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JVC LT-47P789 LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Monday, 01 December 2008
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Television and Movies
Given the issues I encountered during video setup, I entered my real-world evaluations with some skepticism about the LT-47P789’s performance. With Blu-ray and HDTV content, it was immediately evident that the TV needed further picture adjustment. Those awkward settings that looked right with test patterns were not right with real-world content. Colors were oversaturated, and blacks and whites (especially blacks) were still being crushed. Using my reference LCD as a guide, I further tweaked the color, brightness, and picture (contrast) controls, and ultimately I was much happier with the results. When set up properly, the LT-47P789’s color actually looks pleasingly natural. Blue leans a bit cyan, but otherwise the color points are close to those of my accurate reference display. Greens, in particular, don’t have that cartoonish, neon quality that we see so often in flat panels. As for color temperature, the JVC’s Warm mode is still somewhat cool with brighter content: Bright whites have a bluish tint, and there’s some red push in skintones, but it’s not excessive. With darker content, the LT-47P789’s color temperature is more accurate: The nighttime skies in The Corpse Bride (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), for instance, did not veer overly blue but had a neutral palette.

With HD sources, the TV has excellent detail. And, even at a minimum backlight setting, it’s capable of great light output, which makes the TV a good fit for a brighter room. These factors, combined with the pleasing color, enabled the JVC to excel with HDTV signals – especially sports programming and brightly lit sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and The Office. These traits also paid dividends with brighter scenes in Blu-ray discs like Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), Ghost Rider (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), and Kingdom of Heaven (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). In the processing realm, the LT-47P789 passes the 1080i video and film tests on the HD HQV Benchmark Blu-ray disc (Silicon Optix), which means it correctly deinterlaces 1080i content and picks up the 3:2 cadence in film sources. With my Blu-ray player set for 1080i output, the JVC cleanly rendered the staircase in the opening of chapter eight of Mission Impossible III (Paramount Home Video), which can be filled with moiré if a TV’s processing is sub-par. At the end of the chapter six of Ghost Rider, there’s a clear shot of the front of an RV, whose grille can also show moiré. The JVC didn’t render the grille as cleanly as my reference display, but otherwise it did a nice job with 1080i film content. Likewise, it ably handled my 1080i video-based test: a DVR recording of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Whereas many TVs struggle with all the diagonal white lines and stripped shirts in this demo, the JVC’s performance was on par with the better models I’ve seen.

When I moved to standard-definition content, the LT-47P789 did a solid job upconverting 480i DVD and SDTV signals to its native 1080p resolution, producing a fair amount of detail. However, it was a bit less reliable in the deinterlacing department. With the HQV Benchmark DVD (Silicon Optix), the JVC was a little slow to pick up the 3:2 cadence, and it couldn’t pass many of the advanced cadence tests. With my Gladiator DVD (DreamWorks Home Entertainment) demo, it didn’t produce any blatant moiré, but there were more jaggies in the many diagonals of the Coliseum archways. Likewise, while it passed the torturous Venetian blind test in chapter four of The Bourne Identity (Universal Home Video), the TV created more jaggies than usual in my demo. During casual viewing of SDTV and DVD sources, though, I didn’t notice a lot of artifacts, but you may want to mate the TV with a good progressive-scan or upconverting DVD player just to be safe. Digital noise was occasionally evident in darker-colored backgrounds and light-to-dark transitions, but it wasn’t excessive; the digital noise reduction control does a nice job reducing noise without softening the picture. The MPEG noise reduction, meanwhile, clearly softens the image and should be avoided.

Next, I reached for my iPod to try out the TeleDock. The TV does not automatically detect the insertion of an iPod and launch the necessary onscreen control interface. You must press the remote’s iPod button, which pulls up a simple onscreen menu with options for Music Play, Music Shuffle Play, and Video Play. The Music Play function launches the first song in your song library and will play the entire catalog sequentially, while Music Shuffle Play shuffles through your song library. Likewise, the Video Play option begins with the first video in your video library. Using the JVC remote’s transport controls, you can play, pause, or stop tracks, fast-forward or rewind, and skip tracks (using the left/right arrow buttons). During music playback, the TV screen shows artist, song, and time information; I’d like to see an option to have the screen go black to save energy. Unfortunately, the onscreen menu isn’t advanced enough to display your actual iPod menus, so you can’t select playlists or search for specific songs or videos. Navigating video content is a less-than-intuitive process. The owner’s manual is vague on the subject, but through trial and error I figured out that the remote’s up/down buttons move you through video categories (movies, TV shows, music videos) while the left/right buttons move you through episodes. If you’ve loaded many different TV shows onto your iPod, there’s no way to easily jump to the next show within the TV Show category; you have to skip through every episode of one show to get to the next show on the list. JVC has provided a workaround to address the limitations of the onscreen menu: Pressing the remote’s PCON button gives you the ability to manually navigate the iPod directly from the device itself while still using the JVC remote to control volume, stop, pause, etc. If you wish to view photos stored on your iPod, you must be in PCON mode, and you can only view the photos as a slideshow. Overall, the PCON method does give you more navigation flexibility, but it also means you have to physically walk over to the TV to change selections, which defeats at least one benefit of the integrated dock.

When accessing iPod content, you can scroll between the TV’s different picture and sound modes, but you can’t make any fine adjustments. Obviously, image quality is highly dependent on the quality of the source material in your iTunes library. Episodes of Californication and House that I purchased from the iTunes Store looked pretty good – they were certainly cleaner and possessed better detail and color than I get through my standard iPod dock with S-video output. The iPod display screen has its own four aspect-ratio options (regular, full, 4:3 mini, and 16:9 mini), none of which correctly fills the entire screen without improperly stretching the image. If your iPod is set to output video in widescreen mode, you’re going to get a window box with bars on every side; there’s an aspect ratio to stretch the sides but not one to zoom in on the window to fill the whole screen – even though this mode does exist in the TV’s general aspect-ratio options. On the plus side, the TeleDock charges your iPod while docked.

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