In case you’re wondering, no, we haven’t made a typing error. Hitachi’s 42PD6600 really is a 42in plasma TV that can be yours for as little as £1,200. In other words, it costs the same as most 32in LCDs, but delivers a massive 10in more of flat-panel picture loveliness. Crikey. To say this Hitachi has got our attention would be something of an understatement.
It’s got the looks to keep our attention, too. Usually budget 42in plasmas (for yes, remarkably one or two other screens have managed similar price points) are just boring, plasticky silver rectangles. But this Hitachi looks both solidly built and actually quite stylish in its take-no-prisoners black livery.
Connectivity is a relief, too, in that there’s been no price-induced compromising on the high definition front; both HDMI and component HD options are present and correct. There are three Scarts too, when many ultra-budget TVs only bother with two, not to mention a D-Sub PC connection, and even a subwoofer line out if the bass from the built-in speakers fails to satisfy your low-end lust!
Checking out the screen’s quoted specifications quickly throws up a seeming anomaly: a native resolution of 1,024 x 1,024. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that if this resolution is correct, the 42PD6600 should be completely square. Yet we can assure you that it’s definitely a widescreen TV. So what gives?
The answer lies with AliS – or ‘Alternate Lighting of Surfaces’ to give it its full title. ALiS is a technology developed by Hitachi and Fujitsu that works – without getting too technical on you – like this.
Whereas most ‘normal’ plasma TVs have a single strip of electrodes for each horizontal line of plasma cells, AliS panels share an electrode strip between two lines of cells. These lines then switch on and off thousands of times per second, so that at any moment in time only half of the panel’s pixels are actually active. This means that a) ALIS panels have less of their physical space taken up by electrode strips (which show up as black lines on a normal plasma if you stick your head right up to the glass); b) there’s a greater phosphor area to be illuminated; and c) the so-called ‘aperture ratio’ that light emerges through is increased by 55 per cent