory-made and built-in audio, the Nexus NX502 HD plasma TV offers a clean and crisp sound. While not as engrossing and all-encompassing an audio delight as a receiver-type set up would be, it manages to maintain a sharp and clear sound, even when the volume is cranked up considerably. In short: if you’re not one for all the fancy bells and whistles, the NX502 audio offers up a more than admirable compliment to its stellar picture quality. When the unit is on, but idle, i.e., you’re not watching anything, there is a slight transistor panel humming that can be vaguely heard. Really though, once the TV is on, you'll very likely be watching/listening to something. At that point, the humming is nothing more than a distant memory that in no way, shape, or form factors into your day-to-day enjoyment of the television.
FINAL THOUGHTS - Nexus HD Plasma TV
In the ever-changing, ever-expanding world of high-def televisions, it can be quite a slippery slope to navigate when it comes to settling on any one brand. While Nexus may suffer a bit in the name recognition category, rest assured, if they can continue to create stellar units like the 50-inch, NX502 HD plasma TV, positive word of mouth will spread, and Nexus can then deservingly take its place amongst the electronics heavyweights such as Sony, Pioneer, Panasonic, and Toshiba. So whether your viewing pleasure is gaming, movies, sports, or anything else, the Nexus NX502 offers the range and versatility to pull it all off. And with a virtually unheard of full, two-year, in-home warranty – both Canada and the U.S. – your investment will be very well protected. Bottom line: if you’re looking for an exceptional, HD home theater experience that won’t break the bank, the Nexus NX502 HD plasma television makes for a great choice.
DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS - Nexus NX502 HD Plasma TV
Manufacturer Homepage: www.nexuselectronics.com
Ridley Acoustics EVIO852B
Sinclair Cube System
RF Link AVS-5811