Although Hitachi remains one of the ever-dwindling plasma supporter's club, it seems to accept that you can't just try and pretend that LCD doesn't exist. In fact, Hitachi is expanding by the day, as it now opts for LCD over plasma right up to 37in screen sizes. And the LCD based Hitachi on review here will attest to that.
The 37LD6600 is rather pretty to look at. Its black fascia scores subtlety and originality points for its matt rather than glossy finish, and its lines are clean and slender. The only sour note comes from a distractingly over-large HD Ready logo.
Connectivity is functional without setting the world on fire. So you get HDMI and component jacks for HD use, a PC input, and even a line out for attaching an external subwoofer. But there are only two Scarts, and we'd have liked a second HDMI.
The absence of a slot for adding subscription TV services to a Freeview digital tuner is noticeable, but not all that surprising considering the 37LD6600 doesn't actually have a digital tuner...
What it does have is HD Ready status, with a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
Other key specs include a slightly low-looking claimed contrast ratio of 800:1, and the presence in the panel design of In-Plane Switching (IPS). Put simply, IPS combines high-purity colour filters with liquid crystal molecules that rotate while remaining parallel to the panel substrate when they receive voltage, resulting in - allegedly - wider viewing angles, higher brightness and better colour tones.
Also worth a mention on the features front are a Film mode for better motion handling of film sources, a 3D comb filter, and picture-in-picture facilities.
The 37LD6600's pictures are best described as solid and in fact its colours manage to be unusually vivid and rich while maintaining a believable tone. This latter attribute means that even low-lit skin tones look more than presentable.
We also found the 37LD6600's black levels satisfying. We have seen better, but they each deep enough to add depth to the picture - especially as they even manage to resolve some subtle detailing in dark areas.
The biggest chink in the 3 7LD6600's armour is its lack of sharpness. Standard-definition pictures look quite soft, but even high-definition sources lack the clarity and texture we'd expect. The picture is a bit noisey.
Sonically the 37LD6600 is more consistent. There's a surprising a mount of raw power in its soundstage, helping it manage a very good frequency range and some serious volume levels. Our only complaint would be that voices can sound slightly muffled during loud action scenes.
All of which adds up to an uncharacteristically lukewarm return for a Hitachi TV. The 37LD6600 is certainly not a bad LCD TV by any means, but it doesn't enjoy the same relative prowess as Hitachi's plasma T Vs, and is perhaps a touch expensive for what it offers. John Archer