When is a TV a TV and not a monitor? According to Hitachi it’s when one rolls out an ultra thin LCD Monitor and calls it a TV despite the fact that buyers will have to add their own TV tuner.
In a desperate attempt to carve out a presence in the flat screen TV market Hitachi is now attempting to compete with the likes of Sony and Sharp by announcing a new line up of thin monitors which they are calling LCD TVs. The only problem with the new models is that one has to supply a separate TV tuner which will be an interesting problem for the ACCC.
The 35mm models will be rolled out early next in markets outside of Japan however the first Ultra Thin LCD TV models are set to arrive on Japan’s retail shelves in December.
Hitachi who is bleeding losses in the plasma TV market said it expects to be the first among a group of manufacturers preparing ultra-thin flat-panel displays to market the new products.
The biggest problem for Hitachi is that like Philips they have a reputation for being “Lousy” marketers and to take on the likes of Sony, Sharp and several Korean manufacturers such as Samsung in the new emerging Ultra Thin LCD TV market will be a difficult task.
The company claims that it will continue to use its plasma technology to address larger screen sizes, and is adding the Ultra-Thin models to address discerning consumers looking for high-quality options under 50-inches. Early models will be configured as TV “monitors,” lacking internal tuners, the company said.
Models in the series will feature the 32-, 37- and 42-inch screen sizes, and the two larger models will have 1080p HD resolution. The 32-inch model, which will have 1366-by-768 resolution, will ship in the first quarter of 2008 and the 37- and 42-inch models will ship in the second quarter of 2008. Prices will be announced later.
The LCD TVs are said to be stylish with a design for “a highly affluent and refined segment of consumers who seek luxury, style and prestige.”
Hitachi said the “extremely discerning audience also demands a set of features, technologies and design aesthetics that are separate and very distinct from those found in today’s traditional Flat Panel Displays.”
The Ultra Thin line will use a new External Electrode Fluorescent Lamp (EEFL) backlighting technology, which enabled Hitachi to achieve the thin dimensions.
The lighting system is also said to deliver greater power efficiency, “better and more flexible colour accuracy” and a longer overall lifespan.
“As very large consumer markets grow and evolve, sub-segments with particular nuances will emerge,” said Daniel Lee, of Hitachi’s Ubiquitous Platform Systems Division marketing VP. “This is precisely what we’re seeing in the HDTV market and our new designs are at the forefront of this shift. What’s happening is that the more traditional flat panel displays will continue to focus on ‘bigger is better.’ Hitachi knows this segment very well, and we have for years held a leadership position with our Director’s Series plasmas”
He added “Our research shows a new trend emerging: consumers want access to information and entertainment throughout the home. This is the promise behind the ‘networked’ and ‘digital’ home. And it’s also what’s behind the emergence of these new Ultra Thin Displays from Hitachi, which are very thin, versatile, lightweight and stylish and can elegantly be placed in any room or multiple rooms throughout the home. At Hitachi, we will be tailoring our engineering product development and overall go-to-market strategy to address this important and exciting market dynamic.”
“Hitachi understands that when selecting an Ultra Thin Display, consumers want a very modern, thin profile and a lightweight unit but they do not want to trade off any of the features or performance of a top-of-the-line HDTV,” stated Bill Whalen, director of product development for Hitachi America, Ltd., Ubiquitous Platform Systems Division. “The Ultra Thin Displays pack style and performance into a sleek, compact form factor that makes absolutely no compromises when it comes to innovative technologies, groundbreaking features, theatre-quality image optimization, state-of-the-art electronics and wall-shaking sound. Typical of Hitachi’s complete line of products, these new displays perform at the top of their class.”
Other technologies in the Ultra-Thin LCDs include: Hitachi’s “anti-judder” technique in the 37- and 42-inch models.
Movies provide the illusion of motion by showing a series of still images over time. Hollywood movies flash 24 individual images each second. However, Hollywood’s 24fps do not match television systems, which show 60 frames each second, Hitachi said.
A conversion technique called “3:2 pull-down corrections” is used to make the 24 frames of film fit the television’s faster 60 frames, Hitachi said. As this conversion is done, the viewer can often observe a jerky, troublesome visual effect that is called “judder.” It appears as if the image is jittery or stuttering and is especially noticeable when the picture pans or makes sweeping, side-to-side movements.
The Ultra Thin sets are said to accurately and automatically eliminate the jerky “judder” motion. It does so by creating interpolated frames based on the original film images. This smoothes out the movement and correctly matches the motion of the original movie.
Also included is Picture Master Full HD, which is Hitachi’s enhanced high-resolution image processing engine that analyses and processes image at a high speed and improves the picture using a variety of techniques including: Advanced Dynamic Contrast, which analyses every picture that appears on the screen and optimizes its contrast frame by frame; 3D Colour Management, which adjusts the three constituent components of colour (hue, saturation, and brightness) pixel by pixel using 3D data; and an Advanced Dynamic Enhancer, which expresses images which are simultaneously detailed and dynamic, and controls detail gradation and sharp edges.
In addition, Hitachi added a circuit which enhances the crispness in scenes to capture subtle details, such as details in human skin or a three-dimensional expression of mountain ridge, which reduces the grainy effect and pulls out the natural beauty, the company said.
Audio is addressed with a 6-watt plus 6-watt digital amplifier and speakers located at the left and right sides of the bottom of the monitor, creating a new “box-type” design that fits with the thinness of the panel.
Hitachi executives said the products will initially be sold under the company’s high-end Directors Series, which has distribution restricted to A/V specialty and custom installers.
Although the announcement targeted LCDs, Hitachi is not abandoning its commitment to the large-screen plasma TV segment, Whalen said. In fact, Hitachi engineers are working on new technologies that will soon deliver thin-panel characteristics to large-screen plasma displays, he added.