Hitachi has always been better known for its top-class plasma screens than for LCD TVs, but the Japanese company has put a great deal of effort into developing this 37in HD-ready model.

The 37LD9700 is a solidly made, good-looking LCD TV with the added attraction of a motorised stand: push a button on the remote and you can swivel the screen left and right. This might not be the most useful of features – after all, how often do you need to rotate your TV after setting it up? – but it’s a head-turner all the same.

There’s a fine set of connections on offer, including the usual hi-def compatible selection of two HDMIs and one component video input. There are three Scarts (two of which are compatible with RGB signals), an PC VGA connection, a subwoofer output, and the usual AV inputs on the side panel. 

Next to them you’ll find a USB slot, which can be used to display digital photos on the screen from a digital camera, camcorder or using a card reader. The 37LD9700 also has a slot for the widely used Secure Data (SD) memory card format. Very handy for impromptu exhibitions of photos and video from your cameraphone or digital camera.

Set up is quite straightforward, thanks to auto tuning and a nicely laid out menu system. Hitachi has really gone to town on the picture tweaking options here, offering no less than three screens of options for users to adjust. There are the usual picture enhancement and noise reduction features, plus dynamic contrast (which makes a huge difference to the visible detail in the picture if you’re viewing during the day).

Going wide

One big thing about the 37LD9700 is its wide viewing angle. Many LCD TVs have very narrow viewing angles, so unless you’re sitting directly in front of the screen, picture quality will drop; especially in the blacks. That isn’t the case here, and Hitachi claims that the 37LD9700 has the widest viewing angle on the market. This means you can sit yourself way off to the side and still see the picture perfectly. Black areas won’t fade and contrast remains strong.

And thankfully picture quality is good. Colours are extremely bright and vibrant thanks to good saturation, and transitions from light to dark are displayed smoothly, with only a tiny amount of banding or contouring. Movement is also extremely smooth, even during fast horizontal pans, so anyone hooking up an Xbox 360 for a Pro Evolution Soccer session isn’t going to have their match spoiled by blurring players.

Detail levels with hi-def sources are good too, as you’d expect, but the screen can’t kill off all the MPEG noise in a Sky HD broadcast, despite the noise reduction features. In fact, in some cases it can make the image slightly worse by softening it up too much, so it needs to be used carefully. You want your Premier League football in the highest eye-popping detail, after all...

Typical sounds abound

The 37LD9700’s sound quality is typical of a mid-sized with underslung speakers. They lack good stereo separation but do the job well enough, throwing out crisp audio when required, not to mention a healthy amount of bass. And there’s a subwoofer output allows external bass box to be linked directly to the TV, for more oomph.

All in all this is a very solid LCD TV that can stand up to anything in Hitachi’s plasma range for quality. The 37LD9700 is well-designed and constructed, comes with a healthy haul of features and performs extremely well.