Hitachi 37LD6600 £1500
31st May 2006 | 23:00
As prices drop, choice continues to widen
The price you'll pay for one of these 37in screens would only have bought you a 32in model a couple of months ago, such is the speed of change with flatscreens.
Black is the new silver as far as I'm concerned, and Hitachi wears it well - especially when it's set off so swishly by the silver outer trim. The stand's a bit clunky, though, and the huge HD Ready logo in the bottom left corner is decidedly OTT.
Connectivity can be considered fair, with the highlight being an HDMI input and component video for digital and analogue HD connection respectively. There's also a PC input and a subwoofer (which shaves some bottom off the standard stereo signal); there's also two Scart sockets, and both are RGB enabled.
The 37LD6600's panel specifi cations look reasonably promising, with a native resolution of 1366 x 768, a claimed panel brightness of 500cd/m2, and a claimed contrast ratio of 800:1.
Predictably - albeit not surprising given the set's lowly price tag - to find no digital TV tuner built in. Also conspicuous by its absence is Hitachi's Picture Master image processing system.
The 37LD6600 uses an In-Plane Switching panel, which typically results in enhanced viewing angles (horizontally and vertically) and minimal gray-scale inversion.
The onscreen menus are pretty well-stocked, with highlights including multi-level noise reduction, picture in picture options, an optional 3D comb filter, a Film Mode, and a bass booster.
In action the 37LD6600 performs credibly without setting new standards. Its strongest single point is the richness of its colour performance, which combine deep, satisfying saturations with a likeably natural tone. This means, that skin tones hold up better than on most budget rivals, while full-on hues avoid that all to familiar slightly cartoonish look.
Black levels are reasonable, getting deep enough to give dark film scenes a sense of depth. As with all LCDs, subjective black level depends on the level of ambient light in the room. The lower the light, the worse the black level looks.
Picture Master processing is certainly missed in one key department, though: sharpness. The image is noticeably less detailed than that of the 32LD7200, especially when watching standarddefi nition video. The image also seems less stable, perhaps due to there being more noise and horizontal motion stutter around.
Sonically the 37LD6600 is accomplished - especially when it comes to the amount of bass on hand to fl esh out explosive scenes like the battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan. My only concern is that vocals can sound rather thick.
All in all, while not perfect, the Hitachi 37LD6600 delivers rather more quality than I would have expected for its meagre price ticket. John Archer