When it comes to LCD TVs, there's no denying that Hitachi is definitely a top-tier manufacturer. The Hitachi 32LD960DTA is a 32in LCD TV with an integrated high definition TV tuner and a native resolution of 1366x768 (capable of displaying resolutions up to 1080i). Based on previous models we have reviewed from Hitachi, we had big hopes for this model, which were thankfully fulfilled. In high definition, at resolutions of 720p and 1080i, the image quality was excellent and there are no problems to speak of. In standard definition, at 576i, there were only a handful of issues, most of which wont impact heavily on the image quality while watching DVDs. On the whole, this is yet another impressive addition to Hitachi's line up. It offers top-notch quality at a competitive price point.
- Exceptional high definition performance, attractive design, good range of connections, top-notch HDTV Tuner
- Some minor image aberrations in standard definition, no PC connection
The Hitachi 32LD960DTA performed brilliantly in high definition and had only a handful of minor problems in standard definition.
Price$ 2,199.00 (AUD)
High definition (720p, 1080i)
To test the high definition capabilities of the unit we ran gaming and video tests using an Xbox 360. We played games and watched downloaded videos at 720p and we viewed an HD-DVD film at 1080i.
We played Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 and found no problems whatsoever. The image clarity was sublime, with no noise or pixelation and curved edges were smooth without any aliasing problems. There was a small amount of over-sharpening, but this was easily corrected by turning down the default sharpness setting in the on-screen display (OSD). We detected no ghosting or excessive motion blurring and the colours and contrast were excellent. We also viewed high definition video at 720p, which we downloaded from the Xbox Live service. The image quality was on par with the gaming tests, with no issues to speak of.
To test the TV's 1080i capabilities, we watched the Empire State Building scene from King Kong on HD-DVD. There were no discolourations, pixelation or over-sharpening issues and the contrast was excellent with a smooth transition between dark and light areas. We found a minute amount of noise in the background textures, but from a comfortable distance this will not be noticeable and it definitely won't have any adverse impact on the overall image quality.
In high definition, the Hitachi 32LD960DTA excels. It will suit anyone looking to get in on high definition gaming or any of the emerging high definition video formats.
Standard definition (576i)
In standard definition, the unit faired well but wasn't quite up to the standard set by its high definition capabilities. We ran a series of three tests using the Digital Video Essentials (DVE) and Philips CE 2006 Demo DVDs as well as the lobby scene from The Matrix DVD.
The Digital Video Essentials (DVE) and Philips CE 2006 tests are both still-image tests designed to check the standard definition capabilities at a fundamental level. In DVE we found some noise in the low grey colours of the greyscale block tests, which was also evident in the greyscale tests. There were no problems with the black on white contrast tests nor the SMPTE colour bar tests, and the colour bar test was also flawless. In the Philips tests, we found a little over-saturation in red colours, but this could be easily adjusted by reducing the amount of red in the image. However, you should be careful when playing with this setting. Reducing red level may make all the other colours look a little strange if you aren't confident with what you are doing.
Since grey is the basis of all shading and colour tones on an LCD panel, we expected to see the noise carry over to the DVD video tests, but this wasn't so. We found no noise while viewing the lobby scene from The Matrix, but we did detect a small amount of pixelation on edges. The pixelation wasn't severe in any way and, for most people, probably won't be noticed when watching movies. We also found the contrast levels to be just as good as they were in the high definition video tests, with no colour stepping on skin tones. Colour stepping is a common problem in panels that aren't of the highest quality.
HDTV, sound and design
The integrated HDTV tuner turned was excellent in our tests. Most impressive was the time it took to set up the tuner upon initial installation. Where most units take around two and half minutes, the Hitachi took only 40 seconds and it found every channel available in our region. The image quality is also top-notch for when watching HDTV and still rather good for SD channels.
The TV's speakers are located below the bezel and they produced rich sound, even at high levels, without distorting. We found the audio quality to be quite good, but there was a slight emphasis louder sound effects in our source material, while many subtle effects were drowned out. There are preset sound modes that can correct this, but each mode has its limitations. To correct one area of the audio, the presets tend to remove quality from another area in order to achieve their function. For general use, this isn't a problem but those looking for high quality audio may need to look into purchasing a home theatre speaker system.
The unit has a matte black bezel, a metallic grey stand and speakers, and it comes with an electronic swivel base. The rear of the panel has two component, two HDMI, three composite and two S-Video connections. We would have liked to see a D-Sub port to connect a PC to the unit, but considering the panel quality and price point, this isn't a massive loss.
The Hitachi 32LD960DTA performed brilliantly in high definition and had only a handful of minor problems in standard definition. If you're looking for a unit with which to play HD games or watch HD-DVD and Blu-Ray films, this unit will be exceptional and displaying your DVD collection will look quite good too. Those wanting to connect their media centre PCs to the unit will be left wanting and may need to look elsewhere.
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