UPDATED: Struggling Japanese consumer electronics Company Hitachi is in trouble with Australia’s largest CE retailer Harvey Norman following the running of advertising that claims that their 50″ plasma TV’s are full HD when in fact they are only able to deliver 1080i which industry experts claim is not the same as Full HD which runs at 1080p.

Angry over the discovery, Harvey Norman has written to TV vendors demanding certification that screens being sold in their stores as full HD are in fact capable of delivering a full 1080p signal. It is believed that less than 50 per cent have so far responded to Harvey Norman demands. 

The risk that retailers face is that a consumer who has purchased a 1080i TV believing it to be a full HD TV could in fact lodge a complaint over the transaction.

David Ackery General Manager of  Electrical at Harvey Norman said: “We have written to vendors qualifying the definition of HD TV sets that we are selling. I believe we and vendors have a moral and legal obligation to not mislead consumers. As I understand it full HD is 1080p and the industry has to reach a consensus on this which is what we have asked them to do”.

Industry expert Len Wallis of Len Wallis Audio in Sydney said: “We were of the belief that the Hitachi 50″ Plasma was in fact 1080p which is full HD. 1080i is not full HD. I will have to investigate this as we have advertised the Hitachi screen as full HD and this now appears not to be the case. It is also what Hitachi told us and what is in their own advertising”.

He added, “1080i is not full HD and to say so is wrong”.

 

Celine Herit the Marketing Communications Manager at Hitachi said: “We are well aware of the issue. Yes we advertised a 1080i TV as full HD. But where is the standard and what is the difference? I don’t want to talk on this issue anymore and don’t call me again on this issue”. She then hung up.

In a double page spread magazine advertisement in September 2007, Hitachi used the headline High Definition Redefined.  Using a large image of their 50″ plasma 1080i plasma screen which was up to 4 times larger than other screens shown they went on to claim that there was conventional high definition and Hitachi full definition. They also showed an image that would lead one to believe that Hitachi Full Definition was superior to conventional high definition.
In fact they showed that conventional high definition was blurred compared to their HD offering.


The comparison images were right next to the 50′ 1080i plasma which they said contained the Hitachi Full HD technology.
In the advertisement they also raised the question what is Full HD? They then went on to say “Packing over two million pixels on the screen Full HD is the ultimate High Definition experience. With twice the resolution of conventional HD video, Full HD makes the most of large screen plasma and LCD TVs delivering smooth life like images right down to the minutest detail. Full HD movies and video games are available on Blu Ray disc and the list of titles is growing all the time.
This SmartHouse says is misleading as a 1080i TV will not deliver a Blu ray at its optimum performance or deliver the “ultimate High Definition experience” as Hitachi claims.

 

 

For many vendors the issue is a fine line as 1080p resolution — which equates to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels — is Full HD because 1080p screens are theoretically capable of displaying every pixel at the HD highest-resolution. 1080i, the former king of HD TV delivers an identical 1,920 x 1,080 resolutions however it conveys the images in an interlaced format with the image “painted” on the screen sequentially.

The odd-numbered lines of resolution appear on first, followed by the even-numbered lines — all within 1/25 of a second. Progressive-scan formats such as 480p, 720p, and 1080p convey all of the lines of resolution sequentially in a single pass, which makes for a smoother, cleaner image, especially with sports and other motion-intensive content.

Michael Broadhurst Public Relations Manager at Pioneer said: “We are well aware of the HD issue with Harvey Norman. Hitachi’s actions have hurt everyone and the issue of what constitutes full HD is a big issue in the industry”.

 

Paul Read General Manager of AV for Panasonic said: “We are well aware of the HD issue. Our full HD screens are all 1080p and we are confident that they comply”.

Laurie Nolan Marketing Manager at Sharp: “The issue for many is what constitutes full HD. Several vendors have different opinions of this and different full HD logos. The issue was raised recently at a recent Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (AEEMA) meeting and there is no doubt that the industry needs to develop a standard for full HD with a common logo”.

In recent months Hitach has come under a lot of pressure in the consumer electronic market. They are struggling to survive in the volatile plasma market and during the past few years have notched up close to a billion dollar in losses.

This week they  pulled the plugs on the  production and sales of rear-projection TVs. The decision follows the recent Hitachi announcement that they will reach over $700 million in losses this year in their CE division which is reeling from decling plasma sales.

The company has also gone into spin doctor mode after the US Consumer Report an independent body that tracks warranty claims and service issues said in it’s latest report that the Hitachi LCD TV was one the worse LCD TV’s when it came to warrantly claims and repair costs.

 

Even before the fall out with Harvey Norman and compounding their overseas problems were claims in Australia by a leading CEDIA member that their plasma TV’s were not up to scratch when it came to delivering a quality picture.  

Hitachi’s decision to get out of the rear projection market in an effort to cut costs could drive rivals such as Sony and JVC to do the same.

Since this story was posted Hitach lawyers have written to SmartHouse demanding the removal of this story.

What we have said on this issue and other storiesis as follows.

Last week SmartHouse indicated in a story titled “Hitachi Tries To Redeem Itself After Full HD Debacle” that “Hitachi had refused a request for a 50” 1080i plasma TV. This is incorrect. At the time I was under the impression that another journalist at 4Square Media had made this request and had been refused. I apologise for this assertion.

Hitachi via their lawyers has said that a 1080i 50″ plasma screen will be made available to SmartHouse for evaluation Vs a same size 50″ 1080p plasma TV.


They also claim that SmartHouse has recently published a number of incorrect statements about Hitachi and its products.
Hitachi claim that we had suggested in our recent stories that Hitachi has deliberately misled customers in relation to “Full HD” They claim that this is incorrect. 

 


They claim that most of Hitachi’s “Full HD” televisions are 1080p. While SmartHouse accepts that 1080p constitutes “Full HD we do not accept that 1080i is Full HD”.
Full HD by its description would lead one to believe that it is the best or the fullest image that one can obtain from a TV screen. 


In a letter to SmartHouse lawyers for Hitachi say that there is only one television which is 1080i and this is marketed as “Full HD”.  SmartHouse disagrees with that description but as we have pointed out there is no current standard in Australia that clearly identifies the differences between 1080i and 1080p technology and the meaning of “full HD”.
Smarthouse accepts that Hitachi has taken steps to ensure that customers understand that the television in question is 1080i. We are also told by Harvey Norman management that Hitachi has agreed to refund customers who have purchased a 50″ Hitachi plasma.


At no stage did Harvey Norman management say to SmartHouse directly that Hitachi had engaged in deliberately misleading customers. However we do say that Hitachi marketing for their 50″ P50X01 1080i plasma is confusing and misleading.


In a double page spread magazine advertisement in September 2007, Hitachi used the headline High Definition Redefined.  Using a large image of their 50″ plasma 1080i plasma screen which was up to 4 times larger than other screens shown they went on to claim that there was conventional high definition and Hitachi full definition. They also showed an image that would lead one to believe that Hitachi Full Definition was superior to conventional high definition.
In fact they showed that conventional high definition was blurred compared to their HD offering.


The comparison images were right next to the 50′ 1080i plasma which they said contained the Hitachi Full HD technology.
In the advertisement they also raised the question what is Full HD? They then went on to say “Packing over two million pixels on the screen Full HD is the ultimate High Definition experience. With twice the resolution of conventional HD video, Full HD makes the most of large screen plasma and LCD TVs delivering smooth life like images right down to the minutest detail. Full HD movies and video games are available on Blu Ray disc and the list of titles is growing all the time.
This SmartHouse says is misleading as a 1080i TV will not deliver a Blu ray at its optimum performance or deliver the “ultimate High Definition experience” as Hitachi claims. This can only be done on a 1080p TV.


In the Hitachi flat screen offering there is only two 1080p High Definition LCD TV’s. These are the
L37X01 Full HD TV 37″, Full High Definition LCD TV, Key Features · 94cm 1920 x 1080p Full HD LCD panel and the L42X01 Full HD TV 42″ Full High Definition LCD TV ·106cm 1920 x 1080p Full HD LCD panel.


At no stage have we said that Hitachi Australia is not profitable in the consumer technology market in Australia. We have said that the Hitachi Ltd of Japan is unprofitable and has announced significant losses competing in the plasma marketplace. 
 

 

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