Taking a look at the horizontal resolution, at 480i, the HDMI and component inputs exhibited clear aliasing (an artifact that makes fine detail look much coarser). At all other resolutions, the component input showed significant rolloff, as did HDMI at 1080i. However, HDMI looked very good at 480p and 720p, so I recommend using those resolutions as much as possible with this set.
Once the adjustments were out of the way, it was time to watch some real program material. HD from my Dish Network satellite receiver/DVR looked quite good overall, even though it’s a component connection and most of the programming is 1080i.
The only real concern I had was with the color, which looked somewhat oversaturated on programs such as Sunrise Earth from Discovery HD Theater, even though I had set the saturation correctly. Turning the saturation down somewhat made a big difference. Also, the glacier ice in one of the Sunrise Earth episodes looked much bluer than I remembered it being on other displays.
DVDs looked great from the Denon DVD-5910’s DVI output at 480p or 720p; they looked a bit softer at 1080i. Flesh tones were lifelike, and colors were rich and vibrant. Dark detail in movies such as Master and Commander was not great, but there was nary a sign of false contouring to be seen, except perhaps a hint in the heavy fog banks encountered by H.M.S. Surprise.
The performance of the Hitachi’s video processor on the HQV Benchmark DVD (480i, component connection) was a mixed bag. It did very well on the vertical detail, picture detail, and jaggies tests, but only fair on the waving flag and cadences tests. The 3:2 pulldown detection/compensation was excellent, but it completely failed on film mixed with horizontally scrolling text. The noise-reduction control didn’t seem to do much, but noise wasn’t a problem in any event.
Despite its lower-than-usual black level, the 42HDX62 left me wishing it was lower still. The black of space in the Star Trek and Star Wars movies was not as inky as I’d like, and the black letterbox bars on 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 movies didn’t disappear entirely.
After I connected my rooftop antenna, the tuner’s auto channel-scan routine proceeded very quickly and changing channels was also very fast.
Overall, the Hitachi 42HDX62 is a fine plasma display. It offers a host of useful features, outstanding connectivity, and excellent picture quality. Its black level is better than most, which should satisfy all but the pickiest. At $5500, the 42HDX62 is expensive for a 42-inch plasma. V, Inc. offers a good 50-inch panel for less than half that, but without an integrated ATSC tuner or many of the other features Hitachi offers. If you’re considering an upscale plasma display, the Hitachi 42HDX62 deserves a long look.