While Hitachi's UT42MX70 might not be the first of the new generation of ‘mega thin' flat-panel TVs through our doors, it's definitely the thinnest. It's just 35mm deep across its entire rear end, compared with the 90-110mm depths found on normal flat - now to be known as fat - TVs.
Regular readers may remember our review of JVC's 42DS9 - the very first really thin LCD TV with a bezel only 34mm deep - a whole 1mm less than the UT42MX70. But actually, while the JVC's depth really was marginally thinner than that of the new Hitachi over around two-thirds of its body, there was a rather significant section in the 42DS9's middle where the girth suddenly expanded to a relatively hefty 74mm. The UT42MX70, however, has no such ‘spare tyre' to worry about, allowing it to generate an achingly gorgeous, almost ethereal impact as you walk around it.
The groundbreaking skinniness of the UT42MX70 has been achieved with the help of a cluster of key technological innovations. For starters, the LCD layers in the screen have been made more compact. Also various components have been replaced by chipsets, the power supply unit has been reduced to barely a third of the size of normal flat TV power supplies, and the ventilation system has been completely redesigned to improve heat dissipation and improve air-flow.
There's one other rather important reason why the UT42MX70 can be so slim - it doesn't have a tuner. If you're surprised by this, you really shouldn't be. For the fact is that tuners are remarkably bulky things - indeed, it was the tuner that forced JVC's 42DS9 to jut out more over its central third.
Obviously, though, not having a tuner makes the UT42MX70 a slightly complex proposition for your average TV buyer. For, starters, if you want to get pictures into the screen, you're going to have to depend on an external video source, such as a Sky HD or Freesat receiver.
This isn't too troublesome, I guess, but adding a further layer of complication is the rather surprising fact that the UT42MX70 only has a single HDMI socket for video duties. Yikes.
On reflection, however, this apparent dearth of video connections isn't quite as crazy as it initially sounds, for two reasons. First, a TV so outrageously minimal really doesn't want to have its sultry good looks spoiled by spools of cables hanging out of its bum.
Second, being able to make do with just a single cable running between your sources and the screen is a much more likely scenario for the AV installation market Hitachi openly admits it's targeting with the UT42MX70. After all, if the screens are merely the video centrepieces of wider AV systems, it's very likely that their owners will be able to ‘route' video sources through, say, an external HDMI switchbox or an AV receiver.