Hitachi 32LD6600 £700

31st Aug 2006 | 23:00

Does a cheaper price mean better value? Not always

TechRadar rating:

2 stars

Exacts too much of a compromise on performance to be truly considered a bargain

Like:

<p>Price</p><p>Fair connectivity</p><p>Looks decent</p>

Dislike:

<p>Some aspects of picture quality</p><p>no digital tuner</p>

We're not quite sure how, but Hitachi has actually managed to flog a 32in LCD TV, the 32LD6600, for just £699. But how much quality has had to be sacrificed to make such a price possible?

There's nothing particularly 'budget' about its looks, at least, as a rich, black finish joins forces with a robust build quality to 'reassuringly expensive' effect.

There's no serious budgetinduced stinginess in the 32LD6600's connections, either. The key HD Ready essentials of HDMI and component video jacks are present and correct, plus you get a D-Sub PC input and a pair of RGB Scarts.

We need to kick off a breakdown of the TV's features, though, with something the 32LD6600 notably lacks: a built-in digital tuner. In fact there aren't many things of interest the set does have, unless for some reason you get excited by a switchable 3D Comb Filter and a 3D Surround audio circuit.

Without getting too hung up on this lack of bells and whistles, it's worth saying that it's hardly a surprising situation for such a budget set, and won't bother us much at all so long as the TV's pictures look okay.

Pity then that its pictures don't look very okay at all. Kicking off a host of unpleasantries is a really quite poor black level performance that fi nds dark parts of the picture frequently overwhelmed by the greyness that always betrays lowcontrast screens. Not surprisingly, this greyness also means the picture lacks background detail and, as a result, has no sense of depth or scale.

Perhaps even more alarming are the 32LD6600's colours. There are all manner of weird tones around, and the vibrancy gap between the richest and subtlest hues is freakishly extreme, making for a very unbalanced overall look. Even bright whites, usually an LCD strength, here look slightly 'sick'.

Yet more bad news comes from the 32LD6600's sharpness - or rather lack thereof. Standard-definition sources tend to look really quite soft, and even high-definition pictures don't look as textured or defined as they should. Not helping here is the presence of some quite overt smearing over motion, especially during standard-definition viewing.

Are there any good things to say about the 32LD6600's pictures? Only that there's not much grain or dot crawl around, and that the picture is quite bright. In practically every other way, though, the 32LD6600's pictures just aren't up to snuff. Much more in line with what we expect of a 2006 LCD TV is the 32LD6600's sound. There isn't the same bass or treble extension seen on the very best-sounding fl at TVs, but the action always sounds clear and the soundstage is wide and free of harshness.

We're always on the lookout for a snip. However, in the case of the 32LD6600, despite its extraordinarily low price ticket, it exacts too much of a compromise on performance to be truly considered a bargain.

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