It's easy to promise you'll make the thinnest TV in the world, but actually doing it is quite another thing. When it comes to ponying up the goods, Hitachi has beaten the likes of Samsung and Panasonic to produce an impressively thin TV. The range, which is hilariously known as Wooo in Japan, is due to touch down in Britain this year, and we're 8-year-old-at-Laser-Quest excited.
The range comes in three sizes, 32, 37 and 42 inches and each of them are 38mm deep. Hitachi has managed to reduce the depth of its screens by taking a number of drastic steps. Firstly, it has reduced the size of the power supply by 33 per cent, which makes a huge difference to the overall depth of the screen. Secondly, it has taken the highly unusual decision to remove all of the tuners and most of the inputs from the screen. That means if you want to watch TV on one, you're going to need an external receiver with HDMI out.
The lack of tuner means Hitachi won't actually be calling these screens TVs when they launch. We aren't quite sure how it's going to tackle this marketing challenge, but it might call them 'monitors' instead.
If you're a Sky HD or Virgin HD subscriber, you'll have a box with HDMI out anyway. Things are a little more complicated for Freeview, which doesn't have a huge number of HDMI-enabled boxes, although there are solutions available, such as BT Vision. The other option is Hitachi's media box, which has an MPEG-4/MPEG-2 Freeview Playback-capable PVR with 250GB storage. It's designed to work with these screens specifically, and if we ever get HD on Freeview, it could handle that too. The downside is it's a cracking £380.
In Japan, these TVs are also available in a selection of colours, including one in white that accounts for 40 per cent of sales. We think it's remarkable that people would buy a white TV, but there are other colours too, so you might find one that better matches your curtains.
You'll be able to get the 32-inch screen in April, the 37 is arriving in May and the 42 will leisurely waft ashore in June. When they do launch, the 720p 32MH70 will cost around £1,145, the 1080p 37MX70 will go for around £1,900, and the 42MX70 (also 1080p) will be about £2,290.
It can't be denied that these TVs are visually striking. The question is, will anyone pay this kind of money for a TV when there are other, slightly fatter, but vastly cheaper alternatives out there? We'll let you decide. –Ian Morris