June 10, 2002 Hitachi's New Widescreens By HT Staff Hitachi is back in the widescreen HDTV race. The company voluntarily pulled itself out of the integrated HDTV market last year, due to what executives called "premature market timing." The change is due to the growth in available over-the-air high-definition programming. Hitachi has introduced a new lineup of widescreen HDTV rear-projection displays. The new products include three fully integrated HDTV sets with inboard ATSC and cable-ready NTSC tuners. Unlike Hitachi's early integrated models, the new ones won't decode DirecTV signals. Customers wanting that service will have to buy satellite receivers. Scheduled to appear at dealers in September, the new UltraVision XWX series includes models in three graduated sizes: 51"(diagonal), 57", and 65", prices at $4,299.99, $4,799.99 and $5,299.99 respectively. XWX TVs feature Hitachi's digital chassis and wide-neck CRTs with five-element lenses. An anti-reflective screen is said to absorb as much as 80% of ambient room light, for higher contrast, brighter images, and better off-axis viewing. VirtualHD signal processing improves images regardless of the source quality. Older rear-projection sets were plagued by convergence problems, requiring weekly tweaking to keep them looking good. Buyers of Hitachi's new displays won't have to contend with that; the new models include both the proprietary "MagicFocus" automatic convergence system, and a remote-accessible 117-point manual digital convergence for users who wish to tweak their sets. The new Hitachi displays include Digital Visual Interface (DVI) connection with HDCP content protection and an IEEE-1394 (iLINK) interface with DTCP content protection. Onscreen menus are designed to be as intuitive as possible, with the digital TV acting as an IR-based "control hub" in a home theater system. The 13-key remote can control as many as four components in such a system. Hitachi's new 1394 interfaces won't support "HAVi" interoperability, but the DVI and 1394 connections will be compatible with digital video recorders and set-top converter boxes (STBs). Hitachi won't be pursuing the STB market, as it feels the time has come to gradually phase out two-component video displays. Video fans who already own ATSC tuners will be able to save some money by opting for Hitachi's UltraVision SWX high-end HDTV rear projection monitors, similar in size and capability to the SWX line, but without the integrated tuners. The 51" UltraVision will sell for $2,999.99, the 57" for $3,499.99, and the 65" for $3,999.99. UltraVision SWX displays will begin shipping in July.