* Prices may differ from that shown
In order to reduce the speed that my living room was sinking, beneath the mud that is my front garden, under the weight of my old 32" Mitsubishi CRT widescreen television. I decided it might be an idea to replace it with something a little lighter. To this end I chose the Hitachi L32H01, an HD-ready 720p/1080i 32" widescreen LCD panel. This model features both Freeview digital and analogue tuners that allowed me to use my old set top box with my SCART-enabled portable television in order to extend its life beyond the digital switchover. The built-in Freeview tuner is equipped with full red-button functionality for those interactive hidden programmes on various channels, as well as both now and next digital schedule that can be reviewed while still watching the current channel in the top right quarter of the screen and a 5-day electronic programme guide EPG.
The back and right-hand side of the TV boasts a multitude of various video connections including, both two HDMI and two SCART sockets as well as the composite video (video and stereo sound on 3 phono sockets) to connect your usual video sources, Sky/Cable box, VHS and DVD player/recorder. In addition, I was surprised that it was also possible to connect my NTSC standard American DVD player, equipped only with component video and audio outputs, requiring connection with 5 phono sockets, directly to the TV. The television also has both S-video and VGA computer connections that I use for my personal computer that I have equipped with a twin-output graphics card that allows me to surf the internet on the TV screen and stream media from internet television.
In spite of the fact that you would not think there were any room for speakers worth the name within the confines of this television's slim design it produces a rich and full sound at even quite loud volumes. The viewing results are great for all the non-upscaled video sources I have tried, including my cable service box and American DVD player. Even more impressive are the results I get from my newly-acquired upscaling DVD recorder connected one of the TVs 2 HDMI sockets that currently has me re-watching many of my DVDs to see the improvement over playing them with my old DVD player.
I have noticed, on some live TV programmes, from time to time that the depth of field and the focus on some programmes a little lacking. I am not sure whether these effects are simply a reaction by my eyes to this new visual experience. It reminds me of my watching experience after the addition of NICAM stereo sound. TV programme makers had to reign-in the volume of those "background" sound like birds tweeting and other atmospheric sound effects once they had discovered the efficiency that the new generation of TVs made of these sound enhancements. With the passage of time, new HD-friendly programming will be created and legacy programmes will not figure as much in the schedules.
In conclusion, I have found the Hitachi L32H01 to be an excellent first foray into the HD ready LCD television world without the need to bankrupt myself priced as they are between £350 and £400 in January 2009. As with most new technology products I feel your patience not to buy into the very latest full HD and largest LCD panels until you have experimented at the lower end of the price scale will be rewarded. When you discover what you want/like to feature in your next purchase in the future then these higher specification televisions will be priced markedly lower when you finally decide to upgrade.