Connectivity on the LT-P300 is subpar. Unlike most flat-panel HDTVs, it doesn't include easy-access AV inputs on the side or front (just a USB port for digital photos stored on thumbdrives). That's a shame since those connections make it easy to quickly make temporary connections. Around back you'll find an adequate selection of jacks, starting with three HDMI ports. The analog inputs share the remaining two input slots, and unfortunately if you want audio you can't use more than one at a time (you can select between the various video inputs shared by these two slots, but they all have the same audio inputs). One analog input offers a choice of composite, S-Video, or component-video. The second offers composite-video, component-video, and VGA-style analog PC (1,024x768 maximum resolution). There's also an RF input for antenna and cable, as well as an optical digital and analog stereo audio.
iPod testing: Overall the dock functioned as advertised. We tested it with an iPhone (3.0 software), iPod Touch, iPod Nano 3G, and an iPod Nano 4G and experienced no major issues. Sound quality via the TV speakers was pretty poor, but that's to be expected and not a problem if you connect an external audio system. The iPhone had to be put into airplane mode, as usual, to work well with the dock, and we did get a few onscreen messages warning of device incompatibility--but everything seemed to work fine regardless.
As expected, videos blown up to the big screen looked much worse than on the tiny iPod screen. We downloaded a rentals of "Grand Torino" and "Mad Men" from the iTunes store and both played back properly in wide screen on an iPhone (after we'd made sure to select that option from the video output menu), but the quality looked a bit worse than DVD, with evident softness and compression artifacts. All things considered, however, it was still watchable by nonvideophile standards, and we really appreciated having full picture controls available. Standard aspect ratio content, including some downloaded episodes of "The Wire" and "The State" also played fine, with the usual caveats about small videos rendered on a big screen. You can choose the from a pair of iPod-specific aspect ratio options that don't fill the screen, yet look sharper on than the blown-up modes, but we doubt many people will want that.
The iTunes store apparently doesn't allow downloads of high-definition movie rentals to the iPhone, and no iPod, including the iPhone, currently allows high-definition video output, so there's not much hope for higher-quality video for now.
HDTV testing: Overall, the LT-P300's picture quality was about average for an LCD, and should raise no major red flags for less critical viewers. It delivered good black levels, although color and shadow detail could definitely be better.
The JVC's lack of picture control made our setup process quite brief. Our main actions after choosing the most-accurate preset (Theater) was to disable the extraneous picture options, curb light output slightly to hit our target of 40 footlamberts, boost brightness somewhat to reveal as much shadow detail as we could, and reduce the color control to make up for set's red push. We would have liked to see a gamma control in particular, since the JVC only hit 2.01 overall versus our target of 2.2.
For our comparison we lined the LT-P300 up next to a few competing displays, including the Samsung LN46B650 and the Sony KDL-52V5100, along with the higher-end Samsung LN52B750 and Sony KDL-52XBR9. We also included Panasonic's entry-level TC-P50X1 plasma, and as usual our reference display was the Pioneer PRO-111FD plasma. For reasons we can't quite fathom, we watched "Yes Man" on Blu-ray for most of our image quality tests.
Black level: The JVC did well against the other displays in this category, delivering a depth of black just slightly lighter than the Samsung B750, yet a tiny bit darker than the Sony LCDs and the Samsung B650. The difference was subtle even in our side-by-side comparison, but in nighttime scenes like Jim Carey's motorcycle ride in Chapter 6 dark areas, such as the letterbox bars, the night sky and Zooey Deschanel's leather jacket all appeared plenty deep and realistic enough for a standard flat-panel LCD. Compared with the plasmas, as expected, the JVCs blacks were quite a bit lighter.
Details in shadows on the LT-P300 looked less realistic than on the other displays, however, a symptom of overly-dark gamma in dim areas. When the pair pull over onto the side of the road, for example, the trees in the background looked less distinct, hiding much of the detail in the needles and leaves.
Color accuracy: A lack of adjustment and less-than-perfect grayscale didn't serve the LT-P300 well in comparison with the other TVs in our test. Zooey's skin tone during her performance at Spaceland and later when she chats up Carey at the bar, for example, was somewhat pale compared with our reference. As we mentioned above, the JVC also suffered from some red push, so to prevent skin tones from appearing too ruddy we had to back down the color control, which robbed colors of some punch and saturation. The LT-P300 also showed a characteristic blush cast in very dark and black areas, although it wasn't as noticeable as on some of the other sets, such as the Samsung B650.
Video processing: The LT-P300 didn't excel on the test patterns we use to evaluate processing, for what it's worth. It did resolve every detail of 1080i and 1080p still resolution sources, but it failed to deinterlace 1080i video-based sources properly. It handled 1080i film-based sources well, although to do so the Natural Cinema setting needs to be active (it's deactivated by default). Finally our motion resolution test results were typical of a standard 60Hz display at 300-400 lines. As usual we suspect it will be difficult for most viewers watching normal material, as opposed to test patterns, to discern any differences that result from these resolution or video processing characteristics.
Uniformity: The LT-P300 we reviewed was on par with the competition in terms of evenness across the screen. In dark areas we noticed the edges appeared a bit brighter than the middle of the screen, although the difference was subtle eve in nighttime scenes. The extreme top and bottom of the screen appeared a bit darker along the edges, but the issue was not noticeable unless we looked hard and were watching the right material. From off-angle the image faded and became washed-out about as quickly as the other displays, with no overt color shift.
Bright lighting: Like the matte-screened Sony LCDs in our lineup, the JVC was superb at attenuating ambient light in our room. It wasn't as good at preserving black levels in bright light as the Samsungs were, but still outperformed the plasmas in that regard.
Standard-definition: Standard-definition processing on the LT-P300 came in somewhat below the other sets in our lineup. It resolved every detail of the DVD format and details in the grass and stone bridge were solid, although not quite as sharp as Sony or Samsung. The JVC eliminated most of the jaggies in moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag. We did appreciate that the noise reduction controls worked well to remove noise and moire from shots of skies and sunsets. When we engaged the Natural Cinema option the HDTV correctly implemented 2:3 pull-down detection.
PC: As the manual warns, the LT-P300 can't accept resolutions higher than 1,024x768-pixels via its analog PC input. We weren't surprised to find that the picture looked relatively soft on this 1080p set displaying such a relatively low resolution, but some viewers might not mind for a temporary PC hookup. Via digital HDMI, the LT-P300 performed as it should, resolving every line of a 1,920x1080-pixel signal with no overscan or edge enhancement.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6349/7409||Average|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||560||Average|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.636/0.332||Good|
|Color of green||0.273/0.599||Good|
|Color of blue||0.149/0.049||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Fail||Poor|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of this size in the JVC LT-P300 series, but we did test the 46-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the JVC LT-46P300.