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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hitachi 50VS810

For the last couple of years, manufacturers have been striving to make their TVs look wider, flatter, and slimmer--in short, more like plasmas. The all-picture style is alive and well with the Hitachi 50VS810, which looks, from the front at least, almost exactly the same as the company's plasma sets. Go around to the side, however, and you'll see it's not exactly ready for wall mounting. While we loved its classy look and boatloads of features, its image quality, while very good, doesn't quite match that of competing microdisplays. That said, its excellent out-of-the-box settings will definitely appeal to people who don't want to spring for professional calibration, especially those who see rainbows with DLP sets.

The Hitachi 50VS810 offers similar performance to that of the 50V500 from last year, although the new reflective screen does hamper image fidelity when the lights are on. The VS810's main strengths are excellent out-of the-box settings (its precalibration picture is much more accurate than that of the Sony KDF-50WE655, for example) and plenty of control over the picture. Its weaknesses, especially compared to competing DLP-based sets such as the Samsung HL-P5085W, are lighter blacks and the screen-door effect. DLP technology, in particular, has improved since last year, so we gave the VS810 a lower performance mark than we did its predecessor.

When sitting closer than about eight feet to the 50VS810, we noticed signs of a screen-door effect--the result of being able to discern the spaces between pixels. For example, when the crew was exploring the planet's surface, what looked like a very faint grid appeared over the flashlight-lit background behind Captain Dallas. We didn't notice the grid from further back, and neither the JVC HD-52Z525 nor the Samsung evinced this effect.

A couple of other differences emerged when we compared the Hitachi to the JVC and the Samsung. The 50VS810 displayed less color uniformity across the screen. For example, we saw very faint discolorations in shots of cloudy skies. And while the Hitachi's geometry and convergence were excellent, with straighter lines than the other sets' and none of the fringing that marred the JVC's picture--we noticed that the entire image shrank and expanded as the picture content changed from light to dark and back. Bright areas left curious afterimages; for example, the cloudy ball from the THX intro left a reddish spot against the black background after it exploded.

HDTV looked excellent overall, with great detail and color saturation. When we watched the montage of images from the Digital Video Essentials DVD via 720p, we enjoyed superb color in the garish clothes of some frolicking kids and could see every link in a chain on a ferry across New York Harbor. With both HDMI and component video, our Accupel signal generator indicated that the set resolved more detail than the Samsung at 720p and 1080i and about as much as the JVC.

Source: cnet

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