Hitachi 42HDS69 42-inch Plasma HDTV Page 3

Unfortunately, this scene also exposed a strange picture flaw. As Ford crosses the lab after talking to Betty (Candus Churchill), the entire scene abruptly got darker for about half a second before returning to normal. It appeared to be caused by a quick change in the scene's overall brightness - as the camera follows Ford, a bright lamp exits the shot - and was distracting enough that I thought it must be a mistake on the disc. But after looking at the same scene on another HDTV and not seeing this effect, I had to chalk it up to the Hitachi. I didn't see this fluctuation again despite watching about half of the film, although it also cropped up in test patterns.

One of Hitachi's main improvements to its plasmas this year is extra vertical resolution. The company claims to have packed all 1080 horizontal lines of a 1080i signal onto the relatively small 42-inch screen and cites the TV's 1,024 x 1,080 pixel grid. Indeed, Firewall on HD DVD looked plenty sharp for a plasma of this size. The wide shot of the buildings during Ford's drive to work, for example, showed well the myriad windows and minute details in the cityscape, and the numerous shots of computer text throughout the film looked similarly well-defined. In reality, however, unless you sit really close and pay extra-close attention, I doubt you'd notice a difference between the sharpness of this plasma and one with a more conventional native resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels. Finally, I did see a little bit of vibration along vertical lines, though for the most part only on static graphics (such as parts of white borders on the HD DVD's menu and the Hitachi's onscreen menus). I haven't seen this on other plasmas, but it was mostly invisible in moving images, so I doubt many viewers will be bothered by it.

BOTTOM LINE In future living rooms sure to teem with ever more digital devices equipped with the highest-quality HDMI outputs, the Hitachi 42HDS69 42-inch plasma HDTV stands as one of the most nearly future-proof displays available today. Its sharp, colorful picture is impressive despite the minor issues I detected, and I really liked its many options for adjusting the image. When you consider its slick styling and affordable price, the 42HDS69 stands out against the plasma competition.

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