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JVC LT-42X788 LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 November 2007
Article Index
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Television And Movies
The LT-42X788 arrived just in time for the start of football season, my favorite time of the year. I began my review session by evaluating the picture using the component video inputs. I watched a number of college and pro games, both in 720p and 1080i, and took in a few MLB playoff games, as well. The first thing to grab with all of these sporting events was how natural the grass looked compared with most LCD TVs – and even compared with my Epson LCD projector. None of the three color points looked too far off the mark, but green was especially impressive because it’s the one that is usually most exaggerated. Add in the fairly accurate color temperature in the Theater mode, and this was one of more natural-looking LCDs I’ve seen, in both color and skin tones. Just because the colors weren’t exaggerated didn’t mean the image wasn’t engaging. The combination of good light output and solid blacks gave the TV excellent contrast, and HD sporting events looked warm and rich, even at night. That trend continued with prime-time HDTV programming on CBS and ABC: Brighter HD content really had some nice pop to it without seeming cartoonish or unnatural. The image wasn’t as razor-sharp as that of other LCDs I’ve seen, but it certainly wasn’t lacking in detail, either.

Sure, an LCD can impress with bright, colorful HDTV, but what about darker, more complex high-definition movies on HD DVD and Blu-ray? The JVC did a solid job with dark scenes from V for Vendetta (Warner Home Video), Batman Begins (Warner Home Video), and the “Caves” episode of Planet Earth (BBC Video): the black level was a little high, so the overall image contrast did not hold up as well as it did with brighter HDTV content, but it was still good for an LCD, and the TV did a very nice job rendering the fine black details and textures in V’s black-on-black attire. Kingdom of Heaven (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Buena Vista Home Entertainment) are two of my favorite HD discs. These transfers are fantastic, and the JVC did nothing to detract from that. Again, blacks were a tad high in the darkest scenes, but the overall image had solid depth and dimension. My Silicon Optix test disc showed that, through the component video input, the TV correctly deinterlaced 1080i and picked up the 3:2 sequence with film-based sources; with real-world TV and film content, I saw no blatant deinterlacing artifacts when feeding the TV a 1080i signal.

I also appreciated how clean the LT-42X788’s picture looked, both with HD sources and when I stepped down to standard-def DVD and TV sources. I saw very little digital noise in background colors and light-to-dark transitions, and facial contours were nice and smooth. I could sit surprisingly close to the LT-42X788 and still enjoy a clean, attractive picture. In chapter 10 of Ladder 49 (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), as Joaquin Phoenix’s character searches for an unconscious girl in a dark, smoke-filled room, the smoke looked like smoke, not pixels, and I was able to make out the fine black details that are often lost by an LCD. In the “Whole Truth” episode of Lost: The Complete Second Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), as Ana-Lucia and Sayid sit in front of a fire, the dark, reddish transitions between their fire-lit faces and the black background looked very natural.

When I made the switch to HDMI, I found myself feeling less wowed by the picture quality. Don’t get me wrong, the image still looked good with all types of signals: colors and skin tones were still wonderfully natural, the picture had nice detail, and deinterlacing of 1080i and 480i signals was good. Admittedly, the picture was somewhat noisier through the HDMI inputs: light-to-dark transitions weren’t quite as smooth as they had been through component video, and I saw more background noise in both HD and standard-definition DVDs. It wasn’t excessive, and turning on the Digital VNR noise-reduction feature provided some improvement. Still, I couldn’t quite pinpoint the qualitative difference between HDMI and component video … until I did some direct A/B tests using my DirecTV set-top box. As I jumped between the two, the component video image just seemed to have better contrast. Whites popped more, colors looked richer, and the overall image was more three-dimensional, more inviting. I experimented with the picture controls to see if I could coax more contrast out of the HDMI inputs, but ultimately the component video signal just looked better with most types of material.

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