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43FDX01B Calibration

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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. Double shame.

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.