When flat panel TVs first went on sale, it was pretty common to find them without TV tuners built in, and sometimes even without speakers. As time went on and flat panels became marketed as TV sets, we saw them start to incorporate tuners. These days, it's pretty rare to find a screen that's missing this vital component.
Well, you've found one. The Hitachi UT42-XV700 lacks a TV tuner and the reason is simple: it's been removed to save space. Because this TV is just 35mm thick, there isn't room for 'extras' -- or as some might argue, 'essentials'. So, with no tuner, this TV is more of a screen than a TV, designed to work with an external source.
At the launch event, Hitachi told us the UT42 will be available in June or July, priced around £2,000.
Quite simply, the Hitachi UT42 -- the 'UT' standing for 'ultra-thin', of course -- really is quite a remarkable sight, when viewed in profile, especially. From the front, it sports a bog-standard, shiny black bezel and no real disruptions to the sleek facia. There's a small and unobtrusive speaker on the front, which is hardly even noticeable. On the right hand side of the screen, sitting on the bottom of the bezel, is a power switch and that's your lot.
At the back, there is similar level of sparseness: you get just two inputs in the form of a single HDMI and a lone VGA port with an accompanying audio input. Apart from a power socket, that really is it.
The remote control reflects this lack of inputs and built-in features. It's a simple little thing with just 19 buttons -- four of those are the directional controls for the menu.
At this point, we start to run into some problems. It's not so much the TV, but with what to say about it. Because it's such a simple device, there isn't a great deal to mention. The LCD panel is a 100Hz, 1080p (24p compatible) using IPS-alpha technology to improve viewing angles and with a new backlight diffuser to improve the distribution of light across the screen.
If you want to watch Freeview on this TV, you'll need an external decoder; it will also need to be one with HDMI out on it. In the future, Hitachi will sell a media box that will feature a built-in tuner and a host of connections for hooking up other equipment. Of course, if you have a Freeview PVR with HDMI out, then you could simply buy an HDMI splitter box to connect all your HD gear.
Setting up the TV is dead simple, as you might imagine. There is no tuning to be done, so all you really need to worry about is the picture settings, balancing the brightness and other controls, which didn't take us very long at all.