But while the basic ALIS system attempts to do away with visible horizontal ‘blanking lines’ by using unbroken vertical phosphor channels, e-ALIS uses a more sophisticated grid system of phosphors enclosing each separate plasma chamber/pixel – an approach that apparently helps the pixels react more accurately to the picture signal. e-ALIS is also a progressive technology, meaning it shows all the lines of a picture signal simultaneously, whereas ordinary ALIS is a traditional interlaced system. Still with us? Good. Because we’re not done with the high-tech stuff yet…
For instance, the 55PD9700 employs a new, apparently superfast 1080p video processing engine, which upsamples incoming images to 1080i, then converts that picture into a 1080p frame for extra stability and resolution, before converting the 1080p signal again to correspond to the 1,366 x 768 native resolution. Please note, though, that this talk of 1080p processing does not, alas, mean the TV can accept 1080p source signals.
The final key ‘behind the scenes’ trick up the 55PD9700’s sleeve is its Picture Master HD image processing engine, a proprietary Hitachi system that claims to deliver such goodies as faster processing for improved motion handling; full digital image scaling; automatic optimisation right down to pixel level of brightness and gamma levels; a histogram for improving brightness and contrast while also tackling video noise; sharper edges; 12-bit colour processing; and a 3D comb filter.
All this and we haven’t even touched on plentiful ‘front of house’, user-adjustable features the 55PD9700 provides. We haven’t the space – or, honestly, the will at this point! - to cover all these in detail, but we can reveal that highlights include a black level booster, picture in picture tools, separate chroma and luminance noise reduction routines, plus 7-day Electronic Programme Guide support for the digital tuner.
Up to now, absolutely nothing about the 55PD9700 provides an indication of how Hitachi has managed to make the TV so cheap. So we’re frankly fearing the worst about its picture quality.