Hitachi UT42MX70U LCD television

Hitachi has been on a diet. In the wake of its 32-inch UT32MH40U, the Japanese brand’s Ultra Thin range has now been graced by this, the slimmest 42-inch flat TV around.

And when we say flat, we really mean it. The depth of the UT42MX70U is a mere 35mm, around a third of the size of most screens. A notable exception to that rule is JVC’s £1100 LT-42DS9BJ, a 39mm-deep LCD TV and the model that the UT42MX70U should be compared to.

Slightly more svelte it may be, but there’s a reason why this Hitachi is so unique. It’s not a telly. Yes, you read us correctly. With no digital or analogue TV tuner inside, the UT42MX70U is more a monitor than a TV.

On its rear is a sole HDMI input, which is enough to attach it to a HDMI switching box or a bells-and-whistles AV amplifier that has a HDMI input. And that’s a clue as to where Hitachi thinks the UT42MX70U is headed for: a high-end home cinema set-up where the owner watches, say, a Sky+HD box, a Blu-ray player and perhaps a games console.

Those of us without such toys should still consider the UT42MX70U, because Hitachi is about to start selling a separate tuner box, complete with digital TV tuner. Although we didn’t get a review sample, our sources tell us that a free multimedia box will come with this very screen for a grand total of £1500.

Just so you know, that box will include three HDMI inputs and one output, a Scart, Composite video, S-Video and a USB port, which will bring it up to speed with most other flat TVs. Don’t rule out the future possibility of wireless transmission from the box to the TV - the Japanese version of this package uses Ultra Wideband to send all high-def pictures from the box to the TV without a cable in sight! That may be a while off in the UK, but the possibility of constant upgradeability does at least make us warm to the idea of buying a bare-bones screen such as this.

No matter; we were already warming to the UT42MX70U in any case. Its chief skill is with high definition. No surprises there, but its Full HD 1080p resolution LCD screen is capable of some stunningly precise images and plenty of vibrant, yet natural colour. As a screen for gaming it’s not bad, either, with 100Hz pictures smooth and fluid.

Verdict

But there are a couple of issues that will deter those after a dedicated high-end cinema screen. The UT42MX70U has a slight issue with light leakage that keeps the black from ever convincing. When viewed in a blackout, images suffer from blue-ish tint, especially at the edge of the screen, while there’s little detail within large blocks of black even at the centre of the action. That same issue also affects the viewing angle, which is rather limited - we’d recommend viewing it from head-on only.

That said, the UT42MX70U has plenty going for it in terms of pictures if you don’t watch with the lights off (and don’t move around much!) and it’s beautiful design and one-cable set-up makes it a tempting proposition.


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