The HD-D45H features an integrated Freeview tuner, which is very rare for a rear-projection TV. Presumably manufacturers assume that rear-pro buyers will be too much into their movie viewing to watch Freeview, so it's good to see Sagem aiming for the wider market. Having said that, the Sagem tuner defaulted to French when we tried setting it up, which makes setup an early challenge. It's not the first time we've seen this happen with Sagem TVs either -- we're starting to think that these TVs are reluctant to leave their Gallic homeland. You can also set recording schedules so that the Freeview tuner turns to pre-programmed channels automatically to be recorded by an external hard drive or DVD recorder.
Just like connectivity, the features on the HD-D45H are very well rounded. Around the side of the TV there's a card slot for seven different multimedia formats, including Memory Stick, MMC and SD, in addition to others. While the reader itself sticks out rather uncomfortably, its wide support for the various formats means you can take a card out of your digital camera and watch a photo slideshow without ever needing to use a PC. The only caveat is that you will have to shoot at the lower resolutions -- the shots taken with an Pentax Optio S5z at 2,560x1,920 pixels refused to play back through the TV.
Sagem may have changed the chipset at the heart of its new television, but it still chose to employ Faroudja's DCDi Deinterlacing technology to process incoming pictures. In addition to this renowned processor, it has also integrated something called 'Crystal Motion', which is essentially Sagem's version of Pixel Plus from Philips or Wega Engine from Sony. While Faroudja adds a layer of stability to the images, the Crystal Motion engine is claimed to boost contrast and brightness by analysing the incoming image and improving the weaker areas of the picture. The speakers are powerful at a combined output of 30W, with an integrated subwoofer taking care of the lower range. They also feature Dolby Virtual Surround technology. Picture-in-picture features and a variety of screen formats round off the features list.
Sagem's rear-projection TV is a real star performer across both standard and high-definition sources. Use a quality DVD player like the Denon DVD-2910 and you're rewarded with a crisp, colourful picture that won't leave you begging for a high-definition source in the same way as a flatscreen would. Having said that, we still rate the picture quality of Samsung and Sony rear-projection TVs higher, which offer cleaner pictures overall with less MPEG noise.
Sagem's digital TV tuner is basic, but it does give you the convenience of having the full seven-day Freeview guide accessible from the remote control. The guide also gives you a preview of the current channel in the corner of the screen when navigating, which is a nice touch. The image suffers from more noise than DVDs though, and they're less stable during fast-moving images. It's more down to Freeview than the television itself, but it will make you hanker for Sky HD to launch. There are also dot crawl issues, which lend strength to the accusation that the HD4 chipset is not as good as the HD2+, but it's only really noticeable when you get close to the screen. Detrimental rainbow effects are limited -- even if you suffer quite badly from the condition, you should only notice the separate colours if you intentionally flick your eyes across the screen.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield