JVC LT-42DR9BJ £750
22nd Dec 2008 | 11:12
Simplicity and a solid performance at a very affordable price
There's a refreshing simplicity to the JVC LT-42DR9BJ: it aims to achieve the right balance between decent performance and affordable price – an equilibrium sure to be close to the hearts of anyone looking for a new TV right now.
Given its unpretentious stance, you might be forgiven for expecting the 42DR9BJ to be underwhelming in the feature department, but it's got a few tricks up its sleeve.
There's its design, for starters. An impressively slender black bezel partners a distinctive neon blue
strip power light to give the screen an intriguingly retro look.
Affordable Full HD
The JVC 42DR9BJ also keeps us happy by providing three v1.3 HDMI sockets among its connections, along with a digital audio output. However, there's also a disappointment at this stage as we fail to ﬁnd a D-Sub PC jack – a connection found on practically every other LCD TV these days.
You could use a PC with the 42DR9BJ, provided you were able to match its resolution precisely to the TV's 1,920 x 1,080 pixel count, but generally this JVC is of limited use as a PC monitor.
The Full HD resolution is pleasing on such an affordable LCD TV. But there's also a slightly disappointing specification to consider, too: a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of just 7,500:1. So things don't bode well for the 42DR9BJ's black levels.
On the plus side, though, the JVC LT-42DR9BJ carries JVC's DynaPix HD video processing engine.
As well as having elements aimed at colour and contrast management, this system has previously proved particularly effective at adding extra ﬁne detail to pictures, especially standard-deﬁnition ones. So we have high hopes for it.
Also raising a smile is the discovery that the 42DR9BJ can play 1080p/24fps sources – a key
Blu-ray-friendly talent noticeably lacking on some other recent JVC screens. Plus there is decent mileage to be had from an MPEG noise reduction circuit, a backlight level adjuster and the facility to turn on or off the DigiPure contrast boosting system.
The LT-42DR9BJ's onscreen menus are rather drab, but generally straightforward to navigate and use.
The remote control is less satisfying, due to the layout of the outer circle of buttons too close to the main navigation 'rocker', causing you to press the buttons accidentally when you just want to use the rocker.
The 42DR9BJ's picture performance is an archetypal mixed bag, though when it's good, it's very ﬁne indeed.
This is largely thanks to the TV's superb sharpness and clarity when showing good quality HD footage. No pixel goes unshown, and all the resulting lovely detail is unmarred by any signiﬁcant noise types.
Also striking is how sharp SD images look, as the DynaPix HD processing engine does its emphatic upscaling work. In fact, only Philips and possibly Sony can compete with this JVC when it comes to sheer sharpness.
Another real strength of the 42DR9BJ is its colour response, as it pumps out exceptionally vivid, bright and well-balanced colours that grab your attention hard and help give pictures an impressive sense of solidity. However, these strengths only occur during bright and relatively motionless footage. When things go dark and/or start moving fast the problems begin.
Picture duff notes
The lack of 100Hz processing on the screen means that rapid motion blurs a little. Not horrendously so, but enough to take the edge off that otherwise impeccable sharpness.
The 42DR9BJ's biggest problem is its black level response. The uninspiring 7,500:1 contrast ratio becomes glaringly apparent in the form of grey clouding not just over dark scenes, but also in dark parts of otherwise bright scenes.
While this issue isn't disastrous by any means, especially for the set's price, it is deﬁnitely distracting from time to time.
One other negative aspect is that while the 42DR9BJ does a great job of sharpening standard-deﬁnition pictures, non-HD sources tend to suffer exaggerated MPEG noise and a few duff colour tones, especially noticeable on skin.
The screen doesn't have any visible speakers, but it does carry JVC's MaxxBass audio system, and this helps it produce a startlingly dynamic, bass-rich sound performance, along with clear vocals and bags of treble detail. A slight electronic buzz accompanying peak trebles costs the TV some points, though.
Were it not for Panasonic's now crazily cheap HD Ready 42PX80, the JVC LT-42DR9BJ might have earned full marks on value, but it's still a keenly priced option for a full HD TV.