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As the battle between plasma and LCD for our big-screen buck intensifies, you can't help but wonder if the arrival of Hitachi's L42VP01 isn't somehow prophetic of the way the war is going. Why? Because even though Hitachi has long been one of plasma technology's most vocal supporters - to the extent of putting its money where its mouth was barely a year ago by co-financing a pro-plasma marketing campaign with Panasonic and Pioneer - the L42VP01 is a 42in TV that uses LCD rather than plasma technology.
In other words, Hitachi, for whatever reason, has had to swallow its professional AV pride and jump aboard the big (42in and more) LCD bandwagon for the first time. We suspect this ‘reason' has much to do with Joe Public's cash and the amount being spent on LCD rather than plasma technology. But hey, maybe that's just us. Doubtless Hitachi's more face-saving take on the situation would be along the lines that LCD technology has finally advanced to a point where it is capable of delivering the sort of quality big-screen AV performance Hitachi wants to provide.
Anyway, this is all hearsay and speculation. Getting back to the hard facts of the L42VP01's LCD nature, we find its screen containing a full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels; a built-in digital tuner; and an eye-catchingly high claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1, which uses dynamic contrast processing to reduce brightness during dark scenes and so boost black level response. The screen's ‘native' contrast ratio is a considerably more conservative 1,500:1.
It has to be said that these specifications look pretty respectable for what is, after all, Hitachi's debut 42in LCD screen. And they certainly aren't bad given the £720-ish price tag. In fact, some of the numbers we're talking about raise the genuine possibility of this LCD outperforming Hitachi's latest plasma models. Especially, as, um, those plasma models aren't actually all that great…
Aesthetically, the L42VP01 is nothing to write home about. It's just a pretty straightforward black rectangle. At least it's not unnecessarily ostentatious, we guess. And in a move we'd love more manufacturers to follow, it ships with both desktop stand and wall mount fittings in the box.