Back in May 1998 we saw the average price of a 17in monitor at around $1,200, 18 months later we have seen a major price drop - not one monitor over the $1,000 mark.
Although Hitachi ring in at $945, this is still impressive for a 17in monitor of this quality, the CM643ET managing to score perfectly on a number of tests in this latest Labs - which is no mean feat.
The outer casing of the Hitachi CM643ET is fairly large and its plain looking design doesnt help its appearance - in all the monitor has a very utilitarian look and feel to it. One positive for this case - the entire surface area is used as venting to keep the internal temperature down - one area where other monitors are let down. Located on the front fascia of the monitor are six control buttons. Upon inspection these are revealed to be the On Screen Display controls.
Unlike other displays on test this month, the OSD used by Hitachi is one of the better designs we have seen. The main menu of the display shows all 18 available options in a bright contrasting colour. Although the big difference with this OSD is the fact that is doesnt block out a portion of the screen whilst it is being viewed, this is especially handy if you need to watch the screen while making adjustments in colour or screen size.
Initial configuration of the CM643ET was negligible. The monitor took care of itself when we plugged it into our host system and there was little adjustment needed. This came to the fore under test when it scored perfectly in our screen tilt assessment. It also retained the best image when it underwent the rigorous screen regulation tests which saw many of the other contenders fall by the wayside. In fact, Hitachi can take a bow for actually scoring perfectly in local and symmetric regulation. There was no perceptible movement in the image border across all colours.
Where we marked the Hitachi down was with some annoying moir patterns and some less than pure red colour intensities. Some fine definition in the corners of the screen on some occasions was also lacking, which was curious considering on most occasions the extremities were just as focused as the centre.
In all the Hitachi performed excellently, with outstanding usability and apart from the aesthetics of the external case the monitor is an all-round pleasure to use.