It claims a remarkable contrast ratio of 7000:1, and it's beautifully designed to boot. But is the award-winning Hitachi's LCD-based PJTX200 still a top performer?
We're always suckers for well-placed curves here at Home Cinema Choice - especially when those curves are accessorised, as they are on Hitachi's PJ-TX200, by an opulent high-gloss finish, extravagant grilles and an elegant colour scheme.
The projector's connections are solid enough, featuring the de rigeur HDMI and component jacks for high-definition duties, plus a PC jack, the usual S-video/composite video stuff, and a 12V trigger jack.
The TX200's LCD panels deliver a 1280 x 720 native resolution and, according to Hitachi's specifications, a contrast ratio of 7000:1. This is achieved via a dynamic iris system, whereby the projector continually assesses the content of the source image, and adjusts how much light the iris lets out accordingly. Note that while it's not exactly a 'cheat' method, this system means you'll only get even close to the 7000:1 contrast ratio maximum by sacrificing quite a bit of brightness during dark scenes.
The lens arrangement Hitachi has used for the TX200 is a so-called Super ED array, consisting of four ultra-low dispersion and aspherical lenses. This system allegedly delivers exceptional colour toning and fine detail, as well as, hopefully, reducing the appearance of the grid-like 'chicken wire effect' witnessed on many lesser LCD projectors.
Also worth a mention is an impressive selection of gamma and iris adjustments, together with 10-bit digital image processing delivering a claimed 1.07 billion colours. Who's counting, though?
For me the TX200 is the finest affordable HD Ready LCD projector available. For starters, by LCD standards its black level really is outstanding. With the auto iris function active, dark scenes suffer far less with the greying over, flatness and lack of detail common to LCD projectors.
Colours, meanwhile, also outstrip practically every other LCD projector we've seen. They combine the extreme vibrancy and brightness common to LCD with a naturalism and subtlety of tone that's anything but common to LCD.
LCD can usually be depended on for providing plenty of sharpness and fi ne detailing, and the TX200 certainly doesn't disappoint. The clarity and texture evident in a Sky HD broadcast, for example, is done exceptional justice by the TX200, as every last detail is resolved without serious accompanying dot crawl or grain. The TX200's sharpness makes it arguably the finest PC machine here, too.
What's more, the TX200's sharpness is achieved even while its lens arrangement does a mostly excellent job of suppressing LCD's pixel grid structure.
The downsides to the TX200 only become apparent in the company of the two excellent DLP models in this grouptest, as they both enjoy deeper, richer black level than even this Hitachi, as well as slightly more expansive, natural colour ranges.
The only other general concern about the TX200 is that using the projector's 'Auto2' iris mode can cause the picture's brightness to leap about quite distractingly. So avoid it!
There's no doubt that the TX200 is one of the finest LCD HD Ready projectors this side of £2k, and well worth considering if you want a machine that's as accomplished with PCs as it is movies. Nice one Hitachi.