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JVC LT-47P789 LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Monday, 01 December 2008
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Given the iPod’s huge impact on nearly every segment of the home entertainment space, it’s surprising that TV manufacturers have not embraced direct iPod integration en masse. Sure, many have embraced the integration of digital media in general, through USB ports, memory-card readers, and streaming media. But few have taken an iPod-specific approach. Maybe that’s because many of the big names in TV also sell Windows-based PCs, and they’d really prefer you stream your music and videos via that platform. Whatever the reason, JVC has decided to buck the trend and develop a complete line of LCD HDTVs that feature an integrated iPock docking station through which you can listen to your music library and watch your videos, including copy-protected content purchased from the iTunes Store. The integrated approach seems convenient enough, but is it really a better solution than a standalone dock or the Apple TV?

Features and Set-up
TeleDock is the name JVC has given to its integrated iPod dock, and the TeleDock line of LCDs includes four models ranging in size from 32 to 52 inches. The LT-47P789 is a 47-inch, 1080p model with an MSRP of $2,199.99. Remove the TeleDock feature, and these TVs would probably qualify as JVC’s entry-level models, since they lack advanced features like 120Hz technology or the company’s new Super Slim cabinet design. The LT-47P789’s aesthetic is decent but nothing to get overly excited about; the TV sports a glossy black cabinet, a matching rectangular base, and two speakers that run along the bottom. Take a closer look at the large JVC logo that sits in between the two speakers, and you’ll realize that’s the TeleDock in its folded-up position. Manually lower the dock into place, add your iPod, and you’re set to go.

The TV’s left side panel includes controls for input, menu, channel, volume, and power, as well as a USB port for JPEG playback only. The back panel features three HDMI, two component video, one S-video, two composite video, and one RF input to access the internal ATSC, NTSC, and Clear-QAM tuners. There’s no PC input, nor does the LT-47P789 offer picture-in-picture functionality. The supplied remote is a bit bulky for my small hands, but its buttons are laid out in a logical manner. It lacks backlighting and puts mostly black buttons on a black background, but at least the button names are white. Near the top of the remote, you’ll find five input buttons: The first three are dedicated to the HDMI inputs, while the other two scroll you through the remaining input options.

The LT-47P789’s video-setup options also reveal its step-down nature. The menu lacks many of the advanced controls you’ll find in a higher-end LCD, such as precise white balance, gamma, and color management. The basics are here, though: four picture modes (standard, dynamic, game, and theater), three color-temperature options (cool, natural, and warm), digital and MPEG noise reduction, and a 100-step adjustable backlight, to name a few. You also get a few specialized settings, like dynamic gamma, general color management, and “smart picture” to automatically adjust image brightness – all of which I turned off. For each input, you can set different parameters for each picture mode. I tried following my normal video-setup procedure with the LT-47P789, using test patterns from Video Essentials and Digital Video Essentials (DVD International) to set color, tint, brightness, contrast, and sharpness, and I got some troublesome results. I chose the Theater picture mode and the Warm color temperature, which with test patterns was still cooler than the reference 6,500 Kelvin. I had to set the color abnormally high to make the color-bar test pattern look right, and I had to turn the contrast (called picture) way down to prevent the TV from crushing whites. Also, the TV’s black level floats and is dramatically affected by overall picture brightness, which makes it very difficult to set the brightness control properly. Edge enhancement is a concern if you set the sharpness (called detail) control too high, but it was not a problem at the minimum setting through the HDMI inputs (through the component inputs, some edge enhancement still exists at the minimum detail setting). At the minimum backlight setting, the LT-47P789 still produces a nice amount of light output but only an average black level. With black and gray test patterns, the screen had some uniformity issues, with the sides being brighter than the center. The TV has a solid number of aspect ratios, including four options for SD sources (panorama, cinema, regular, and full) and five for HD sources (full, panorama zoom, cinema zoom, slim, and full native). The full native mode shows 1080i and 1080p sources with zero overscan. 

Over in the audio realm, the LT-47P789 includes four preset sound modes (speech, jazz, classic, and rock), plus a user mode with a five-band equalizer to tailor the audio output to your liking. There’s also a generic surround mode, with options for movie, music, news, and mono. The TV does sport an optical digital audio output, and you can dictate whether you want to send PCM or Dolby Digital to an external sound system.

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