Hitachi 32LD7200 review

A TV that comes to meet you

Our Verdict

Just a touch of contrast away from delivering the ultimate LCD picture performance

Despite this screen's pleasing appearance - it is attractively clad in glossy black, rimmed in silver and boasts detachable, side-mounted silver speakers - you might be forgiven for thinking that there's not much about it to make it a 'novelty' TV.

But if you pick up the remote control and hit that 'swivel' button, you'll find this 32in LCD swinging round to face you, ready to deliver TV, DVD and highdefinition images. A screen that swivels on its desktop stand would generally be a luxury model, and come with a hefty price tag to match, but with the 32LD7200, novelty comes cheap - it will set you back around just £1,500.

But we're not shallow here at What Plasma and LCD TV, and it's going to take more than a fancy stand to impress us. Still, having already been very impressed by Hitachi's recent HD-ready 42in plasma, the 42PD7200, we have high hopes for the 32LD7200. It may be an LCD - traditionally not Hitachi's strong point - but it's the first LCD to boast the company's acclaimed Picture Master processing. Here's hoping this means it lives up to our hopes...

Well connected

Connections certainly don't let the side down. Like its plasma cousin, the 32LD7200 includes digital inputs that will make Sky's upcoming high-definition TV services in 2006 well within reach of its HD-ready 1,366 x 768 resolution panel. As well as these HDMI and DVI digital inputs (only the former of which can carry HDTV, however), there are progressive scan and analogue high-def-capable component video inputs, three Scarts and PC inputs.

Processing power

Before we move on to the 32LD7200's performance, we should explain why that Picture Master processing is so exciting. Basically, the technology scales and processes an entirely digital signal, adds pixels, harvests over a billion colours and blackens blacks - and all while preventing blurring or 'ghosting' during fast motion (often LCD's Achilles heel). Brightness and colour should also been inflated thanks to a little something called 'In-Plane Switching'.

We decided to put this 'picture master' to the test with Lost in Translation. With much of the action taking place in the dimly lit bar and corridors of a swanky Tokyo hotel, it's a tough test of a screen's black level talents - but this set coped admirably.

As lost souls Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson have a late-night chat in the dark and moody bar, for instance, the level of detail apparent in both close-ups and backgrounds is simply stunning. There's a depth to the pictures that's quite rare on an LCD, which is helped no end by the almost complete absence of picture noise.

Our test disc does feature some brighter, daylight scenes, and it's here that we got to see that the Hitachi can produce colours that are vital and lively. In the scene where Johansson's character visits a Japanese temple, for example, the deep reds of the temple and the delicate whites of the blossom look both vibrant and natural.

Our test disc may not feature any bass-heavy action moments, but its score is greatly important to the overall affect of the movie. On the Hitachi the soundstage is deep and wide, and remarkably susceptible to even slight swivels of the stand (yes, we're still playing with that!) - which is testament to the high levels of detail available.

In case you haven't guessed by now, we really like the 32LD7200. The swivelling stand is a nice gimmick, but it's performance that really counts, and this screen is just a touch of contrast away from delivering the ultimate LCD picture performance.