As anyone who’s ever looked into getting their hands on a truly enormous flat TV knows only too well, such home cinema dream machines don’t come cheap. In fact, stepping above 50in in the flat TV world will usually set you back upwards of seven grand. Yet today we find ourselves confronted by a 55in plasma TV, Hitachi’s 55PD9700, that’s yours for just £2,800. Surely such an extreme-value proposition can’t actually be any good, can it?
It starts well, at least, by looking pretty plush. Its ‘Japan Black’ screen frame is opulently glossy, while the dark silver speakers protruding from either side provide a tasteful contrast. The 55PD9700 even comes on a motorised pedestal stand, allowing you to adjust its angle by 30 degrees left or right via the remote control. Nice.
Unlike many megasized flat screens out there, the 55PD9700 was designed from the ground up for domestic rather than corporate users – something emphatically confirmed by its connections, which include those home cinema essentials of two HDMI inputs, component video inputs, three Scarts, a PC jack and an aerial input. Even better, this aerial input connects to a digital tuner, with further digital connection support coming from a CI slot for adding digital subscription services. And we’re not done with the connectivity yet, as the TV also thoughtfully provides an SD card slot for direct play back of digital photos, and a USB interface where non-SD users can attach a multi-format card reader.
The 55PD9700’s panel comprises 1,366 x 768 pixels, ensuring compliance with the industry’s HD Ready requirements, with other key specifications including a so-so 1000:1 claimed contrast ratio and a promisingly high 1400cd/m2 brightness.
It’s also worth pointing out that the 55PD9700 uses Hitachi/Fujitsu’s e-ALIS technology. This is based on the vanilla ALIS (Alternate Lighting of Surfaces) technology sported by the Hitachi 42PD9700 we tested a few weeks back, in that it seeks to reduce electrode density by sharing one electrode between two scan lines rather than using one electrode for one scan line.