JVC LT-32DR7 review:


Typical Price: £750.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Inclusive connectivity; advanced picture processing; excellent digital TV and hi-def performance.

The Bad Unimaginative design; basic menus; bleached black levels; poor sound.

The Bottom Line JVC's LT-32DR7 isn't endowed with a great design, but a future-proof specification and outstanding performance for the price mean it's excellent value for money

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.5 Overall

Considering the competitive price we're pleased that few compromises have been made to this screen's specification and performance. In fact, it's only the lacklustre design that exposes the LT-32DR7 as a budget model.

Otherwise, the screen offers an inclusive HD Ready specification for a very good value £750, or even less if you shop around. Connectivity is enhanced by the inclusion of HDMI and two RGB Scart sockets, which allow you to connect a pair of standard devices without sacrificing image quality. And there are the same advanced picture processing systems that you'll find from more expensive models in JVC's range.

Digital TV images and high-definition content look excellent, with a bright panel that reveals intricate detail and natural colours. Class-leading models can claim deeper black levels with more density and contrast, but you won't find any at this price.

It's not that the JVC LT-32DR7's frugal design is unattractive, but the nondescript silver styling lacks imagination and appears dated compared to some recent models we've seen, such as Samsung's lovely PS42Q7HD.

The boxy construction is entirely outfitted in plastic and the set is deeper than its typically slim rivals. But it is more affordable than most, and while the design is compromised, the specification offers all you can reasonably ask for from an entry-level model.

Practically all connections are inset across the side of the rear panel, which allows exceptionally easy access. Among the standard analogue options here are two Scart terminals and both have been gratefully RGB-enabled for much better picture quality than standard Scart. Too many (often more expensive) screens arrive equipped with only a single RGB Scart and JVC deserves credit for offering inclusive connectivity -- especially at this price.

There are also component inputs, which offer improved image quality from a progressive scan DVD player or some high-definition devices, including the Xbox 360. However, if hi-def is a priority then using the HDMI digital input provides the best performance with the convenience of a single cable to carry both pictures and sound.

Otherwise, there is a standard PC input, which can be used for monitor or media centre applications -- although there's no dedicated PC audio input.

The skinny remote control is actually more attractive than the screen itself. There's plenty of space between the oversized keys and rubber grips at the side make it very comfortable to use.

The JVC LT-32DR7 may appear ordinary from the outside, but a surprisingly impressive future-proof specification lies beneath. This includes high-definition compatibility, integrated Freeview with a Top Up TV card slot for subscription channels and a wide assortment of advanced underlying technology.

The most important feature is JVC's latest-generation Digital Image Scaling Technology (DIST). The system incorporates numerous core and supporting components controlled by a single processor for greater speed and subsequent image quality. There are too many components to name but each one is specifically designed to enhance a variety of picture elements such as detail, movement and noise reduction. Several of the supporting systems can be turned on or off in the settings and, although it can be hard to discern the difference they make, they are best left on at all times.

As with other JVC models we've seen, on-screen menus place functionality above flair. Settings menus and the seven-day electronic programme guide that accompanies digital programmes are unimaginatively presented using dull colours and basic graphics, but they are easy to use. There is the usual choice of picture presets, of which a combination of Bright and Cool modes performs best if you prefer not to customise your own settings. Otherwise you can experiment by activating or ignoring various DIST components, but the effect on overall performance isn't obvious.

The programme guide is fast and informative, but you can only view upcoming schedules one channel at a time, which can be time-consuming. And the guide isn't supported by pictures or sound, so you can't watch while you search through schedules.

Sonically speaking, there are a couple of extra-curricular sound options. The 3D Cinema Sound mode attempts to enhance spatial ambience, but really only confuses the sound stage. The Tone Correction function does improve dialogue clarity, however, and is useful with most standard TV programmes.

We were particularly impressed with the JVC LT-32DR7's Freeview performance. The bright panel exposes surprisingly clean detail and tones down colours, which often appear exaggerated by LCDs. However, black levels appear slightly blanched by the bright panel, which means contrast doesn't compare with class-leading models and dark scenes can appear drained. This means that it looks exceptional with shows that have the glare of controlled studio lighting, but can struggle with more natural content.

Nonetheless, high-definition images look spectacular with vibrant colours, slick movement and outstanding detail. There is some occasional instability during complex scenes, but nothing that can be complained about at this price.

Unfortunately, that cannot be said of the screen's audio performance. The boomy speakers struggle to remain composed during films and it's difficult to establish a volume level between too soft and annoyingly loud.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide

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