Hitachi plans to release starting in July a line of large-screen high-definition TVs with new technology for the largest sets that eliminates picture problems that sometimes occur when watching movies.
The 10 new 1080 pixel TVs range in size from 42 inches to 60 inches, and up the number of flat panel displays offered by Hitachi to 14. Of the new HDTVs, six are plasma displays, and four are liquid-crystal displays, or LCDs.
Three plasma sets, two 50-inch models and one 60-inch model, include Hitachi's Reel60, a technique based on algorithms that eliminates the stuttering and jerky movements that sometimes appears when watching movies on large HDTVs. Called "judder," the distortion is the result of the process of converting a 24-frame-per-second movie into a 60-frame-per-second format for TV.
Judder is often seen in parts of a movie where there's passing vehicles, or a camera pan across the screen. The Reel60 technique detects the frames in a movie where the distortion occurs, and corrects it before the image is shown to the viewer.
Other features in the new models include the ability to change the angle of the display 30 degrees right to left using the remote control, an important feature considering how HDTV screens often lose picture quality when viewed from the side. In the higher end models, Hitachi has added glow-in-the-dark keys to the remote control as a convenience for people who like to watch TV in dimly lit or dark rooms to replicate the theater environment.
The plasma TVs are scheduled to arrive at retailers next month. The first will be the 50-inch S-Series, expected to cost $3,500. In August, Hitachi plans to ship 50-inch V-Series, $4,000; and the 60-inch and 50-inch Director's Series, $8,000 and $4,300, respectively. In September, retailers are scheduled to have 55-inch H-Series and T-Series sets for $3,000 and $3,300, respectively.
The four LCD TVs are scheduled to be available in September and include 47-inch S-Series and V-Series sets for $3,000 and $3,200, respectively. Forty-two inch versions of the S- and V-Series are expected to be available for $2,300 and $2,500, respectively.
In today's HDTV market, size matters, especially as prices fall. Many people today buy HDTVs in the 37- to 42-inch range, with 25 inches being the minimum size needed to compete, analysts say.
LCD TVs are selling faster than plasmas, but alternatives are in the making. Sony, for example, is investing in a display technology called organic light emitting diode. OLED displays are superior in quality to LCDs and plasmas, but are years away from being available at a competitive size and price.