Flatscreen owners might scoff at the idea of rear projection, but there are many benefits of these larger TVs. They produce a richer, more natural image most suited to movies, plus they are economical in terms of screen size for your money. Sagem has been promoting rear projection over the past few years, producing televisions that are not only good value, but have excellent performance.
Technology marches at a relentless pace though, and this new HD-D45H fills demand for a more fully featured model. Texas Instruments' HD2+ chipset has been replaced from the last range for the HD4 model, there are two HDMI inputs that pre-empt demand for high definition, and a Freeview tuner to meet current demand for digital television. In terms of features, it's got everything, and the performance is noteworthy for standard-definition pictures -- DVDs look so good that you might forget about HD completely.
The HD-D45H is big, but its frame and speakers are thin and emphasise the sheer size of the screen. What's more problematic is its depth of nearly 40cm, which will need to be supported by a large stand. The television doesn't sit high enough to reach eye-level, but plenty of specialist supports are available -- Sagem sells a custom-built one for around £300. The speakers screw into the side of the TV via brackets, but they can be left off the television if you're using a home cinema system. This is a nice touch, as we'd expect an owner of this type of TV to have a surround setup. The subwoofer is situated below the TV, so it can't be removed, but it looks classy contrasting silver to the black of the TV.
Connectivity on the Sagem is truly first class. The television has two HDMI inputs (something of a rarity at the moment), which means you'll be able to connect your Sky HD box and a Blu-ray player simultaneously. High-definition content can also be fed in via the component video or VGA sockets that have been included on the back panel -- either is perfect for the Xbox 360 playback in HD.
The HD-D45H features an integrated Freeview tuner, but if you're a Sky subscriber and have current-generation games consoles, you'll be needing plenty of Scart sockets. Again, Sagem comes up trumps as it has provided three of these inputs, all of which are RGB video compatible. RGB provides a much crisper and more colourful picture than standard Scart, and this generous allocation is much better than most other televisions. There are also S-video and composite inputs, although their poor signal quality means that you'll want to use them as a last resort. There's also an SPDIF digital audio input/output, which allows for a number of different uses, one of which is sending Freeview sound to your AV receiver in high quality digital format.
Sagem's remote control is poorly labelled, which ultimately makes operation of the television a hassle. At the top of the remote are two buttons -- one for regular TV operation and one for the digital functions. Sometimes, you can be pressing a button that relates to the Freeview channels and nothing will happen, because you have to press 'DTV' first. Having said that, it lets you know which mode you're in by a flashing light underneath the two buttons -- it's just a pain having to constantly switch modes. It also looks expensive in a heavy piano-black finish, whereas Sagem had previously chosen cheaper remotes that were manufactured out of cheaper grey plastic.
The HD-D45H features a projector behind the subwoofer, and it's here that we find the big improvement in terms of features. Sagem has employed the brand new Texas Instruments' HD4 DLP chipset, whereas previous models in this category used the HD2+ chip. Certainly, newer is better, but there have been some complaints from users that the HD4 is a more mass-market, lower quality version of the HD2+ chipset. While we were unable to do a side-by-side comparison, we did notice some small picture artefacts, which are explained in the Performance section below. Users can also manually change the projector's bulb when the included one runs out.