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Hitachi Unveils 55W” PDP, DVD Recorders

A new 55W-inch plasma television monitor, a family of multi-format DVD recorders and DVD recording combination products and a pair of next-generation DVD-RAM/-R camcorders, highlighted new Hitachi Home Electronics products presented in a private showcase held for dealers several blocks from the Consumer Electronics Show.

The company said it recently started shipping, at a $9,999.95 suggested retail, a 55W-inch HDTV plasma-television monitor, model 55HDM71, which produces 20 percent more picture area than Hitachi’s 50W-inch models. The 55W-inch model will be the company’s third screen size, joining 42W- and 50W-inch models in the lineup.

The 55HDM71 offers a number of technical upgrades in terms of color reproduction, energy efficiency and product longevity.

These include a high-efficiency pixel driving technology that is said to reduce power consumption by 15 percent, without any reduction in light output. New color reproduction formulations produce 1.07 billion colors, and a high-contrast black rib structure increases the panel’s black-level performance.

The rib structure is designed to deliver a higher “picture to non-picture ratio” to produce smooth seamless images.

The Hitachi 55HDM71 offers native 1,366-by-768 display resolution (WXGA) and through Hitachi’s VirtualHD 1080p digital video processor, up-converts all incoming non-native signal sources up to 1,080 progressive before conversion to the native 768 panel display. Inputs include DVI-HDCP, component and RGB.

In DVD recorders, the company unveiled its first multi-format DVD recorder with an internal 120GB hard disk drive. Model DV-AS70U, which will ship in the third quarter at a $699.99 suggested retail, will allow recording on both rewriteable DVD-RAM and DVD-RW discs as well as on write-once DVD-R media.

Both the DVD-RW and DVD-R discs will be compatible with most models of DVD players, while DVD-RAM discs will allow expanded capabilities such as the simultaneous recording, playback and rewinding of a program. The internal hard disk drive can store up to 160 hours of video programming and playback can be either 480 interlaced or 480 progressive, depending on the user selection.

Hitachi also announced a progressive-scan DVD recorder/Hi-Fi VCR, a stand-alone multi-format progressive scan DVD recorder, a combination progressive scan DVD player/Hi-Fi VCR and a stand-alone progressive scan DVD player.

The DV-RF7U multi-format progressive scan DVD player/recorder with Hi-Fi VCR will ship in the second quarter at a $499.95 suggested retail. It offers Hitachi’s Simple Playback feature that allows fast access to an exact moment in time in specific scenes of recorded programs. It will also play back non-finalized DVD-R discs from Hitachi’s DVD camcorders and offers one-touch, real-time DVD to/from VCR transfer.

Additional convenience features include Playlist Playback, an easy method to delete, edit and rearrange recorded materials on a DVD-RAM disc, and 1.5x speed playback with audio and VCR+ programming.

The DV-PF74U ($129.99, second quarter) dual-deck VCR/DVD player is compatible with DVD-Video, DVD-R, DVD-RW (VF), CD, CD-R and CD-RW discs and will play JPEG and MP3 files.

The DVD player features Hitachi’s Disc Navigation system that allows instant access to selected chapters, variable-speed fast forward and reverse search speeds (2x-100x), 3-speed slow motion, smooth 2x playback and still picture with field and frame advance.

Hitachi will offer a stand-alone multi-format progressive scan player/recorder, the DV-RX7000U ($399.99, second quarter), and a single disc progressive scan DVD player, the DV-P745U ($69.99, second quarter).

Hitachi’s new DVD-RAM/-R-based camcorders include the UltraVision Digital DZ-MV550A and DZ-MV580A. Both models add this year a lighter chassis design and a Quick Mode menu function that allows for easier navigation through the camcorder’s menu system.

The DZ-MV580A adds an optional 16:9 widescreen filming format for DVD-RAM recording.

The camcorders again use high-quality MPEG-2 video recording compression, allowing users to select between increased recording quality or extended recording time.

With a double-sided DVD-RAM disc inserted, the camcorders record approximately 40 minutes of video in extra-fine mode (704 by 480, 3-9 Mbps VBR), 60 minutes in fine mode (704 by 480, 6Mbps CBR) or 120 minutes in standard mode (352 by 480, 3Mbps CBR). The double-sided DVD-RAM disc can also hold 1,998 still images recorded at high resolution (1, 280×960 for DZ-MV580A and 640 by 480 for DZ-MV550A).

The camcorders can record digital still photos directly to a DVD-RAM disc or to a MultiMediaCard or Secure Digital flash memory card. Depending on the model of camcorder, the compression and the selected resolution, the camcorders can record between 22 and 400 JPEG images on a 16MB memory card.

Mode DXMV55A ships in the second quarter at a $799.99 suggested retail, and the step-up model DZ-MV58A includes a 1-megapixel resolution and is slated to ship in the second quarter at an $899.99 suggested retail.