Hitachi 36SDX88B HD-Ready Multimedia Television Page 2

Regrettably, this level of control doesn't extend to other aspects of the display. For instance, you can save different level settings for a PC input versus a video input, but you can't save different video adjustments between, say, the three video inputs. Likewise, you can't save different settings, other than size and position, for the two PC inputs. This may be a blessing in disguise, since the onscreen menu obscures most of the screen and setting up just one input can be tedious. You have to enter the menu, make an adjustment, exit the menu, view the image, and repeat until the image is correct.

All this work pays off, though, thanks to the set's accurate color decoder and stable black level. Using the functional but less-than-attractive remote, I was able to adjust the display to produce excellent colors. The picture is vibrant yet natural. Then again, for those who like TV actors' faces to look a little pink, a menu adjustment allows you to make the change. Either way, the set's comb filter creates clean borders between colors, with no dot crawl or hanging dots. Black levels are also accurate. Images stay dark, regardless of the brightness of the rest of the image. This contributes greatly to getting a nearly three-dimensional picture. Overall, the picture quality is excellent for both NTSC and video sources.

Video images also benefit from the built-in line doubler. The additional video information makes the image appear smoother, brighter, and much more solid. You might notice some motion artifacts in the image, but you won't find a better picture unless you use an external processor. Fortunately, the TV's PC and component inputs will accept a signal from the exceptional and relatively inexpensive DVDO iScan processor. Regardless of whether you use the internal or an external processor, video images will look great on this display.

The only drawback to the image, and one that may seem a bonus to some, is the effect of scan-velocity modulation (SVM). This is the only feature that we couldn't defeat on the Hitachi set, though we could and did defeat it on the ProScan PS36800. SVM makes white areas of an image slightly brighter at the expense of dark areas, which become thicker. The effect creates an apparent increase in detail by making medium-sized images brighter, although extremely fine resolution remains unchanged. The downside to SVM is an unnatural edge, or ghost, around some objects. Image outlines, such as Robin Williams' nose on the DVD What Dreams May Come, have an extra-hard edge that doesn't appear on the ProScan TV. You have to determine for yourself if you can live with this "enhancement."

My nitpicking aside, the 36SDX88B presents an excellent picture with video, HDTV, and even computer images. The set's features and functions make it the potential centerpiece of a seriously integrated multimedia system. Only the user interface and arguable picture artifacts detract from an otherwise great image. When you consider that this display replaces your computer monitor and your TV, offers HDTV and progressive-scan DVD compatibility, and includes a built-in line doubler, the cost seems minimal. I highly recommend this multimedia monitor.

• Progressive-scan DVD, DTV, and PC compatibility
• Aspect-ratio conversion for DTV and anamorphic DVD

HT Labs Measures: Hitachi 36SDX88B Multimedia TV

The chart above shows the gray scale (or color temperature) of the Hitachi multimedia TV and the actual colors of the display's red, green, and blue phosphors. The gray scale measures roughly 7000 Kelvin out of the box, making the image slightly blue but not horrendously so. After making adjustments using the Photo Research SR-650, the gray scale was nearly perfect at D6500 K. The Hitachi's blue and green phosphor colors perfectly match those specified by SMPTE. The red phosphor is a bit orange.The light output was approximately 18 foot-lamberts, and the display has good DC restoration (or a stable black level). The 36SDX88B has an accurate color decoder and displays at least 450 horizontal lines (per picture height) with NTSC sources. On higher resolution sources, the display should be capable of 800 horizontal pixels.—MW

36SDX88B HD-Ready Multimedia Television