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Tip by Michael TLV: "I finally had
a change to really get in there and calibrate one of the new Hitachi 4:3 HDTV units. My
previous report was based on some superficial observations on the 53" set. This time
I actually got inside the set to do some hard calibration. It was time to see how these
babies really perform.
The set under the knife was the 43" flavour of their 4:3 line. The one that is all
silvery in colour and comes with only one lousy single point convergence for the user.
There are three video inputs on this unit, one in the front and two in the back. Both
the rear inputs accept 480P/1080i signals. The front one is only S-video and composite
video. And as I would find later on, the new "Hitachi Squeeze" mode only works
for the component inputs. S-video cannot activate the mode. The option in the menu system
goes black ... so you can't use it. Plug in the component input and you are in business.
I'll come back to this "feature" is a bit. Well, out of the box and in
the client's living room for some two months, the convergence was extremely poor and the
client could not do anything about it. He didn't notice really ... which was a shame. I
pointed out the problems to him. Seems he didn't even use the single point convergence.
So the first order of business was to get to the service mode convergence. Off came
four screws holding the bottom panel and a brief struggle with the super velcro and the
bottom plate was off. Seems the velcro became unhinged from the plastic panel and fell
off. Next up was to remove the front wooden panel covering the guts of the TV. Another 8
screws later, the front was removed. A quick survey of the inside found the magic blue
convergence button and I was in business. I also noted the vertical size screw control and
a similar screw control for HDTV. The famous black box is in there with the three screen
trimpots and the tree focus pots. Looking at the base of the three crt's you could see the
red driver control and the green driver control. There was no Blue driver on the blue crt.
I spent the first hour or so doing the service convergence ... which is somewhat
different that your typical Toshiba/Pioneer/Sony design. With the remote, you can access
every single point on the displayed grid. This brings up the first problem ... the
highlighting of the active convergence point is so very hard to see. Sometimes I found
myself looking once, looking twice ... and still not catching where the convergence point
was. I eventually figured it out and with a combination of the keypad and the joystick. I
got the convergence under control and it most certainly tightened up the image. Things
were looking better.
Up next was to take a look at the pre-calibration grayscale. With the set in the warm
mode, the readings looked like this:
100 ire - 6750K not bad ...
090 ire - 7700K uh oh...
080 ire - 9000K I see where this is going
070 ire - 10900K
060 ire - 13800K Why do I bother?
050 ire - 16500K That's it I quit.
020 ire - Over 16500K
Ugly, ugly. Fortunately the numbers look much better when I get done with the
grayscale. Everything gets to within +/-500 of the D6500K. Better by far from where we
began. Although I have to say that I have seen better grayscale tracking ... much better
on other sets. The end results were respectable.
The final big convergence tweak was the Lens Striping ... and I should have let it
alone. I really should have. Unlike the larger RPTV's where the left side of the image was
blue and the right side was red ... we had a strange reversal of fortune here. The
alignment of the three crt's was still standard. Red ... Green ... Blue. But it was
too red on the left side and too blue on the right side. I have to conclude that the small
cabinet and the short throw distance makes these small RPTV's very different from their
larger brothers. SO a result of these readings, lens striping would have to be approached
differently than usual. By the end, I was placing strips of tape on both the outside and
the inside rims of the red crt and only the outside rim on the blue crt. The placement
looked odd, but it was the best fit for the procedure.
Now a bit of back tracking. To take the front screen off, it is necessary to unscrew
the 20 screws holding the front on ... but when you take them off, you realize the screen
is still locked down. A peak into the inside of the cabinet shows 4 more screws holding
the front screen down. So now you have to unscrew 12 more screws to completely take the
back shell off the TV. Only the bottom CRT unit remains ... took too long.
All this work just to do some lens striping. Sigh. Educational though.
Well with everything done, I put the unit back together and touched up convergence one
more time. Now it was time to play a few demo items and put the set through its paces. I
put in Gladiator ... and started to experiment with the Hitachi squeeze to see how well it
compared to the downconversion of the sharp DVD player I was using.
I should note first off that with a properly calibrated set, the gray bars in the
squeeze mode are no longer as bright as the precalibration state. They are sufficiently
dim now to be less distracting. So with Gladiator playing ... I see pale gray bars ... a
sliver of black bars and then the image. This is actually not back and no where near as
fatal as from my first impressions. If I didn't have a choice, i could get used to this.
The TV's downconversion algorithm is definitely superior to the DVD players. Very
viewable indeed. But I still preferred the 16:9 stretch vision that filled the screen.
Images were definitely looking good.
The owner came back upstairs to see the end results and the smile on his face along
with his friend ... said all that needed to be said.
Amazingly, even Satellite looked great now. Both DSS and Expressvu.
Bottom line ... not a bad set at all. But it needs work out of the box.