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Hitachi Picture Master LCD: In plane and simple

Hitachi's In Plane Switching (IPS) technology claims to improve the performance of its latest LCD TVs, providing better control over the panel's backlight and enhancing black levels

The technical doctors at Hitachi claim to have found a cure for some of the annoying ailments that have traditionally plagued LCD technology -– poor contrast, restricted peripheral vision and slow response times.

The new Picture Master models, available in 32-inch and 37-inch screen sizes, claim to be the first LCD screens to feature the latest generation of In Plane Switching (IPS) technology.

The system supposedly offers the widest LCD viewing angles on the market, which means your family can spread around the room instead of piling into the centre of the sofa, Simpsons-style. IPS also provides better control over the panel's backlight, enhancing black levels and subsequent contrast. A special overdrive circuit is said to improve responsiveness, which reduces the blurred movement that often afflicts fast-paced action movies and sports programmes.

The technology is supported by Hitachi's Picture Master Engine. This picture-processing system is designed to identify and analyse over a billion colours more accurately than typical LCDs to create more realistic tones.

Both screens feature integrated Freeview and are compatible with the commonly used 720p and 1080i hi-def standards, but the WXGA (1,366x768-pixel) panel resolution means they won't be able to display the latest 1080p format used by next-generation video and games devices, such as HD DVD players or the PlayStation 3.

Connectivity includes dual HDMI inputs, so you can hook up two hi-def sources at the same time, and there are some useful convergence features, including USB hosting and memory card support. This means you can access media files directly from your PC or view digital photos from your camera's memory card.

The screens look pretty classy, with a high-gloss black frame supported by a platinum-finished speaker system at the base. But what really impressed us is the motorised swivel stand that comes as standard -- you can adjust the screen's position at the touch of a button without leaving your seat.

The 32LD9700 is available now priced around £1,200, while the 37LD9700 will be out early next year, priced at £1,500. -RA