The lack of a tuner sounds on paper like a bit of a booboo on Hitachi’s part. But you’d be amazed how bulky tuner modules currently are; in fact, we suspect the UT32MH70 would have had to be at least twice as thick as it is if it had a tuner inside. So Hitachi has made the decision to ditch the tuner and keep the slimness. And given the buzz its slim screens are causing, you can perfectly understand its decision. It’s also worth pointing out that before the end of this year Hitachi is hoping to bring out optional external multimedia/tuner boxes to accompany the Ultra Thin screens.
Finally in the ‘no-tuner’ defence, it seems probable that many of the people likely to consider forking out £900 on a UT32MH70 will already have some external tuner device to feed the screen, such as a Sky HD or Sky+ box.
However, there is one more problem to consider, namely that remarkably the screen only carries a single HDMI input where most flat TVs these days manage at least three.
This HDMI is joined by a PC input and a couple of lower-quality standard def stalwarts. But there’s no disguising the fact that in the current absence of the promised external multimedia/AV box, only providing a single HDMI input will mean that many people will either have to route their video through an HDMI-carrying AV receiver, or buy an external HDMI switchbox.
Thankfully the UT32MH70 is much more ‘AV-friendly’ with its features. For starters, a dynamic contrast system means it can produce a likeable claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1, while its use of IPS Alpha LCD panel technology helps it deliver both an expansive colour range and a noticeably wider watchable viewing angle than some other LCD TVs.
Also potentially hugely significant is Hitachi’s Picture Master FHD image processing engine. In keeping with the image processing systems of most brands these days, Picture Master FHD works on a number of different picture elements. There’s a 16-bit colour recognition application, for instance, designed to produce more believable skin tones and more surface definition. Then there are all sorts of noise reduction routines, 1080p/24 playback, and a rather fancy-sounding twin dynamic enhancer which, prosaically speaking, is designed to make shiny objects look more, well, shiny. Nice.
One slightly surprising element of the UT32MH70’s specification, though, is its native resolution of 1,366 x 768 rather than the Full HD 1920 x 1080 we might have expected from such a cutting-edge model.
And actually this reduced resolution does impact the UT32MH70’s performance. Not enough to stop the UT32MH70 from being a good TV, but enough to persuade me to try and steer you towards this TV’s bigger brother, the Full HD UT42MX70.
What I’m trying to say is that while watching ”Blood Diamond” on Blu-ray, although the picture certainly looks HD, it doesn’t often look as blisteringly sharp and detailed as we’ve seen it on some rival Full HD 32in models.