JVC has certainly been busy with its latest LCD range. So far we've seen little budget screens, big 'Full HD' screens and a couple of mid-sized models in between.
The results haven't always been 100 per cent successful, granted -- but there have been enough highlights to have us hoping for great things from the brand's best-specified set yet: the 42-inch £1,100 LT-42DV8BJ.
The 42DV8 gets off to a good start with a fairly dramatic retro design and a trio of HDMIs among its connections. What's more, these HDMIs are made to the latest v1.3 standard, meaning the set can handle such HDMI 1.3-exclusive features, such as the Deep Colour format (which increases the colour range) and automatic lip-synch -- rare talents in today's TV marketplace.
Also rare is the sheer quantity of picture processing hiding under the 42DV8's bonnet. For starters there's JVC's DynaPix HD system, which combines a suite of different processing tools, including digital image scaling for enhanced fine detail and cleaner scaling of sources to the screen's Full HD resolution, automatic colour correction and automatic contrast optimisation.
We wouldn't bother going into all this, of course, if it didn't actually work blindingly well. For instance, HD pictures look sensationally clear, phenomenally detailed and crisper than arctic snow. And colours enjoy a richness and vibrancy that's rare indeed and which adds a terrific sense of solidity to anything you watch. Even EastEnders starts to look like the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
Perhaps the most significant feature in separating the 42DV8 from the pack, though, is its 100Hz engine. When watching fast objects, like the heroic England rugby team charge across the screen, it's impossible not to be struck by just how fluid and sharp their movements look. The age-old LCD problem with resolution loss over moving objects is hugely reduced; not, perhaps, by quite as much as with relatively costly TVs like Philips' 32PFL9632D and Samsung's LE52F96, which go so far as to use radical new backlighting systems. But in terms of results achieved through processing alone, the 42DV8's 100Hz efforts are the best we've seen.
The 42DV8 also impresses with its audio. Its speakers may not look up to much, but somehow they churn out bass and power levels that most flat TVs can only dream about.
Great though JVC's 100Hz engine is at tackling one of LCD's age-old problems, tragically the set falls prey to two others rather more readily than we'd like.
The set's black levels, for instance, are merely average. This means dark scenes like Captain Jack's swordfight with Barbossa in his treasure cave during Pirates of the Caribbean take place behind a gentle but distracting grey mist that hides background details and leaves the image feeling slightly flat.
The other big problem concerns that old chestnut of viewing angles, as watching the 42DV8 from the side results in a very noticeable reduction in contrast and colour saturation.
Slightly less overt issues we have with the set are that it doesn't polish up standard definition sources quite as well as it might and won't take in 1080p/24fps feeds from suitable HD DVD and Blu-ray players.
Buy a 42DV8 -- valued at around £1,100 -- and you will probably be perfectly happy with it; it's a thoroughly decent TV. In fact, in its handling of LCD's motion problems it's even a cutting edge one. It's just a shame that the cutting edge bits strangely emphasise the bits where it's lagging slightly behind. Oh, well -- now they've cracked the motion problem, maybe JVC will focus on black levels next time.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire