When a television with cutting edge technology and exquisite design is set up in our test centre for review, we all hold our breath hoping and praying that it won't disappoint. This is because on many occasions, such products have failed to live up to the hype.
- Excellent Display, Enormous number of input options, image reader modes, attractive design
- Average composite mode.
This is one of the best TVs we have seen in the office and is easily equal to the Sony Bravia and Sharp Aquos.
Price$ 4,999.00 (AUD)
Sometimes, almost rarely, a television makes our heart skip a beat. The Hitachi 37LD8800TA is a flawless blend of technology and design that works phenomenally well. The quality of this panel has very few competitors and Hitachi knows it. The price tag reflects the quality and even though it is rather expensive when compared to other units on the market, we feel it is worth every penny.
Unpacking the Hitachi is an arduous process. It comes with an electronic swivel base which takes about half hour to set up properly. All the required tools are provided though, so it's no real hassle and once done, the pay off is enormous. We hate to use the word "impressive" too much at GoodGearGuide but it can't be helped when you see the electronic swivel in action. With a press of a button the whole panel can be angled left and right, silently and imposingly.
The amount of connections on this unit is also a sight to behold. It has two HDMI slots, two component inputs, two composite, a digital tuner, RCA audio, an SD card reader and USB host slot for viewing images from a digital camera and both video and audio out. The input connections are located at the rear of the unit and on the right side of the outer case.
It can almost break your heart to see a remarkable looking TV go to waste with a below average panel, so the elation we felt while testing the 8800TA was a welcome change. We ran tests in every input mode and apart from the expected flaws in composite mode; the Hitachi not only passed the tests, but hit them out of the ballpark.
To test the RGB mode we connected a PC to the panel via a D-Sub cable since there is no DVI connection on this model. The native resolution of 1366x768 looked flawless with excellent colour reproduction and clearly defined text with no distortion. However, pushing the resolution above its native level, while supported, creates a mess of stretched pixels and numerous image inaccuracies. This isn't surprising though, nor is it a flaw.
The panel displays at 500 cd/m2 luminance with an 800:1 contrast ratio all performing at a speedy 9 millisecond LCD response time (grey to grey). The contrast ratio is ample, allowing a good blend of dark and light colours while at the same time, the panel won't burn your retinas by being too bright. We ran the display with a video game to check from low response time ghosting and are happy to report there was none to speak of. It seems Hitachi has put a great deal of care into making a LCD TV that delivers.
In VGA mode we used DisplayMate Video Edition to run the panel through its paces and assaulted it with all manner of hardcore tests. In nearly all our DisplayMate tests the Hitachi performed exquisitely and effortlessly. It easily passed the geometry and distortion sections as well as the sharpness and resolution tasks and had no problem dealing with the ghosting and streaking tests. However, in the block colour tests there was a faint line of noise on the edge of the low blue registers and similar noise on the Magenta on Green and Blue on Red colour combination tests. In the colour gradient tests there was slight signal degradation in the darker areas of the grayscale test pattern, most like a product of the contrast ratio.
We tested the Component input using the Xbox 360 gaming console. We noticed fairly uniform colour reproduction across the panel but were slightly dismayed to discover a little noise in some of the lighter areas. Keep in mind though, that from a comfortable viewing distance most, if not all, of these problems become a non-issue. We also found that the panel was also stellar at handling flesh tones in this display mode and were pleased at the richness of the colour and the detail of the blacks.
The HDMI input was almost flawless and passed most of our Digital Video Essentials DVD tests. However, it fell down in the dark gray areas of various SMPTE patterns as the panel produced a fair amount of undue noise. However, this isnt too bad and doesnt translate noticably to the overall picture playback in HDMI mode. For the most part, the HDMI support was very good and while its not perfect, it's still much better than most.
As with most LCD TVs, the composite mode was average and rife with visual artifacts, picture abnormalities and inaccurate pixel draw. This wasn't as problematic in S-Video but it was still a noticeable downgrade. We also tested the various image input ports, the USB and card reader ports both performed well with an easy to use on screen thumbnail system for easy viewing. This is a great addition to an already superb display panel.
The Hitachi 8800TA also comes with speakers that do a reasonable job for most audio. A much greater cinematic experience can be had by connecting the Hitachi to a surround sound system and to not do so is criminal. A TV of this caliber deserves adequate sound. However, if you are not home theatre minded, we won't hold it against you.
The 178 degree viewing angle is was more than adequate for most living room seating and the TV tuner works as expected. The high grade Hitachi 37LC8800TA was incredible in many ways, and only let down in so few that it has justified its place among other sets like the Sony Bravia and the Sharp Aquos LC32AX3X. If nothing else, the swivel base is a thing to behold. People will sit in awe and beg you to swivel it one more time, ignoring the high quality of the display in favour of the mesmerizing base. While the swivel base is not an innovation (there have been swivel TVs before) It is still quite cool.
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