With the way in which Plasma prices have fallen since I first got one nearly 3 years ago, I knew it was only a matter of time before I bought another one. I’ve had my eye on the Hitachi Plasma’s for quite some time now and I was so ready to pull the trigger last summer. The PD32A3000 32″ Plasma was the perfect model for my bedroom – it had great picture quality and looked extremely good. But I held off.
For one reason after another, I just waited. And then, just when I finally decided that it was time to get it, Hitachi announced an upgrade, the PD5000. With a higher luminance (i.e. brighter screen) and built-in tuner, to name but a few improvements – I was sold. I couldn’t take it anymore and finally threw down my credit card. My bedroom finally has a Plasma TV. Yeah!
The PD5000 has excellent aesthetics. It comes in an extremely attractive metallic color which is much more of a darker gray than the brighter silver that many other Plasmas come in. Initially, I didn’t like it as it seemed too dark. But the color is actually very good. It’s not overly sharp so that it’s distracting and it is very easy to match with any existing furniture or room.
The PD5000 comes with both a stand and a wall mount. I especially like the stand because it swivels. Thus, you can move the Plasma into different angles. This is a really outstanding design given that Plasma TV’s are still pretty heavy and not so easy to turn or move.
Access to the input panels at the back is easy to reach and with the swivel, it’s a breeze to connect and disconnect any peripheral devices. There are AV inputs for most everything and even serial inputs for RGB inputs like PCs. Although Plasma designs today seem relatively standard, there are not many complaints on the PD5000. It lacks the luster of the beautiful new Sony Plasmas with their “glass” frame. But, the PD5000 is no slouch and deserves some credit. I like it much better than many of the other Plasma’s available out there.
Bear in mind again that this is the 32″ model. I had my mind purely set on getting a 32″ model for the bedroom because there is just not enough room to put in a 42″ model. In truth, the price differential between the 32″ and the 42″ isn’t very much so a 42″ seems like a better buy. But I wanted something that would fit my room and a 32″ model is a perfect fit so I still opted for that.
As far as 32″ Plasmas go, the PD5000 is one of the best if not the best one out there. Ok, first, before I get into the image, I must back track a little. I did consider looking at 32″+ LCD options as well. I compared side-by-side, from different angles, looking at TV images – then DVD, sound, etc. At the end of the day, I just felt that Plasma, and more importantly, this Hitachi PD5000 Plasma was the best. I liked the Sony 30″ KLV-30MR1 LCD TV as well but while the images are slightly brighter, some of the image quality was poor, particularly when watching TV. Strangely, because the LCD screen is brighter, it seemed to exaggerate the blurriness of standard TV, especially here in Asia when satellite signals still look pretty hazy. I didn’t like that. As for the talk that a Plasma will end up having a shorter life. That life is still like 25,000 hours or something. If you do the math and presume you watch 5 hours a day all year long, that’s still 13+ years. I don’t think that’s going to bother me much. I’ll be surprised if I don’t buy a new TV in the next 5 years! (There are other reasons as well why I chose this model and I’ll get into that a bit later.)
The main strength of the PD5000 must be the quality of its image. Although it might be argued that Plasmas are relatively similar, when you compare the PD5000 against other Plasma TVs, it is sharper, brighter, has less ‘snow’, and has more vibrant colors than any others. You do have the option of calibrating individual colors but this is probably not necessary as the default settings are already very good. This is a very subjective matter but if you want to see it for yourself, just go to the store and do a side-by-side comparison and make up your own mind. For me, the quality was just there.
Part of this quality is the actual image itself. One thing that I really like about the Hitachi Plasmas are their different viewing angles. Of course, in order to fit the widescreen format, Plasmas tend to stretch or zoom some pictures (like regular TV for example) in order to fill-in the whole screen. My older Fujitsu Plasma tends to stretch out the images so that people look FAT! Not so with the Hitachi, you got quite a number of different picture modes and the Panoramic mode is the best and does a very good job with regular TV pictures. This is a big plus.
One of the big swing factors in my decision to get the Hitachi PD5000 was the built-in tuner. It just makes things hassle free. Most other Plasmas, including past Hitachi models came with a separate box that was a tuner/AV center. The PD5000 has everything built-in. At first, I was closely thinking about the Sony, but apparently, the Sony tuner that comes with the LCD and Plasma is a PAL only tuner. That means I can’t receive certain NTSC channels (NTSC countries probably come with only a NTSC tuner). In Hong Kong, we have both signals, and this was a great annoyance. I like that Hitachi made everything so easy by building everything into the unit.
The PD5000 has two built-in speakers (that are detachable and that have interchangeable faceplates). These speakers are more than adequate for day-to-day TV viewing. Even for movies, they more than serve the purpose. There are additional sound enhancement features like built-in SRS Bass and surround sound modes that help enhance the quality. But if you want anything close to a theatre experience, you’ll want to purchase something extra and separate. The different sound modes do help make it somewhat better but is still probably not enough for a true movie experience.
The remote control, while adequate enough, is nothing special to write home about. It is a standard remote without any special features. I don’t know why, but I just always expect more in terms of the remote, especially when I buying a pretty big piece of equipment like a Plasma. Having said that, the remote that came with my Fujitsu Plasma was the absolute worst one I have ever gotten. So in comparison, I suppose the Hitachi isn’t that bad.
That being said, what is there to complain about having a Plasma TV? It’s pretty cool. Given what I wrote above, if you are in the market for a smaller Plasma (32″ in this case), the Hitachi PD5000 should be your right pick as of now. It’s picture clarity, images, input, built-in tuner, etc. all makes this the best choice and your ESSENTIAL multimedia screen. Sure LCD and other plasmas will eclipse it one day, but not now. I’d definitely recommend this one to others.