Connections are up to spec, too, for such an affordable TV. Top billing is taken by two HDMIs, especially as these are able to take in 1080p/24fps feeds from Blu-ray and HD DVD players. Plus you get a D-Sub jack for PC connection, component video inputs for the hooking up for old Xbox 360s and progressive scan DVD players, and all your usual ‘analogue’ basics like SCARTs, S-Video and composite video inputs.
Where the L42VP01’s aggressive price does start to affect things, though, is with its features. We’re used to Hitachi TVs sporting some of the longest features lists in town, but the L42VP01’s is relatively thin on the ground. Probably the single most significant thing it doesn’t have is Hitachi’s Picture Master HD image processing engine, a system that’s really helped pictures out on many previous Hitachi (small screen) LCD and plasma offerings.
You also don’t get access in the picture menus to such arch Hitachi fine-tuning twitchery as LTI improvement, CTI improvement, a 3D Comb Filter and so on. Instead the only even vaguely interesting stuff consists of a straightforward noise reduction system and a film mode for making motion look cleaner during movie as opposed to video sources.
So how does the L42VP01’s performance stack up against Hitachi’s plasmas? Not bad, actually, at least with high definition.
The first thing that struck me during a trudge-through of the latest ”Pirates of the Caribbean” movie on Blu-ray was how immensely sharp and detailed HD images look. Every pixel of that full HD resolution is put to use, leaving Hitachi’s HD Ready 42in plasmas looking a touch soft by comparison.
Colours better those of Hitachi’s plasmas, too, in their subtlety of blend. The L42VP01’s full HD pixel count helps blends appear almost infinitely smooth in their gradations, whereas with Hitachi’s plasma TVs there’s often evidence of banding.
Another string to the L42VP01’s bow is its brightness, as images positively blare off the screen, leaving Hitachi’s plasmas looking like dullards by comparison.
Not that this brightness has been achieved at the expense of any sort of black level quality, though. In fact, the screen’s black levels are deeper and more credible during the darkness of ”Call of Duty 4’s” insanely hard (on Veteran level, anyway) missile silo level than they are on many a more expensive LCD rival. Plasma screens certainly make it even easier to see that last sneaky Russian hiding in the distant shadows waiting to ruin your Veteran dreams for the umpteenth time, but by LCD standards, the L42VP01 is at least respectable.