Hitachi (L22DG07U) 22 Inch LED LCD DVD Combi TV Review
Different name, same TV - we take a look at another 22 inch combi
TV reviewSRP: £160.00
IntroductionWhen we reviewed the Bush 22" LED TV/DVD Combi we noted that it was very similar to the Linsar 22" Combi, only cheaper. So we had a distinct sense of deja vu when we set up the Hitachi L22DG07U, in fact it wasn't just similar to the Bush, it was exactly the same TV. The only difference appears to be that the Hitachi has a glossy black bezel as opposed to the imitation brushed metal of the Bush. The only other difference is that the Bush is £30 cheaper and since that turned out to be an impressive little performer, worthy of a Recommended badge, the Hitachi will have to offer more than just a flashy bezel to warrant the extra cost.
Design and ConnectionsThe Hitachi sports a glossy black bezel but a quick look at the rear of the chassis reveals that the construction is identical to the Bush we reviewed earlier. The only differences are cosmetic with the aforementioned bezel and a matching oval shaped stand. The stand locks into a slot, without the need for screws, which makes set up very easy but the display can't be swivelled. The bezel itself measures 3cm at the top and sides and the curved bottom measures 5cm at its widest part. There is nothing else on the front except the name and an on/off light at the far left. The chassis itself is quite thin, with the Hitachi measuring a mere 2cm at its thinnest point, although it is 5.5cm deep where the DVD player is built in.
The DVD player is on the right hand side as you face the screen and it uses a slot mechanism for loading discs. There are only three controls on the entire TV and the first two are the play/pause and stop/eject buttons for the DVD player itself. The other control is at the rear of the chassis on the left hand side, where the side connections are positioned. This control is a toggle switch that can be used to turn the display on and off, move up and down and select the various modes. The rear of the chassis is made of matte black plastic, with ventilation grilles at the top and downward firing speakers at the bottom. There is a hard wired power cable that is 1.7m long.
The remote control is identical in design to the one provided with the Bush but with one useful exception, the writing on the grey buttons is white, making them easier to identify. Otherwise the remote is the same plastic construction, with a black and silver two tone effect on the front. It is well made, comfortable to hold and balanced at the base to make one handed operation easier. The ergonomic design is poor however; all the controls you need are there but the remote suffers from the problem of having too many small buttons in symmetric rows, which makes it hard to use. The DVD control buttons are also too small and positioned at the bottom of the remote, making them difficult to operate with one hand.
The Hitachi has a basic set of connections at the rear, comprising a single HDMI input, a SCART connector, a VGA input, an aerial socket and SPDIF coaxial digital output. At the side, 11cm in from the edge, there is a headphone socket, a component video input, a USB port and a CI (Common Interface) slot.
MenusThe Hitachi is easy to connect and install, as is the Freeview tuner, but unfortunately it is only standard definition. Whilst that doesn’t come as a surprise considering the smaller screen size, its a shame the tuner doesn't take full advantage of the Hitachi's 1080p panel. The Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) is fairly monochromatic and doesn’t have any audio or a thumbnail picture but it is clearly laid out and easy to follow.
If you hit the Source button on the remote then, depending on what’s connected, you can choose between TV, SCART, Side AV, SCART-S, DVD, HDMI1, YPbPr and VGA. If you press the Menu button then you will see a series of icons across the centre of the screen, the options are Picture, Sound, Settings, Install & Retune, Channel List and Media Browser. The Install & Retune sub-menu can be used to setup the Freeview tuner, although you are given the option to do that when you first turn the TV on, and the Channel List allows you to organise the channels in the EPG.
The Media Browser sub-menu allows you to watch movies, view photos or listen to music from a connected USB thumb drive. You can use the control buttons on the remote for watching movies or listening to music via a connected USB drive. In terms of file support you can watch movies using MPEG, DAT,VOB and AVI files, you can listen to music using MP3 files and look at photos using JPEG and BMP files.
In the Settings sub-menu you can select Conditional Access settings if you are using the CI slot, you can configure the Language settings, you can configure the Parental settings, set the Timers, set the Date/Time, enable and disable the different sources and various Other Settings.
The Sound Settings allow you to set the volume (although you can also do that directly from the remote of course), as well as the Equaliser, the Balance, the Headphone volume, the Sound Mode (Movie, Music, Speech, Flat, Classic and User), Automatic Volume Levelling (AVL), Dynamic Bass and Digital Out.
The Picture Settings menu allows you to choose the Picture Mode (Cinema, Natural, Game and Dynamic), as well as set all the usual controls such as Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness and Colour. There is also a Backlight control with four settings - minimum, medium and maximum or auto, a Power Save Mode and a Noise Reduction feature with options for low, medium, high or off.
Finally there is an Advanced Settings sub-menu and in here you can select the Colour Temperature (Normal, Warm or Cool). You can also turn on the Film Mode for correct cadence detection, select the Picture Zoom (aspect ratio), set HDMI True Black on or off and select the Colour Shift, which appears to be a tint control. As you will notice there are no other controls, not even a basic two point white balance control, so calibration will be challenging.
Test ResultsThe best out-of-the-box settings for the Hitachi include choosing a Picture Zoom (aspect ratio) of Full which pixel maps the incoming high definition signal to the 1080p panel. The default setting is Auto and this, or 16:9, are suitable if you only intend to watch standard definition content from either the inbuilt Freeview tuner or the DVD player. In terms of picture mode the Cinema preset offers the closest measurements to the industry standards of D65 and Rec.709. After that the Contrast and Brightness settings should be set to suit your viewing environment, the Sharpness control set to zero and the Colour control left at its default position. The Power Save Mode and the Noise Reduction control should be turned off and in the Advanced Settings, the Colour Temperature set to Warm, Film Mode turned on, HDMI True Black off and Colour Shift left at zero.
As you can see from the graphs above, by selecting the Cinema mode the accuracy has improved over the default setting. There is a slight excess of blue and green and red is still underpowered but at least they are all tracking much closer to the target of 100. As a result, the perceivable errors are considerably reduced and the Gamma curve is slightly improved, although still too bright, hitting 1.5 when our target is 2.2. The Colour Gamut is also marginally improved over the default setting but again there are still errors in green for brightness, saturation and hue. There are also errors in blue, although these were less obvious but the combination of green and blue errors has resulted in a significant error in the hue of cyan. These errors appear worse in the graphs than they do when actually watching normal viewing material and with most content the image looked surprisingly good.
Aside from the usual picture controls, the Hitachi has no other calibration settings, not even a two point White Balance, which makes further calibration impossible. This is a shame, as all three primary colours are tracking in straight lines, so if there was a white balance control, it would be easy to calibrate the greyscale accurately. We tried to improve the colour performance by adjusting the Colour and Colour Shift controls but were unable to make any real improvements. Therefore the out-of-the-box measurements shown above represent the Hitachi's final calibrated performance.
The LED backlight on the Hitachi has no problems in putting out plenty of brightness, so much so that even on a minimum setting, we could easily hit our target of 120cd/m2. In terms of the panel's black levels they were actually worse than the Bush, measuring 0.16cd/m2, which equates to an on/off contrast ratio of 750:1. Whilst this is rather poor for a TV, the good news is that there screen itself is largely free of reflections and the backlight uniformity is very good, with no obvious light pooling or bright corners. The graph above shows the spread of measurements for the ANSI contrast numbers, resulting in a ratio of 687:1, which is actually less impressive than the cheaper Bush.
The Hitachi performed reasonably well in our video processing tests, although it obviously benefits from a much smaller screen size. The scaling of standard definition content shows a little softness, so DVDs might not look the best but it can be of benefit with some broadcast TV. The Hitachi did well in the cadence tests and with the Film Mode engaged it is able to pick up the PAL 2:2 cadence. Video deinterlacing is also good with jaggies only appearing when the line was at an acute angle in the first test and slight jaggies appearing on the bottom of the three moving bars in the second. The Hitachi also has no problems showing details up to video level 255 and down to video level 16, which means that you are getting all the details in shadows and peak whites. Motion handling is also very good for a LCD TV at this price point and the Hitachi is able to handle 24p content quite well.
We measured the Hitachi's input lag at 35ms in Game mode, which is actually quite good and would certainly make it a reasonable second screen for gaming, especially as the smaller screen size would allow the TV to fit comfortably into a bedroom.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box Natural Mode: 21W
- Calibrated User Mode: 21W
- Using the built-in DVD player: 22W
DVD PerformanceThe Hitachi has a built-in DVD player, which performed very well, although the side slot mechanism was a little slow to load and eject the discs. However once the disc was loaded the player brought up the disc menu screen very quickly and general navigation was easy and responsive. Otherwise we found it easy to play and watch discs, scanning, skipping and pausing without any problems. The player was reasonably quiet in operation and you couldn't hear it spinning the disc when viewing. In terms of picture quality the playback of DVDs obviously benefits from the smaller screen size but certainly well encoded discs looked excellent. The Hitachi's impressive video processing deinterlaced and scaled the standard definition images to fit the high definition panel with ease and although there was a hint of softness, overall users will be happy with the performance.
Picture QualityIt's reasonable to assume that with a built-in DVD player and Freeview, the primary viewing material on the Hitachi will be standard definition in nature, so it's a relief that the panel delivers in this area. Thanks to the smaller screen size, excellent video processing and good backlight uniformity, the Hitachi is capable of producing a very pleasing picture. Whilst there is a hint of softness to the scaling that didn't detract and could be an advantage with some programming. The picture was able to retain details in shadows and peak whites and whilst the black levels and dynamic range were limited, the image looked rather good, especially in a room with some ambient light. The screen didn't suffer from reflections, the off axis performance was passable and whilst the colours could be more accurate, the Hitachi could deliver plenty of brightness.
The Hitachi has a 1080p panel and there is a single HDMI input if you wish to take full advantage of this but it's unlikely most users will be hooking up a Blu-ray player and unfortunately the Freeview tuner doesn't support HD. This is a shame because the Hitachi is a capable high definition performer, rendering content well, even on such a small screen. In fact the increased resolution was immediately obvious; images were nicely reproduced and highly detailed with no dead pixels. Motion handling was also reasonable and the Hitachi accepted a 24p signal without any obvious issues, so if you do decide to use the Hitachi for high definition content you might be surprised at how effective it is.
Audio QualityDespite its small screen size and the relatively slim chassis, the Hitachi offers a reasonable level of sound quality. Whilst the speakers and the power of the built-in amplifiers are limited, the Hitachi is at least able to deliver a sound that is bearable. We didn't expect much in the way of stereo separation due to the small screen size and as a result the audio did have a decidedly mono presence. There are a number of different modes in the sound menu but none of them really improved the audio. Ultimately the sound produced is adequate for kitchens, bedrooms and studies, which is where the Hitachi will most likely be used and at least it doesn't sound too harsh or confined.
- 1080p images looked good
- Decent motion handling
- Good video processing
- Easy to use menus
- Good backlight uniformity
- Very low energy usage
- Good input lag
- DVD player works well
- No real calibration controls
- Remote control is badly designed
- Colour gamut could be more accurate
- Greyscale could be more accurate
Hitachi (L22DG07U) 22 Inch LED LCD DVD Combi TV Review
The Hitachi's chassis uses an all plastic construction, with a glossy plastic bezel and a matching oval stand which can't be swivelled. At the rear is a basic set of connections that should be sufficient but the included remote control could do with a re-think in terms of ergonomic design. The menu system is basic and uninspired but it's simple to navigate and informative, making setup easy.
Whilst the greyscale and gamma performance could be better, with careful setup the Hitachi is capable of a reasonable picture, despite the absence of calibration controls. The video processing is very good which is important, as most of the content that will be watched on it will be standard definition. However if you do take advantage of the 1080p panel, then the high definition performance is also very capable, with good detail and motion handling. The dynamic range is limited but the backlight is uniform and the Hitachi has enough brightness to deliver a pleasing picture in most environments.
The audio performance is as expected of a screen this small but it's listenable and manages to avoid sounding too harsh or contained. The DVD player is competent and whilst slightly slow to load discs, it's reasonably fast and effective to navigate once loaded and suitably quiet in operation. The energy efficiency is excellent, using a mere 22W, even when playing a disc, and the input lag is reasonably low at 35ms, making the Hitachi a good choice for a second gaming display. There are no real smart features but you can playback movies, photos and music via the USB port.
The Hitachi 22" LED TV/DVD Combi is a perfectly adequate performer but given you can buy the exact same TV for £30, unless you really want a glossy bezel, you'd be better off picking up the Bush instead.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £160.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level6
Ease Of Use6
Value for Money6
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