Hitachi Ultravision 65XWX20B rear-projection CRT HDTV Page 3
Hitachi rates the Ultravision 65XWX20B's horizontal resolution conservatively (good for them!) at 1280 lines—considerably less than the 1920 lines specified in the ATSC standard. Because of optics and other considerations, few display devices other than the megabuck front CRT projectors can come close to 1920. Still, once properly calibrated, I'd bet the 65XWX20B surpasses Hitachi's conservative figure. Watching the Grammy Awards presentation on CBS in hi-def with Dolby Digital 5.1 was close to a "you are there" experience.
The sensitivity of the 65XWX20B's built-in ATSC tuner was difficult to judge—here in New York City, we've still got only CBS, Fox, and WWOR-DT. (The other digital stations, whose broadcast tower was lost in the collapse of the World Trade Center, had yet to come back online when this review was written.) The Hitachi's tuner picked up all three with no trouble. Direct A/B comparisons between it and the RCA DTC-100's ATSC tuner demonstrated that Hitachi's looked somewhat darker and perhaps a bit more grainy, but with better color saturation. It was possible to get them pretty close by adjusting the Picture controls. I wish Hitachi had put one of the two FireWire ports on the front panel, where it would have been easier to access.
Over-the-air sitcoms, The Sopranos, X-Men (on prerecorded D-Theater D-VHS), HDNet, live NY Knicks games, movies—there's so much HD content available now that it's becoming commonplace. Still, the picture—especially from the HD video offered by HDNet—remained mesmerizing. If the picture produced by the 65XWX20B with HD content was not quite as good as the best of what's theoretically possible, neither is much of the content, because there are big differences among what's being broadcast. Even if hi-def can look somewhat better (for a great deal more money), the best of it looks spectacularly good on this set. If you get a chance to see the Ultravision 65XWX20B properly calibrated and under reasonable light conditions, I think you'll agree.
Everything TJN said about the 51-inch version of this set is true of the biggest, top-of-the-line model, including the same remote and easy-to-use operating system. The Hitachi Ultravision 65XWX20B is a 65-inch set that extends the promise found at the center of its screen almost all the way out to the corners—not an easy thing to do with a CRT-based RPTV.
Don't be concerned by the less-than-ideal gray-scale chart in the "Calibration" sidebar—the Ultravision's subjective color and black-and-white performance was exemplary. There have been some complaints about "electric" greens; this is a result of tweaking at the factory, and it can be corrected in the service menu by a calibrator while doing the rest of the setup. I did it in a few minutes, with some help by phone from someone at Hitachi America—and I really hadn't minded how it looked in the first place.
The anti-glare screen was quite effective—if you have light problems during the day, it's probably worth spending $5299 for the XWX model, which also gets you the ATSC tuner and FireWire port. If you already have a high-definition tuner, need both terrestrial and satellite reception, or have an unusually forward-thinking cable company with good HD service through a cable box, you can save $1200 and get essentially the same performance with the ATSC-tunerless SWX version; $4099 for this level of big-screen performance is quite reasonable, in my opinion.
I'm sure you can buy greater detail and sharpness from some very expensive plasmas, along with freedom from CRT screen flicker, but you'll be giving up the rich blacks and improved low-level detail you can get here for much less money. While some companies are using lower-quality parts in their RPTVs to make them more competitive in a price-driven market, it seems that Hitachi isn't—and they make all the critical display components themselves.
There are 65-inch RPTVs out there that cost less than the Hitachi Ultravision 65XWX20B, but I doubt any can surpass its overall performance once it's been properly calibrated. In fact, I bought the review sample. After the calibration, my neighbor, Fred, dropped by again. He bought one too.