capsule review

Hitachi P50X902 50-Inch LCD HDTV

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder P50X902

    TechHive Rating

    Cool features can't compensate for the Hitachi P50X902's high price or disappointing picture.

If you ignore the soft, occasionally off-color picture and the $3200 (as of November 4, 2008) price tag, Hitachi's P50X902 HDTV has plenty of appeal. But the set's image issues and high price prevent us from recommending it.

This model is easy to set up: All of the connectors are conveniently placed, and the setup wizard asks the right questions. The remote is fully backlit and programmable, and the manual's intelligent use of illustrations help you find elusive buttons on the remote. You can also plug in an SD Card to look at your digital photos, too. But you don't get a quick-access menu of frequently used options; and the TV makes changing inputs needlessly difficult.

The P50X902 features the TV Guide On Screen System. Press the remote's Guide button, and up comes a full-screen menu bearing the TV Guide logo and looking nothing like Hitachi's own on-screen controls. Using this pleasant-looking, easy-to-navigate environment, you can browse local and cable channels and search for programs using various criteria. If you select a future show that you want to watch, the software will remind you when it's coming up (if you're watching TV at the time). Think of it as a DVR that doesn't record. Of course, if you have satellite or a cable box and don't use the TV's tuner, the TV Guide On Screen System won't do you any good.

This set's real problems involve the screen's display. In PC World Test Center tests, our judges consistently noted slightly blurry images with little detail on the edges. The picture lacked contrast, too: Colors were dull and images lacked the three-dimensional pop we saw on competing models. Facial tones looked natural.

The P50X902 sounds a lot better than it looks. With the volume turned all the way up, the speakers strained a bit to hit the louder organ notes and higher frequencies on a movie soundtrack, but not badly. Turning the volume down a little bit fixed the problem, though it also diminished the organ's full oomph effect. Quiet sounds were great at both volumes, with a reasonably good surround effect.

The extras may sound tempting, but fight the temptation. You can buy a better HDTV (like the Samsung PN50A760 or the LG 52LG70) for less money. Heck, you can almost buy two plasma-screen LG 50PG30 units for the price of one Hitachi.

This story, "Hitachi P50X902 50-Inch LCD HDTV" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Cool features can't compensate for the Hitachi P50X902's high price or disappointing picture.

    Pros

    • Has TV Guide On Screen EPG
    • Mute button turns on closed captions

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Disappointing image quality
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