We bought this television for our living room when the old block finally packed in. It was the first time we'd gone for one of these brand new flat-screen plasma televisions and is still currently the only one in our house of its kind. Dad has always believed that spending as much as possible on technology works out better in the long run, and although I often dispute this (especially with phones, which seem to get replaced faster than shoes these days!), I can see that this television has lasted the last few years well. It has proved great for having friends over to watch DVDs, which as you might know, I love to review!
Set up and Connections
It was fairly easy to set up and use, although I admit I left the setting up to dad. But he's famous for technical disasters so that must be a good thing. Once you know what you're doing, the connections are also very easy to use. Just one thing.. be careful with laptops, as connecting them
wrongly can damage them as well as cause some confusion.
We don't actually have a DVD player so we connect up our laptops to the computer using the ports provided and our own leads for connecting a monitor to a computer and sound speakers. It works really easily and the picture from the computer onto TV screen is not bad.
There is a way around anything these days.
We've also had lots of those dreaded photo-album shows on telly since we bought it, and as there is an SD card slot in the television, this has made it even easier to do. I think my sister prefers to just connect up her computer or camera, which can also be done, but the SD card must be simpler. Not all the pictures seem to show on the screen, so there may be some issues with formats or file sizes that are worth considering, but we have not been able to work out what the problem is. It all seems a bit too complicated for me!
Aesthetics and Durability
The sleek design of this television certainly is a lot more attractive than the previous occupant in our living room, especially with the silver side panel speakers. Our old TV was fat and starting to look dated the screen size was only 37" but took up more room than the new flat screen. I protested against the size of this new TV. saying it would make our living room look too small and probably not fit against the wall. Funnily enough, our living room looks about the same with more carpet space and the window is no longer blocked the bulky blackness, so actually it looks ok. I still think a smaller screen would be just as good, but I suppose there is a novelty in practically having a little cinema in your living room.
My other worry is how fragile this thing looks. It's not that easy to turn to get around the back (to plug something in, for instance) and I am a tad overweight and terrified to knock it over. It has wobbled a couple of times on its stand. The TV was originally balanced on the old TV stand, which was quite small and perhaps not ideal. We have now bought new furniture and it is on a large sturdy cabinet, yet still it makes me nervous!
We have noticed that the picture can be affected by brief knocks and wobbles, but so far this has not caused any ongoing damage. I don't think we'd be so comfortable having this precious device if we had highly active kids or pets about.
Hitachi have not compromised quality for size. There are three options for the type of view you get - 'natural', 'dynamic' and 'cinema'. You can guess that natural has no enhancements and just looks like your average TV, probably there for you to compare how great your telly is or for some nostalgia! The Dynamic setting is a tad on the bright side but it strengthens the colour - personally I don't like it but this is a matter of taste rather than quality. Cinema is not quite as bright but improves the colour and brightness as well as sharpening the view. This is my favourite setting, but probably not one to use all the time if you want it to feel special. Basically, whichever you prefer, the picture and detail is easily visible from quite a distance, say if you are in a large room. The TV is ideal for larger numbers of people viewing. We do have some problems at the brightest times of day with sunlight on the screen, but ordinary daylight conditions are not so bad, in comparison to our old telly. I don't know if there is much that can be done for extreme brightness technologically, but for now I'm happy to just close the curtains in the late afternoon.
The telly is HD ready but we generally only use the standard definition channels and this will probably be the case for a while yet. However, I can't really see a need to improve the picture any further, and I can't imagine how much better HD is anyway. Perhaps some day we will need to try, but it is not something we're prepared to fork out extra for when we are already satisfied with what we have.
We did notice that for a few months we had problems with the screen blacking out for a second or two every 20 minutes or so. This seems not to be happening anymore, although we have not had any repairs done. It has never been bad enough to affect whatever we were watching, cause us to miss something important or be put off, but I can understand why this may deter some buyers as it can be a nuisance if it is an ongoing problem. Unfortunately we have no idea what caused this as it has now stopped happening, but it may be worth taking note of.
I wouldn't say the sound quality was fantastic but it is not bad. I'd probably prefer to invest in some more speakers for surround sound, or have kept our old ones, which went out with the telly. We tend to keep the volume as low as possible but it's not so easy to do with this one. However, we've not had any problems with the sound so far that cannot be blamed on reception or something else, so it is acceptable, just not as good as it sounded as advertised. The other odd thing is that it is hard to find a comfortable sound setting that is perfectly audible even when people mumble on telly yet will not disturb the neighbours. This can be a pain with intense dramas and horror movies when sound is key, but for everything else it is not a noticeable issue. I would rather not have the telly on loud as I value my eardrums, so we just use the low settings and only occasionally turn it up. Luckily, loud really does sound impressive. I guess this is not really meant to be a quiet telly!
With an inbuilt digital tuner, you can save on having to connect up other devices, but I don't think it comes with Freeview, or at least if it does we have not been able to set it up. However, with currently have a subscription package anyway, which works nicely with this telly and we can still hop back to the basic 5 if there are problems with the Satellite dish. Also it is good to know we won't have to worry about the 'big switchover' that always seems to be imminent.
I have barely looked at the great big fat A4 book included that is the user handbook/manual thing. Oh, my God. I am hopeless with these things. I know the basics, I just want something I can refer to easily, to quickly find what I need to know and without too much technical jargon. In my opinion this thing could have been written for an engineer. I tried to look a few things up, for instance when we originally connected up the DVD player. It is actually a simple job, but it took us about 2 hours going through this thing trying to figure out just where the right information is. The diagrams are clearly labelled and fairly helpful however. But there is far too much in technical jargon when at least each chapter could introduce to us what it intends to tell us. I have to admit we haven't had to consult the book more than a couple of times but it has put me off trying out all the features that are probably available and worth a go for fear of doing something wrong.
My overall impression of this tv so far is good. Better suited in larger rooms, but does not take up tons of space. It works well, serves its purpose, is fashionable, attractive, has extra quality features and at a fair price is a worthwhile buy. There are probably other features I haven't really commented on because we don't know enough about it, or don't really use all the features, so it might be worth pointing out that there seems to be a lot more to this tv than most people need!