If you want to experience true High Definition television and watch DVD movies featuring sharp and crisp color images, look no further than the Hitachi 57S700 (which will soon be replaced by their 57S715 – the only difference is that the S715 includes HDMI instead of DVI). Hitachi’s HDTV sets offer the consumer “state-of-the-art” technology with a terrific feature package in a very stylish and handsome cabinetry. It’s a set for today and tomorrow featuring an integrated HDTV tuner and QAM cable tuner. By including both DVI and 1394, this set won’t become obsolete for many years to come.
Hitachi has long been considered a progressive and innovative television company. It now looks to embrace the future of television by offering a complete line of widescreen high definition televisions designed to take full advantage of the burgeoning HD signals. All of their new sets – both rear projection and plasma — fall into the categories of HDTV Monitors (requiring a separate stand-alone ASTC tuner in the form of a set-top box [STB]) or fully integrated High Definition TVs. It was also the first manufacturer to integrate Cable HD QAM tuners into their integrated HDTV sets allowing for the reception of “in-the-clear” high definition signals. The set reviewed below is a fully integrated HDTV.
Hitachi’s UltraVision Digital 57S700 television is a 57-in. widescreen integrated HDTV model. While including twin NTSC tuners and an integrated ATSC tuner (for over-the-air HD broadcasts), this model also includes a QAM cable tuner that allows it to receive unscrambled HD signals from your local cable provider (without using a set-top box). This impressive HDTV set utilizes three 7-in. wide neck HD Hybrid CRTs w/5-element super contrast lenses, and a first surface mirror for better image clarity and resolution. The set features a new high-contrast 0.52mm fine pitch screen and a deep black anti-reflective shield (tinted plastic screen), which combined together helps image contrast greatly making blacks blacker and whites whiter. As well, the set includes an ambient light sensor (called Perfect Picture) that automatically adjusts brightness and contrast depending on room light. Of course, you can turn it off, if you like, or use one of the set’s pre-set viewing modes. To improve overall picture clarity, red and green color purity filters are employed with the HD wide-neck hybrid CRTs for better color resolution.
Unlike other brands, Hitachi includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround decoder and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo down mix solution built-in for aural processing. Other aural processing includes SRS Surround Sound, BBE Sound Enhancement, and BBE Mach3 Bass Enhancement. The 57S700 features an internal 24-watt 2-way Bass Reflex speaker system. Convenience features include dual tuner Picture-in-Picture called ‘Picture Window.’ As well, there is simple to use and intuitive on-screen menus and displays in three languages (English, French & Spanish).
Hitachi’s 57S700 HDTV Rear Projection Television
Features and Design
As you may be aware with many front and rear CRT-based projectors, converging the three picture tubes is certainly a problem, can be quite a hassle, and cumbersome at best. It was a snap with the 57S700 because of its internal digital convergence circuitry – a feature Hitachi rear projection sets have had for years. Simply invoke ‘Magic Focus’ from the on-screen menus, and it automatically converges the set to factory specifications. Of course, this can also be accomplished manually (for those of us die hard videophiles) via the remote control also allowing you to make up to 117-point adjustments. The convergence screen really tells the tale here with various grid patterns placed on-screen. All grid lines were straight and true with virtually no distortion from corner-to-corner or edge-to-edge.
One of the beauties of this set is that its ATSC tuner is integrated into the 57S700. Simply plug in your incoming signal cable (from your off-air antenna or cable company) into either Ant. A or B that feeds the signals directly into the ATSC/QAM tuner. At the touch of a button on your remote, it automatically programs all receivable HD channels in your area both over-the-air and in-the-clear cable Housed in a finely crafted black wood cabinet featuring a silver trim around the screen, the 57S700 features twin 181-channel NSTC tuners with auto programming. NTSC images are further enhanced through the use of a digital 4MB 3D-Y/C comb filter, which helps reduced artifacts and dot crawl overall that are found in the NTSC signal. Other key video enhancement features include: video noise reduction, advanced scan velocity modulation, black level expansion, adjustable color temperature control, and point motion adaptive video processing. All of these video enhancement features can be turned off or on as needed (via the supplied remotes). Combined together, this stunning example of HDTV prowess is capable of processing 480i/480p/540p/ 720p/1080i signals by using its 3:2 progressive scan film correction, 26-point motion adaptive video processing; and displaying those images (user-selectable) at either up converted 540p or 1080i (called Virtual HD) for non-HD sources. Overall, the set is capable of displaying 1280 lines of horizontal resolution, and features six widescreen fill modes.
The back of the Hitachi 57S700 features plenty of connectors
The ergonomically-designed universal remote will completely control a total of 8 separate components. Connections include three antenna RF inputs (one dedicated for over-the-air ATSC signals and one for cable QAM), 3 A/V inputs, 3 S-Video along with 2 HD-grade Component Video inputs, and 1 A/V/S-Video output. There is also 1 front A/V/S-Video input hidden under a drop down panel. As mentioned above, there is also a digital audio (optical) output so that you can separately pass Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or digital audio to a separate A/V Receiver or Processor. Also included is a DVI (digital visual interface) with HDCP copy protection connector and twin two-way 4-pin IEEE1394 connector with 5C copy protection as well. This makes the 57XWX a set for today and tomorrow.
The best way to evaluate a High Definition TV is to watch HD programming, and the Hitachi 57S700 allows for easy toggling between NTSC and ATSC signals handling all HD signals quite well from broadcast to satellite and beyond. Displayed images were clean, smooth, and quite natural looking. Consistently, colors were very vibrant and like-like from all signal sources (off-air, cable, satellite, and progressive scan DVD player). I’ve said it before, but it’s worth noting again that watching HDTV is like looking out of a window at action unfolding right on the other side of the glass. In other words, the bottom line – the HD signals viewed from the 57S700 were very realistic and life-life.
Clearly, the 57S700 produced high definition images from one of my Satellite HD set-top boxes (the LG LSS-3200A) viewing DirecTV’s HDNet, DiscoveryHD Theater, HBO-HD, and Showtime-HD (Ch.543). Colors were vibrant, life-like and quite natural also. Watching original programming like Jeremiah (shot in HD), for example, on Showtime makes it very apparent that you are watching HD as the program source as it has a more film-like appearance in HD than SD. While noise and digital artifacts are somewhat visible in SD even on satellite, it’s non-existent in HD; and as you toggle back and forth, it really becomes apparent. In HD, the images truly come to life, as they appear somewhat flat in SD. Think of it as comparing images that are 2-Dimentional to those that are 3-Dimentional. In HD, the images “pop” right off the screen. Of course, both premium movie channels also broadcasts the audio portion of the program in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, which further enhances programming like Jeremiah making you become part of the world exploding at the opening of the episode each week. On HBO-HD, The Sopranos looked absolutely stunning! Maybe a bit too realistic for some tastes!
Of course, in the evaluation of any next-generation television, you need to attach a progressive scan DVD player to display the best possible visual images from a video source component. For this evaluation, I used the Marantz DV-8400 (using DVI-D) with various types of program material from animation to action special effects-laden films. The images reproduced on the 57S700 were quite spectacular as well especially with recent “blockbuster” movies like Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secret, Finding Nemo, Beauty & The Beast-Special Edition, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Special Edition, Seabiscuit, and Pirates of the Caribbean-The Curse of the Black Pearl for example. The images were very, very film-like in their presentation looking almost as good as those films broadcast on either HBO-HD or Showtime-HD channels from DirecTV. The bottom line was that the displayed DVD images were especially compelling and life-like.
Like all good reviewers, I had to throw up a couple of Color Bars and Test Patterns. I’ve become fond of the Aquaria disk (from Pioneer Digital World) recently that offers different views of aquariums plus offers Gray Scale, Color Bar charts and Test Patterns as a change of pace. It more clearly showed me, and reinforced my “gut” feeling that all of the colors (as displayed on the Color Bar chart) were true with no bleeding from one color to another. Here again, with the 57S700 the charts were right on target – sort of speak — without any jittery motion, artifacts, or herringbone effect that can sometimes be present in static images. On the Color Bar chart, for example, the separation line between colors sometimes can be jagged on many interlaced sets, or ones with inferior comb filters. This was not the case with the 57S700 thanks to its 4MB 3D-Y/C comb filter.
Lastly, I have to say that the images were among the best that I have seen to date from a CRT-based integrated rear projection television. So, if you want to experience true High Definition television and watch DVD movies featuring sharp and crisp color images, look no further than the Hitachi 57S700 (which will soon be replaced by their 57S715 – the only difference is that the S715 includes HDMI instead of DVI). Hitachi’s HDTV sets offer the consumer “state-of-the-art” technology with a terrific feature package in a very stylish and handsome cabinetry. It’s a set for today and tomorrow featuring an integrated HDTV tuner and QAM cable tuner. By including both DVI and 1394, this set won’t become obsolete for many years to come.