In Japan, Hitachi's range of ultra-thin TVs are known as 'Wooo', which is pretty vanilla from the country that brought us the Nintendo Wii and tentacle-based pornography. Name aside, we've been excited about the inch-and-a-half-thick Hitachis since we first saw them at CES 2008, so when the company offered to let us get our sweaty hands on the 42-inch model first, we jumped at the chance.
The first thing we should mention about the UT42 is that it isn't technically a TV. It contains no TV tuners, so out of the box you won't be able to watch Doctor Who -- you'll have to first hook it up to something that does have a tuner in it, and an HDMI out. Freeview PVRs -- especially DVD recorders -- sometimes have HDMI, but it's far from the de facto standard. To keep the size down, the UT42 also only has one HDMI socket, and no Scart, S-Video or composite inputs. There is a VGA socket for hooking up your PC, media centre, Xbox 360 or PS3, and an associated sound input -- but that's it.
To get other inputs you'll have to buy the accompanying Hitachi media box, which will be sold separately from October. It will feature a Freeview tuner, with HD compatibility, and a built-in PVR. It will also act as a break-in box, to which you can connect all your other equipments. It will include three HDMI inputs, as well as single Scart, S-Video, composite and USB sockets. Hitachi is also planning a wireless version of this box for next year, although we remain sceptical about wireless HDMI in the UK.
The panel itself is a 1080p model, with 100Hz for smoother motion on movies, and an IPS alpha panel, which should mean you get decent viewing angles -- always a bonus for LCD TVs. Hitachi also claims it's using a new diffuser, which should help make the backlight even with no bright spots. The UT42-XV700 will be available very soon, but we don't know how much it will set you back yet. Click Next Photo for more pics and stats. -Ian Morris
Update: Read our full Hitachi UT42-XV700 review.