With 42-inch TVs available for under £600 these days, it's fair to say that the JVC LT-42WX70's most outstanding feature is its eye-watering £2,000 price tag. It's just as well that the aspects you notice next about this extremely unusual 1080p LCD screen go at least some way towards explaining why JVC believes it can get away with charging so much for it.
Stylish and upgradeable
The LT-42WX70 is really quite stunning to look at. For starters, it's unusually thin, sticking out a mere 43mm around the back, and sporting a bezel that extends less than 25mm from the screen's edges. It also benefits from an attractive vinyl-like finish, and an unusual stand, with the TV attached to a tall, chunky pole.
The LT-42WX70 is designed to be, to some extent, upgradeable. For instance, you can buy it with or without its optional speaker bar, depending on whether you have an alternative audio solution or not. More intriguingly, you should also be able to decide whether you want your LT-42WX70 to come with a Freeview tuner, freesat tuner, DVD player, Blu-ray player, hard disk recorder, and so on.
This is possible because, instead of shipping the LT-42WX70 with any tuners or other functions built in, JVC has announced that it intends to offer a series of slinky external media-box options, offering a wide variety of different feature combinations.
The LT-42WX70's other supposed killer app is its unusually comprehensive colour-handling capability. Among other talents, it's able to produce 96 per cent of the Adobe RGB colour space. That's enough, in other words, to make the screen the most accurate reproducer of digital SLR photographs yet seen in the TV world.
While this feature is interesting, we're not sure how many people will really get the most from it, given the relative expense of dSLRs. But, since each and every LT-42WX70 has its colour settings checked and tweaked by hand before it leaves JVC's factories, its video pictures also benefit from the screen's unusually expansive inherent colour range, especially as the screen goes so far as to apply 12-bit processing to the picture's red, green and blue components.
JVC has taken care to make the LT-42WX70 unusually flexible in terms of set-up. Among the most notable of its fine-tuning features are a full-on colour-management tool, extensive gamma shifting, various noise-reduction elements, and even a system for adjusting the balance of the set's white reproduction. In other words, you should be able to optimise the LT-42WX70's pictures for almost any environment.
The LT-42WX70 also employs JVC's DynaPix HD processing system, which is particularly notable for the way it sharpens up standard-definition pictures. Plus, there's apparently 100Hz processing for making motion crisper.
All a blur
We say 'apparently' because, unfortunately, we have to kick off our assessment of the LT-42WX70's picture quality with some very bad news: it suffers noticeably from motion blur, regardless of whether or not you've got the 100Hz engine engaged.
This is made all the more infuriating by the fact that the LT-42WX70's pictures would actually be extremely sharp if they didn't smear whenever something moves across the screen. Every pixel of high-definition sources is lovingly rendered during relatively static footage, while the DynaPix HD system works its customary magic on Freeview broadcasts and DVDs, filling them with extra detail.
There's plenty more positive news too. The LT-42WX70's colours are really quite stunning, benefiting from extreme vibrancy, exceptional range and breathtaking subtlety of tone and blend.
The LT-42WX70 also produces easily the most credible black levels of any JVC LCD TV so far, providing the set's rich colours and general brightness with a perfect counterpoint, and making dark film scenes look entirely believable. As with most LCD TVs, the depth of the LT-42WX70's blacks reduces if you watch it from an angle. But the extent of the contrast reduction isn't disastrous by any means.
Having secured one of JVC's optional sound bars, we're happy to report that it produces slightly better audio than you usually get from an ultra-thin TV. That said, it doesn't have enough bass and power to rival a specialist separate sound bar, or even the separate tweeter and woofer speaker system employed in Philips' latest 9000-series TVs.
We ought to add a word of caution. At the time of writing, we couldn't get JVC to confirm any launch dates for even one of its proposed external multimedia box combinations. Even the box that was supposed to be coming out first, with a built-in Freeview tuner, seems to have disappeared from view. This makes us wonder if JVC will really be able to deliver on the LT-42WX70's claimed modular functionality.
JVC's decision to develop the high-powered, innovative and flexible LT-42WX70 seems admirable on paper. But, if a company's going to charge £2,000 for a 42-inch screen, it really needs to ensure that the accessories are available at launch, and that its pictures aren't blighted by such a fundamental flaw as motion blur.
Edited by Charles Kloet