When LG launched the firstearlier this year, we felt confident many other brands would quickly follow with their own Freeview-recording TVs.
But actually, for whatever reason, the £600 JVC LT-32DE9 we're considering today is the first time a big brand has tried to tread on LG's toes. So let's hope it offers up some much-needed competition in the TV-PVR combi market.
There really is no overstating just how cool it is to have two key AV products wrapped up inside the 32DE9BJ's diminutive and really rather stylish body. For not only do you not need any external recording box, you also don't need any messy cables.
It's great to find, too, that the 32DE9BJ has been afforded full Freeview+ accreditation (Freeview+ being the new name for Freeview Playback), meaning it's been tested on such key features as series link, eight-day electronic programme guide support, and the ability to record 'split' shows (for example, films interrupted by the 10 o'clock news) as a single seamless event.
Despite carrying a 160GB digital recorder inside, the 32DE9BJ doesn't scrimp on its video socketry. It still offers the de rigueur three HDMIs, a component video jack, and all the customary analogue, standard-def fallbacks.
Considering it's really not at all expensive for a 32-inch TV/PVR combi, it's a surprise to find the 32DE9BJ carrying JVC's DynaPix Plus image-processing engine. This focuses on boosting detail levels, colours, contrast and noise reduction, and delivers some very impressive results.
Particularly striking is how formidably sharp the 32DE9BJ's pictures are. High definition looks exceptionally detailed and crisp, raising a dismissive two fingers to anyone who doesn't think you can really appreciate HD on a screen as small as 32 inches. But DynaPix also does a great job of adding detail to standard-definition sources -- and it does so without introducing excessive processing artefacts or glitches.
Another strong point of the 32DE9BJ's pictures is their colour response. The fullness of saturation on show helps images look unusually solid and three-dimensional. Crucially, this richness does not come at the expense of colour tones, which are impressively natural for 95 per cent of the time.
More good news concerns the quality of the 32DE9BJ's recordings. The TV effectively uses ato do its Freeview+ duties, and its recordings look, for our money, identical to the original Freeview broadcasts. We were also impressed by how easy it is to use the Freeview+ system via the TV's menu and remote.