At Hitachi’s annual new product gig, the company showcased this season’s latest TVs, focused mostly on LCD, though a few plasma, micro display and even a couple of CRTs made an appearance. In its premium director series line, Hitachi showed 37- and 32-inch LCD models ($2,799 and $2,499), featuring a new 120Hz panel, which improves motion response and black levels over 60Hz panels. It also allows for improved off-axis viewing, enhanced by the company’s Super In-plane switching technology. All models include 3 HDMI inputs, RS-232 for control systems and a new 16-bit video processing called Picture Master HD.
In plasma the top products consisted of 42- and 55-inch models ($3499 and $5,299) featuring 1024 x 1080i resolution using the ALIS technology proprietary to Hitachi and Fujitsu. A 55-inch 1080p prototype was demonstrated, though a 1080p model won’t be available in the US until sometime in 2007.
Hitachi’s rear projection micro display offerings were all based on LCD chips, and included 50-, 55- and 60-inch models at astounding $1,799, $2,299 and $2,699 prices. They featured new bottom mounted speakers and very slim bezel designs. But the real interesting news for rear projection was what may be CRT’s last gasp in the big screen market. Showing 51-, 57-, and 61-inch models (based on 7-inch tubes), priced from $999 to $1,499, Hitachi’s the last premium brand to offer CRT rear projection. In keeping with the FCC tuner mandate, these will include ATSC DTV tuners (480i, not HDTV), but no CableCARD access. The decision to offer an DTV tuner, rather than an HDTV tuner was based on price and the fact that most people get their HDTV content from a set-top-box anyway--the TVs will display HDTV from an HD source. A company spokesperson suggested this may be the last year Hitachi offers CRT rear projection.