The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

32″ HDTV – Hitachi 32HDL52

Posted by Deliverator on January 3rd, 2006

The major gift at the Marsh household this year was a 32″ HDTV. It is a Hitachi, model 32HDL52. My dad has been itching to get a big screen for quite a while (major understatement). At his behest, I spent a lot of time reading reviews, prowling various forums and picking brains over at Magnolia HiFi (sorry, I can’t bring myself to call it Magnolia Audio Video). Despite all the “due dillegence” work, my father ended up making an unresearched impulse buy while at Circuit City, based largely on picture quality. I did at least make sure that the unit featured a ATSC (over the air) HDTV tuner, a plethera of video inputs and various other features, but I didn’t get the chance to do the slightest bit of research. All in all, this is a very nice unit with excellent image quality. For a LCD, it produces remarkeably deep blacks, has very few image artifacts, has impressive off-angle viewing and doesn’t seem to suffer from much (if any) motion blur problems. The unit features a motorized pedestal mount that allows one to rotate the display using the remote control, should you want to view the TV from another location in the room. This is a very neat feature and one that I hope becomes more readily available. I do have a few caveats that may limit this unit’s appeal for certain types of home theater enthusiasts.

– While the display itself is first rate, the remote control feels cheap and has poor quality, small round chicklet buttons for many major functions. The remote is not ergonomic in the least and one has to constantly shift ones hands to access major functions. Because of the often uniformly sized keys, one needs to glance at the remote to choose the appropriate key. As the keys are not backlit, one pretty much needs to keep a light on to use the tv, which really spoils the whole “home theater” experience. I would definitely recommend a good programable remote if you want to use this TV.

– Only certain video inputs can be displayed in combination using the picture in picture and splitscreen views.

– No Cable-Card or HDMI inputs.

– Analog RGB and DVI-D inputs are a plus, but it appears that the RGB input will only display at very specific resolutions and vertical/horizontal refresh rates combinations. The display will supposedly sync to a number of resolutions between 640*480 at the low end to 1280*768 (actual native resolution of the display is 1366*768) at the high end, I could not get it to sync to ANY of the resolution/refresh rate combos offered by the VGA output of my current VIA EPIA based media PC. I will try playing with the DVI input tomorrow, but this unit may be a poor choice for hooking up to a PC. If they weren’t going after the PC market, why not throw some HDMI connectors on and go after the home-theater crowd? They even went to the trouble of including a very high quality VGA cable in the box.

– The HDTV tuner takes a LONG time to do its initial channel scan and didn’t find several of the major channels in my area, despite a strong signal. I had to add these channels manually. My brother’s 56″ Samsung DLP on the other hand took hardly any time to set up and detected all channels in his area, whether it could get a good picture from them or not.

– The “Operating Guide” is a poorly written joke. I honestly nearly returned the TV because it would not power on when I pressed the power button on either the remote or the TV itself. The manual made no mention of the fact that there is a hidden, recessed main power button located out of sight on the bottom side of the LCD. My dad found it by accident after I had already placed several irate calls to Circuit City. Not only do none of the diagrams show this switch, but the manual mentions several times to just push the power button on the right side of the screen to turn the unit on/off. The manual isn’t even an “all your base” style bad translation. It is just plain bad.

All in all, this unit has a great picture and some unique features, but is lacking the “total package” feel that it really needs, especially given that it is priced unfavorably compared to many other, more feature rich units in the 32-37″ range.