Hitachi 43FDX01 B 43-Inch Rear-Projection HD Monitor

Tabletop HD: small size, small price.

As the HDTV market grows, so do the variations in the types of sets we have to choose from. Here is an entry from Hitachi that has a 4:3-shaped image and is classified as an HD monitor. There's some discussion on whether the conventional 4:3 aspect ratio is preferable to the newer 16:9 shape. I have been of the opinion that, if you're going to watch HD, it should be on a wide screen, but the 43FDX01 B and other receiver/monitors have slowly convinced me that I should take a good second look.

Hitachi intends for you to put the 43-inch 43FDX01 B in a bookcase or on a stand. Since the set is only 20 inches deep, it could also fit in a wall unit.

Hitachi's 43-inch monitor is listed as a tabletop projection TV. Out of the box, my first impression was that it looked very short. In fact, the distance from the screen's center to the floor is only 22 inches. If you sit on the floor, this could be good. The audio might be bad, but you'd be comfortable. No, Hitachi intends for you to use a bookcase or an optional stand to raise the TV. The physical dimensions—it's only 20 inches deep—also allow you to set the display in a wall unit. I find that this is a very convenient design for smaller locations. The recommended viewing height is 36 inches, so it works.

Removing the protective shipping film that's stuck to the screen proved to be a perplexing task, but it did protect the screen. The first time you turn the TV on, an automatic setup screen appears to guide you through the wiring of your system. The question-and-answer screens are very easy to go through, and there's a single line drawing on how to connect the unit to your system. The graphics are very hard to read over the input video Hitachi uses as a background; however, for a first turn, it will work. This is all great, but there are serious limitations to the inputs and outputs of this unit. The 43FDX01 B's access panel on the back only provides you with two inputs of any kind. There are standard S-video, composite, and wide-bandwidth Y/Pb/Pr inputs on each input panel; unfortunately, you can only connect one at a time. The front panel only has audio and composite or S-video inputs. Be warned: With no signal present, the unit will appear to be turned off, with no visible snow. This could be very confusing. With this limitation, I'd recommend using a receiver to do the switching. There is only one L/R audio output to connect to your audio system for external speakers.

The back panel is very limited: There are S-video, composite, and Y/Pb/Pr inputs on each input panel, but you can only connect one at a time.
There are two antenna inputs with a converter-box output to allow you to use the output of the box on the B input to view and record. The Y/Pb/Pr inputs will accept sources like a satellite receiver, a progressive-scan DVD player, or a DTV set-top box. The set has full-time progressive-scanning, which upconverts the NTSC interlaced signal to 480p for the display. Although this unit will display 1080i, it puts gray bars at the top and bottom of the picture. Hitachi down-samples the 1080i signal to 810 active lines so that they can add the difference of 270 lines to provide a gray raster scan of the areas above and below the 16:9 image area, effectively minimizing burn-in. Watching a dark HD signal, I found the gray to be quite annoying. Somehow the mood of a drama series doesn't convey well with the gray bands. The gray is there, we're told, to minimize the uneven wear from the widescreen raster. You should note the warning in several places in the documentation that pattern burns constitute misuse and are not covered by warranty.
43FDX01 B 43-Inch Rear-Projection HD Monitor
Dealer Locator Code HIT