The 36SDX88B is the older model and the 36SDX01S (which I own) is newer. I recall last fall when I was looking for a 36"direct view HD-ready set that I read a review of the older one on etown (BB) but there was no sign of the newer one except on the Hitachi web site.
After saying all that, I don't remember what the differences were, but I do recall that the cases were different colors (who cares?).
Are you still seeing the older one out there and available?
I don't remember the exact reason why, but I saw both models at a show last year when the 01 was just coming out. I could see a difference in the picture quality with the older one being noticably better. The Hitachi Rep there confirmed that the newer tubes were not as good as the older ones. The difference is easier to see when running a computer signal at 800x600. I think the 88 model had more of a "data grade" tube like the RCA MM series with a sharper dot pitch.
The 01 does have a nice silver case, but otherwise I don' think there are any other differences feature-wise...
The 36SDX01S has the same pix tube as the RCAs and handles 800 x 600 just fine, either from a computer or from the RCA DTC-100 STB, both of which I use with the 36SDX01S.
While I never saw the 36SDX88B, I did compare the Hitachi to an RCA MM36100 and a Toshiba (forgot the model # of their HD-ready 36") in a properly lit showroom. The Hitachi and RCA looked nearly identical with an HD input, but the RCA lacked a line doubler and the Toshiba lacked a SVGA DB15 input at that time. The Hitachi was about $400 less than the RCA and $200 less than the Toshiba.
The RCA and Hitachi both have data grade pix tubes with 0.77 dpi while a "standard" 36" set had 0.99.
Hitachi does make a nearly identical analog 36" TV with a standard pix tube. The difference is the lack of "DIGITAL" directly under the "ULTRAVISION" label on the front of the set. In all other respects (except PQ) the non-digital set looks just like the HD ready digital set. Obviously there is a corresponding price difference of about $800.
[This message has been edited by Budget_HT (edited 07-17-2001).]
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