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Hitachi brings feature-packed, 1.5-inch thick LCD line to U.S.

Hitachi announced a line of 1.5-inch thick LCD HDTVs at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.

Hitachi's 1.5 LCDs are just that thick. Hitachi

Having already debuted its line of ultraslim, flat-panel LCD-based HDTVs in Singapore and Japan, Hitachi finally announced its availability stateside at CES. The models, which comprise three separate series of three screen sizes each, all have a depth of 1.5 inches, which is the thinnest we've seen from any flat-panel LCD. The closest competitor among announced (non-concept) models is LG's 42LGX Super Slim (1.75 inches), which joins the Hitachis in trumping JVC's "world's thinnest" (2.9 inches) models and the current champ, Sharp's LC-D64U series (3.25 inches). Personally, we don't see much use in making current inches-thin flat-panel displays a couple inches thinner, but there's no denying that trend, embodied in extreme by models like Sony's OLED (3mm) and Pioneer's concept plasma (9mm).

Watch the LGX Super Slim HDTV video on CNET TV.

Hitachi packed a passel of features into its slim LCDs. The 37- and 42-inch models from each series include 1080p resolution as well as the company's version of 120Hz technology with de-judder, which Hitachi calls "Reel20." We've reviewed similar technology in models from Sony, Toshiba and Samsung, for example, and we're curious to see how the Hitachi version stacks up. Other video-quality features include a dynamic contrast circuit and "3D Color Management," both of which are said to optimize picture quality on the fly.

Notably, however, all nine of these models take advantage of a loophole in the FCC tuner mandate that excepts so-called HDTV monitors from the requirement to include an ATSC tuner for grabbing over-the-air HDTV signals. In other words, none of them include any tuner in the chassis of the panel itself, although the main difference between the flagship S-series line and the step-down lines is the inclusion of an "Audio Video Center" that includes a ATSC/NTSC tuner, three HDMI inputs, and two component inputs. The Center, with which all nine models are compatible, will be sold separately (price TBD).

Hitachi's "1.5" LCDs start with the Director's Series models, the UTX902 series, including the 32-inch UT32X802, the 37-inch UT37X802, and the 42-inch UT42X802. Next up in price is the UTV702 series, including the 32-inch UT32V702, the 37-inch UT37V702, and the 42-inch UT42V702 (we're not sure what the difference is between these two series, although we suspect they'll be available at mass-market and specialty dealers, respectively). Finally, there's the UTS402 series, the "S-series" that includes the Audio Video Center, available in the 32-inch UT32S402, the 37-inch UT37S402, and the 42-inch UT42S402. The chart below breaks down the details.

Hitachi did not announce pricing by press time, but we expect these sets to sell for a premium compared to other similarly sized LCDs.