Hitachi L42X01A

Upside: The new L42X01A offers a tremendous leap over its previous flagship 37LD9800TA. Though both are driven by an Alpha-In-Plane Switching (A-IPS) LCD panel, the former now packs twice the number of pixels with a future-proofed 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. Furthermore, its engineers have also managed to improve the set's response time, albeit by a small margin down from 7ms to 5ms. Looking beyond the enticing specifications, you will get to enjoy the benefits of an extended viewing angle and strong color reproduction synonymous of IPS-based displays and derivatives.

The Hitachi 42-incher is shipped with three all-digital HDMI 1.3 terminals. One of these is conveniently located by the side for easy impromptu hookup with the latest crop of HD camcorders and laptops. Placement aside, they also have wide 1080p signal compatibility, capable of accepting both judder-free 24Hz and standard 50/60Hz variants. The former frame rate corresponds to the native recording speed of film-based content, highly sought after among purists and widely adopted by the latest Blu-ray and HD-DVD players.

The last notable difference from its list of credentials is a new Picture Master Full HD Graphics engine, the company's most up-to-date video processor. Designed to meet the high bandwidth rigor of 1080p signals, it promises enhanced color, contrast and clarity built around three core systems. An Advanced Dynamic Contrast function provides frame-by-frame picture optimization, while 3D Color Management does saturation and brightness correction at a lower pixel level. Lastly, face and character recognitions are applied to further reinforce facial and text sharpness.

Downside: All things considered, Hitachi has most of the essentials covered in the L42X01A. That said, it could have done better if its dual analog component-video sockets were 1080p-ready, too. This will put the set on par with most other high-end full-HD panels and a bonus for owners using the older Xbox 360. On the other hand, we would love to have the motorized stand usually bundled free with its premium flat-panel models. This has now been replaced by a manual swivel equivalent which helps to lower manufacturing cost but at the expense of user convenience.

Outlook: The Hitachi L42X01A is a competent IPS-powered LCD TV. If you have space constraints or care less about an overall theatrical experience, this panel is absolutely a serious contender worth a closer look.

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