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Although Hitachi has long been first and foremost a plasma supporter, it's made some very nice LCD TVs in the past. So here's hoping the new 37in L37X01 can continue the trend - especially as the X in its name shows it to be a member of Hitachi's top-end LCD series.
Aesthetically it's reasonably opulent looking, thanks to the way a very glossy black finish is applied to an unusually robust chassis. It's a shame, though, that there aren't a few more curves and flourishes to make it stand out from the crowd more. Plus it's worth noting in these slender-obsessed times that the L37X01's rear end sticks out rather a long way by today's LCD standards. Helping make this relatively big butt more palatable, though, is the fact that the screen sits on a powered swivel stand controllable via remote.
Connectivity is really quite outstanding. Three HDMIs lead the way (two on the rear and one down the side), along with the inevitable component video input to secure the TV HD Ready status. Plus you get all the usual standard-def video options (including three SCARTs), a subwoofer line-out, a digital audio output and, very unusually, both a USB input and an SD card slot. As you'd expect, the idea behind both of these latter jacks is that you can watch your digital photos directly from a USB-connected camera, a USB storage device, or an SD or MMC card.
It's worth noting about the HDMIs, too, that they're v1.3 affairs compatible with all the potential extra functionality the v1.3 spec makes possible (Deep Colour, auto lip synch correction etc). What's more, the TV can also use the HDMIs to receive the 1080p/24fps video format increasingly finding favour since it became the standard format for mastering films to HD discs.
Before we start delving into the L37X01's onscreen menus, it's worth running a few of the screen's claimed specifications by you, as they mostly make for pretty impressive reading. For instance, the native panel resolution is a ‘full HD' 1,920 x 1,080, while contrast is quoted at a very respectable 8,000:1 using a dynamic contrast system which dims the backlight output when dark scenes are detected. The panel's ‘native' contrast ratio is stated to be a rather more modest 900:1, but this is more or less in line with similar native figures quoted by the few brands honest enough to provide them.
Brightness is higher than is customary at 530cd/m2 too, and the panel design employs In-Plane Switching technology to deliver a wider genuine viewing angle. Last but not least the set proudly carries the full iteration of Hitachi's latest image processing suite. Which is to say it's got the Picture Master Full HD system, and something called Movie Frame Rate Conversion (Movie FRC).