An influx of affordable LCDs flooding the market has forced JVC to reconsider its pricing strategy. The latest 32DX7 is more competitively priced and better equipped than its predecessor. Although it's not quite class leading, performance has also improved.
The design is undermined by average build quality but the specification is all-inclusive, especially if you have high-definition in mind. The HD ready panel is supported by advanced picture processing and complete connectivity including dual HDMI inputs -- so you can connect more than one high-definition source at the same time.
TV broadcasts and standard video performance is afflicted by dull black levels and bouts of occasional instability that can be cured with a dose of high-definition. Sound performance is more impressive than most flat screens are capable of.
The 32DX7's compact, lightweight design appears deceptively smaller than its 32-inch size suggests. It could be an optical illusion created by the contrasting black and silver edges that frame the screen, which appear over-fussy compared to recent clean designs, such as Samsung's.
Build quality is unimpressive with an abundance of plastic leaving the construction feeling economical rather than inspirational. The broad pedestal stand also feels unsteady, while the side-integrated controls are stiff and clumsy.
Most connections are housed beneath a removable panel at the right side of the rear allowing fairly easy access even if the screen is wall mounted. Analogue options here include a set of basic AV inputs and two RGB-enabled Scarts, which allow you to connect a couple of standard devices without compromising image quality. There are also component inputs that support progressive scan from a compatible DVD player or can be used with some high-definition sources like the Xbox360. A standard D-Sub PC input allows computer applications, but there's no accompanying PC audio input.
Digital input options are separated behind an obstructive cable management panel that needs to be removed to reach them. JVC has followed Toshiba's lead by including a choice of two HDMI inputs -- an improvement over the preceding model. This means you can simultaneously connect a pair of high-definition sources such as Sky's HDTV receiver and an upscaling DVD player now, or Blu-ray and HD DVD players in the future. Not all screens offer this versatility and convenience so it's an incentive for anyone with high-definition in mind.
The remote has a contemporary feel that looks the part, and the spaciously arranged controls and gripping rubber strips along the side make it comfortable to use.
The screen ticks all the necessary boxes needed for a future-proof specification. The high-resolution panel and corresponding connectivity mean it's high-definition compatible with both 720p and 1080i signals used by Sky. A pair of integrated tuners gives you access to terrestrial analogue and digital Freeview broadcasts -- with a CI card slot if you want to subscribe to additional channels from TopUp TV.
JVC's latest generation DIST (Digital Image Scaling Technology) system uses a single processor to control video from input to output for greater processing speed. The technology uses a variety of core and supporting components with impressive titles -- all of which are designed to enhance image quality or reduce noise. Several of the supporting components, such as Colour Management and Black Level Control, can be selected on or off in the settings -- although the difference to images is subtle, they appear to improve the picture and are best left on at all times.
It's not only the picture that's been afforded a wealth of technological features. The sound has been supplemented by a number of adjustments including a pseudo-surround mode, bass and dialogue enhancers, which extend low frequency depth and voices respectively. They are useful for adding some oomph to film soundtracks and not many flat screens pay as much attention to the audio.
Despite all this advanced technical wizardry, the on-screen menus appear basic and outdated. The conservatively styled 7-day EPG looks equally dull and doesn't include typical thumbnailed images that let you watch a programme while searching schedules. The appearance of both the screen's design and interactive features may be ordinary, but there is an exceptional amount of technology beneath that few other screens can claim.
Picture quality lies between acceptable and exceptional with a fine performance that just falls short of class-leading screens from Sharp or Toshiba. It's only a few subtle differences that separate them, but black depth is the most prominent.
The JVC's bright panel effectively bleaches blacks and dilutes solid definition and contrast. Dimming the backlight settings and adjusting the Black Level Control improves matters, but only slightly. The upside of the screen's inherent brightness is that colours, especially skin tones, appear more natural and less exaggerated than in previous JVC models.
Digital TV broadcasts appear slightly frazzled when faced with movement, evident when watching the football. Colour and detail are fine but there's a constant smattering of instability that contradicts the noise reduction technology. All of these constraints can be liberated by playing progressive-scan or high-definition images, which enhance detail and depth while cleaning up the backgrounds.
While most LCD's suffer from restricted sound the 32DX7's audio ability outshines its rivals at this price. The sound is solid and expressive even at high volumes and the effects like the 3D Cinema Sound actually add to the performance unlike most pseudo-surround attempts.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield