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Hitachi P50T501 Plasma HDTV Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 April 2008
ImageThe Basics:
Hitachi was one of the first manufacturers to release 42- and 50-inch “1080” plasma models in 2007; however, many of these models do not have full 1920 x 1080 resolution, and all of them use a special panel technology called ALiS (Alternate Lighting of Surfaces) that causes them to perform more like a 1080i panel. The 50-inch P50T501 has a 1280 x 1080 resolution, and only alternate rows can be illuminated at the same time, so you never get a full progressive 1080-line image on the screen.
The connection panel sports three HDMI inputs (including one on the front panel) that accept 1080p/60, but not 1080p/24. You also get two HD-capable component video inputs, plus an RS-232 port to integrate the TV into a more advanced control system. The front-panel SD card reader allows you to view JPEG photos on the 50-inch screen.

The menu includes a solid but not extensive amount of picture adjustments. You get several preset picture modes and color temperature options, but it does not offer direct access to advanced white-balance controls. You can set the TV’s timer to automatically switch between day and night picture settings. The TV features a split-screen viewing mode, as well as numerous aspect-ratio options, including a mode that allows you to view 1080i/1080p sources with zero overscan. Automatic aspect ratio detection is here, Hitachi has added several features to prevent or counteract short-term image retention, and the Image Power function reduces power consumption.

This TV has a simple but elegant design, with an all-black frame, a horizontal speaker bar along the bottom panel and a swiveling stand.

The Upside:
This TV does a generally good job with both high- and standard-definition content, offering pleasing color and good detail. Also, it does not suffer from motion blur or viewing angle limitations, and its glass panel doesn’t reflect as much light as some plasmas.

The Downside:
Black level is only average for a plasma, and the P50T501’s picture isn’t as razor-sharp as you’ll see with a true 1920 x 1080 LCD or plasma. The image can look a little noisy at times. While the anti-reflective screen does minimize light reflections, this TV isn’t as bright as an LCD and may not be the ideal choice for a really bright, sunlit room.

The P50T501 offers solid performance and a nice complement of features, and its price is still slightly lower than that of a true 1080p 50-inch plasma. However, for a modest step up in price, you can get true 1080p and better overall performance from other panels on the market.

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