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Other key functionality associated with the TV's HDD recording feature includes the provision of two digital tuners so you can record one digital channel while watching another, and the abilities to pause and ‘chase' live TV. Plus, of course, you can set recordings using the Freeview 7-day electronic programme guide.
However, we were a bit disappointed to find that despite having a built-in HDD and twin Freeview tuners, the P50XR01 is not a fully fledged ‘Freeview Playback' TV. It lacks some of the user system sophistication and, sadly, the Series Link functionality that Freeview Playback brings to the table. Incidentally, we'll be reviewing the UK's first proper Freeview Playback TV, the LG 42LT75, in the near future. So watch this space.
Despite not having all the Freeview Playback bells and whistles, though, the recording system certainly isn't difficult to use, thanks in particular to a well-designed remote control and some well organised onscreen menus. It could be argued that some of the features within these menus are a bit techie for your average consumer. But if you're a technophobe, just follow the basic rule of only touching features you understand, and you should be OK!
After Hitachi's rather feature-lite L42VP01 LCD TV we looked at a couple of weeks back, it's nice to find the P50XR01 sporting some pretty heavy-duty image processing. The most significant element of this is Hitachi's proprietary Picture Master HD system, which includes 16-bit colour recognition for more authentic skin tones and greater surface definition; a ‘twin dynamic enhancer' that improves the reproduction of shiny image elements like, let's say, Christmas baubles; and noise reduction routines focussing on removing background fuzz.
One other potentially key processing element is Hitachi's new Movie FRC system. The FRC bit stands for Frame Rate Conversion, which gives you a clue to the fact that it's designed to do a better job of converting film sources, with their original 24fps frame rate, into something a TV can show.
Of course, any TV that claims 1080p/24fps compatibility will apply some sort of processing to such sources before showing them. But whereas most TVs simply use a frame repetition process to convert 24fps footage into 50Hz or 60Hz, the P50XR01 actually follows the trajectory of any movement in a frame and inserts new frames calculated to ‘fill in the picture gap' between one original 24fps frame and the next. This should, in theory, do away with the common judder problem that TVs can suffer when showing 1080p/24 sources.