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HITACHI CPX1498MS COLOUR MONITOR

 

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WHAT OUR EXPERTS SAY...

 

It says Hitachi on the front panel but a fair number of key components inside the CPX1498 colour monitor, including the picture tube and principle video processing microchips, are actually made by Philips. Whilst weíre on the subject of deceptive appearances, the picture on the front of the instruction booklet clearly shows a monitor with an up to date FST type display tube whereas the CRT used is actually an older style device with rounded corners and a curved faceplate. Itís fine when showing a single image but the corners tend to encroach quite noticeably on quad or multi-screen displays, possibly cutting off on-screen displays and camera idents.

 

The CRT in question is a 14-inch type with a visible diagonal viewing distance of 13-inches, itís housed in a grey-coloured metal shrouded cabinet measuring 370 x 355 x 385mm, for the record it weighs in at a fairly modest 8.8kg. The claimed maximum resolution on an S-Video/YC feed is 500-lines, it operates on PAL/NTSC video inputs and has a built-in speaker. The monitor has three independent video inputs, each of which can be displayed in sequence using a built-in switcher with a variable dwell time of between 5 and 300 seconds. The on-screen display system can assign an ident or title (1 line of 16 characters) to each of the monitorís video inputs.

 

On the back panel there are four BNC sockets carrying the composite video inputs and associated output or loop-throughs. Both composite video inputs have independent audio inputs and outputs via phono sockets. The S-Video channel is input only, using a mini DIN socket and it also has itís own audio input (but no output). 

 

Build quality is satisfactory, it gets a couple of extra brownie points for the inset carry handles though the steel case and plastic back panel do not look or feel especially rugged and itís probably not a good idea to put too much weight on top of it. Inside the standard of construction on the single printed circuit board and wiring is good with all of the parts neatly laid out and easily accessible, should it require attention.

 

A tiny elliptical speaker is mounted behind a grille on the left side of the lower front panel and next to that there is a row of one large and five small buttons. The large one is the mains on/off switch the other four are used to move around the menu-driven on-screen displays, make and change settings, select inputs and adjust the volume. A LED indicator next to the on/off button glows dimly when the monitor is on, it blinks brightly when any of the control buttons are pressed and it will flash on and off if a fault condition develops.

 

SETUP AND OPERATION

The OSD main menu presents the user with five selections: number one is Input Select (manual or auto), number two is a secondary volume adjustment, menu item three covers picture setup (brightness, contrast, colour, hue, sharpness and OSD background). Menu four, Options, deals with AV input selection, switcher dwell time, input ident and OSD mode (off, auto or permanent). The fifth menu selects the on-screen display language/style (English, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian and graphic symbols).

 

Unfortunately the control system is not particularly intuitive; the instructions are densely written, a few more illustrations would have helped. The bottom line is that itís unnecessarily difficult to use; Hitachi would have done well to consult its consumer division, which does a splendid job of designing easy to use on-screen displays (OSDs) for its range of vastly more complicated televisions and video recorders

 

PERFORMANCE

Itís a shame Hitachi didnít use an FST picture tube because they generally have much lower screen reflectivity, as it is the one used in the CPX1498MS suffers quite badly from reflections and this might cause a problem in locations with nearby windows or bright lighting. Nevertheless, actual image quality is very good and resolution isnít far adrift from the manufacturerís specification. Picture alignment and geometry on our sample was spot on, focus was pin sharp to the edges, colours look natural and picture noise is negligible. The little speaker does its best and itís adequate for monitoring in reasonably peaceful surroundings.

 

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

It works well and Hitachi has struck a good balance between features and price but it has one or two rough edges. Picture tubes with coarsely rounded edges are not well suited to quad and multi-screen displays, and the screen could have done with a more efficient anti-reflective coating. The controls are okay once you get used to them but it could have been better thought out and why are there no video and audio loop-throughs for the S-Video channel? Fine for general-purpose single image display applications and some of the special functions, like the 3-channel switcher -- could prove very useful but be aware of its potential shortcomings.

 

PRODUCT ASSESSMENT

Design and design features                      ****

Circuitry and components                *****

Ease of installation and wiring            *****

Range and variety of functions            ****

Accompanying instructions              ***                            

Technical advice and backup            ??    

Value for money                         ****                          

 

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R. Maybury 2000 0208

 


 

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