Often we see extra-cool TVs roll out in Japan that we assume will never come to the US. Hitachi made us happy today by following up its Japan Wooo Ultra Thin launch with announcement of US availability, sans the "Wooo" branding. A 768-line 32" and 1080p 37" and 42" models all measuring 1.5" thick will be shipping in the US next year, the little one appearing in the spring, while the other two will hit stores in the second quarter. Hitachi won't talk specs or US pricing, though they say it's a luxury, early-adopter product, so think expensive. There are some sexy features that we didn't get to in our Japan coverage:
• Hitachi used automotive technology to build the radiant beveled edge with a translucent back-coating of metallic paint. In Japan the metallic paint may be red, blue, white or other colors; in the US, it will be silver.
• Ventilation engineering came from Hitachi's mainframe division: the system is called "airflow analytic design" and it helps the TV achieve ultra-quiet no-fan cooling.
• The bulb in the Ultra Thin series is an external electric fluorescent light (EEFL) which is apparently more efficient than CCFL and can provide a better colour range than white LEDs.
HITACHI LAUNCHES NEW LINE OF ULTRA THIN DISPLAYS Available in 2008, Hitachi's Chic New HDTVs Mark the Debut of an Entirely New Category of Display --
TOKYO - October 23, 2007 - Hitachi has achieved yet another consumer electronics breakthrough with today's announcement of its new line of 1.5-inch (35mm) Ultra Thin HDTV's. Hitachi also expects to be first to market with its new Ultra Thin series, which will be available in the Japan market in December of 2007. U.S. consumers can expect to see Ultra Thin models in early 2008 - many months before thin displays from other manufacturers.
These slim, stylish LCDs from Hitachi represent an important new category of product that is being called Ultra Thin Displays. This new type of display is designed for a highly affluent and refined segment of consumers who seek luxury, style and prestige. This extremely discerning audience also demands a set of features, technologies and design aesthetics that are separate and very distinct from those found in today's traditional Flat Panel Displays.
"As very large consumer markets grow and evolve, sub-segments with particular nuances will emerge," said Daniel Lee, vice president of marketing for Hitachi America, Ltd., Ubiquitous Platform Systems Division. "This is precisely what we're seeing in the HDTV market and our new designs are at the forefront of this shift. What's happening is that the more traditional Flat Panel Displays will continue to focus on 'bigger is better.' Hitachi knows this segment very well, and we have for years held a leadership position with our Director's Series plasmas. But our research shows a new trend emerging: consumers want access to information and entertainment throughout the home. This is the promise behind the 'networked' and 'digital' home. And it's also what's behind the emergence of these new Ultra Thin Displays from Hitachi, which are very thin, versatile, lightweight and stylish and can elegantly be placed in any room or multiple rooms throughout the home. At Hitachi, we will be tailoring our engineering product development and overall go-to-market strategy to address this important and exciting market dynamic."
Initially offered in three sizes (32", 37" and 42"), the displays are designed to provide consumers with a range of options for placement throughout the home. Hitachi's research shows consumers want Ultra Thin Displays to be more discreet, flexible, modern and sleek, since they will often be purchased for a kitchen, bathroom, office or bedroom.
Ultra Thin, Yet Feature Rich
"Hitachi understands that when selecting an Ultra Thin Display, consumers want a very modern, thin profile and a lightweight unit but they do not want to trade off any of the features or performance of a top-of-the-line HDTV," said Bill Whalen, director of product development for Hitachi America, Ltd., Ubiquitous Platform Systems Division. "The Ultra Thin Displays from Hitachi pack style and performance into a sleek, compact form factor that makes absolutely no compromises when it comes to innovative technologies, groundbreaking features, theater-quality image optimization, state-of-the-art electronics and wall-shaking sound. Typical of Hitachi's complete line of products, these new displays perform at the top of their class." The new Ultra Thin Displays embody the following features:
External Electrode Fluorescent Lamp (EEFL) - The thinness of the displays was achieved through Hitachi's proprietary implementation of a technology called EEFL, which affords greater power efficiency, delivers better and more flexible colour accuracy and delivers a longer overall life span for the display.
Wide Viewing Angle - By implementing In Plane Switching (IPS), Hitachi has achieved the sharpest, clearest LCD possible, regardless of the angle at which the viewer is seated. A vertical and horizontal viewing angle of 178 degrees maintains natural colours and brightness, making it ideal for watching TV with the whole family and friends.
Hitachi's Proprietary "Anti-Judder" Technique (37" & 42") - Movies provide the illusion of motion by showing a series of still images over time. In fact, all Hollywood movies flash 24 individual images each second. However, Hollywood's 24 frames-per-second do not match our television systems, which show 60 frames each second. A conversion technique called "3:2 pull-down correction" is used to make the 24 frames of film fit the television's faster 60 frames. As this conversion is done, the viewer can often observe a jerky, troublesome visual effect that is called "judder." It appears as if the image is jittery or stuttering and is especially noticeable when the picture pans or makes sweeping, side-to-side movements. In its new Ultra Thin line, Hitachi has implemented proprietary technology which accurately and automatically eliminates the jerky "judder" motion. It does so by creating interpolated frames based on the original film images. It smoothes out the movement and correctly matches the motion of the original movie.
Picture Master Full HD -- Hitachi's enhanced high-resolution image processing engine, Picture Master Full HD, analyzes and processes image at a high speed, providing state-of-the-art high picture quality. It achieves this in three ways:
* Advanced Dynamic Contrast -- analyzes every picture that appears on the screen and optimizes its contrast frame by frame.
* 3D Color Management -- adjusts the three constituent components of colour (hue, saturation, and brightness) pixel by pixel using 3D data.
* Advanced Dynamic Enhancer -- expresses images which are simultaneously detailed and dynamic, and controls detail gradation and sharp edges. In addition, Hitachi added a circuit which enhances the crispness in scenes to capture subtle details, such as details in human skin or a three-dimensional expression of mountain ridge, which reduces the grainy effect and pulls out the natural beauty.
High Audio Quality -- The 6.0 watt + 6.0 watt digital amplifier produces an exceptionally clear sound. The speakers located at the left and right sides of the bottom of the monitor are Hitachi's newly developed box-type speakers which are high quality and slim enough to fit the 35mm thickness of the monitor. The three sound modes allow consumers to select the most suitable type of audio effect depending on the contents - "clear voice" to pick up human voices clearly, "surround" for natural, clear three-dimensional sound, and "bass boost" for the optimum bass sound depending on the input signal.
Highly Refined and Energy Efficient Design
A glossy and high precision frame surrounds the picture area of each of the displays. The frame is beveled to present the viewing picture as if it were a work of art. The combination of a bevel on the outer frame combined with a radius on the inner frame presents a visually unique addition to any living environment. Not only are the new Ultra Thin Displays gorgeous in their appearance, they are responsible and sustainable in their design due to Hitachi's energy-efficient features such as "auto power off," to prevent consumers from forgetting to turn off the TV. The UT series also feature a "video power save" which allows consumers to switch to stand-by mode when there is no signal coming into the TV.