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Vivadi Saturn HD50 50in Plasma & Media Center

Vivadi, the British company behind the Saturn HD50, was formed on the back of a single big idea: why not make a TV that’s as much a piece of designer furniture as it is a TV and which can be almost infinitely upgraded to keep up with new technologies as and when they arrive? In other words, Vivadi wanted to create a TV that you didn’t have to completely replace every couple of years, but which could grow old with you like a pair of cutting edge AV slippers…

The early signs from the Saturn HD50 are that Vivadi has achieved its dreams with a really quite remarkable degree of success. Running HD50 at an obscene $20,000, plus another $9,400 for custom speakers, you would be thinking “How does Vivadi justify this price?”

The 50” screen is reasonably pretty in itself, but what makes the Saturn truly special is what the screen’s mounted on: namely a sumptuous floor-standing console made from curved wood available in any of three finishes: Natural Cherry, Morello Cherry, and Natural Maple.

Full set of surround sound speakers using NXT flat-panel technology that match the Saturn HD50 in wood-finished style and, amazingly, scale. What’s more, you can even select the colour of the speaker grilles from a choice of Petrol Blue, Ruby Red, or Ebony. Vivadi claims it will consider bespoke finishes for all elements of the system, too – provided they’re possible and you’re willing to pay whatever extra they cost to produce.

While this initially appears daft on such a posh TV, it’s arguably not as serious as it sounds. The set still has an HD friendly native resolution of 1,366 x 768 and its HDMI jacks will take the key 720p and 1080i formats. And going forward digital connections will doubtless start to render HD component connections redundant. But the lack of a component HD option does mean the HD50 won’t let you connect an Xbox 360 in HD mode via the normal Microsoft component cable.

The final point to make about the Saturn HD50 is that it features a racking system tastefully tucked away inside the cabinet where you can invisibly add, say, a Sky HD box.

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