JVC LT-X898 review:


All told, the JVC LT-47X898 delivered solid if unspectacular picture quality, highlighted by an accurate grayscale, which made skin tones and other delicate colors appear more natural. Its black-level performance was about average for an LCD, but its major flaw was in primary color accuracy, which, unfortunately, can't be fixed by the set's color management system. As for 120Hz, it didn't have a very noticeable impact on LT-47X898's performance as far as we could discern.

Before critical viewing, as usual, we calibrated the JVC for optimal performance in our completely darkened testing theater. The best-performing picture mode, Theater, resulted in a dim 15 footlambert (FTL), so we turned the Energy Saver control up nearly all the way to achieve our standard 40, then adjusted black levels accordingly. Theater mode also defaults to the Low preset, in which the set's color temperature, as usual for JVC, was quite accurate. A few tweaks to the user-menu gain controls improved it further. Grayscale linearity was solid, although it did veer slightly into the bluish range in brighter areas.

As you can see from the Geek Box below, the JVC's primary colors were off significantly from the HD standard, which is surprising since the primaries of the non-120Hz JVC LT-47X788 measured much better. JVC does include extensive color management controls, but unfortunately we couldn't induce significant improvement when using them. Adjusting green tint, for example, the only control that affected the primary color of green (the set's least-accurate), did not bring it anywhere near the accurate range for the standard. The same can be said for red, and unfortunately there are no controls for blue. Two other controls for each color, called "axis" and "color," didn't affect primary color accuracy at all, and seemed to have little effect. In the end, we decided to disengage the color management system entirely and leave it at default values. For our full user-menu settings, click hereor check out the Tips and Tricks section above.

For evaluation, we compared the LT-47X898 directly with few other HDTVs we had on hand, including the aforementioned 60Hz JVC LT-47X788; and the Sony KDL-46XBR4, and the Mitsubishi LT-46144, both 120Hz LCDs; as well as the Pioneer PDP-5080HD, the Pioneer PRO-FHD1, and the Samsung FP-T5084, all 50-inch plasmas. This time we watched the Blu-ray version of Shooter, courtesy of the Samsung BD-P1200 playing at 1080i resolution.

The black level performance of the LT47X898 fell into the middle of the recent LCD pack. Black areas didn't appear as dark as they did on the Mitsubishi or the Sony, for example, but they were darker than on the LT-47X788 and the Pioneer PRO-FHD1. When Mark Wahlberg puts out the light at the convenience store, for example, his silhouette, the night sky, and the black bars below and above the image appeared brighter in comparison to most of the other sets we had on hand, which did rob that scene of a bit of realism. Details in the shadows around his head appeared a bit less distinct than on the better comparison sets, such as the Sony LCD and the Pioneer plasmas, but approximately the same as the Mitsubishi--again, about the middle of the LCD pack.

Color reproduction on the LT-47X898 had its good and bad points. In the plus column, as we mentioned above, its grayscale was quite accurate, and unlike the other JVC it did not tinge dark areas too red. Skin tones, especially in dimmer areas, appeared relatively realistic. As Wahlberg takes aim at a can of stew, the close-up on his face looked natural and nicely saturated, without the bluish tinge we noticed on the Mitsubishi, for example. When he confronts Kate Mara in her dark doorway afterward, her freckled face appeared convincingly flush but not overly so.

Primary color accuracy, on the other hand, left much to be desired. During the initial flyover of the river, the water appeared aquamarine instead of the dark cobalt shade we saw on the other displays, a sure indicator of the cyan-tilted blue primary. Skies were likewise too greenish, and green, for example in the winter conifers during one of Wahlberg's hikes, looked too bluish and unnatural next to the other displays. Overall, the LT-47X898 had some of the least accurate primaries we've seen lately, and next to the other sets, the difference was obvious. Even outside of a side-by-side comparison, the greenish blues, which are perhaps the LT-47X898's biggest flaw, would be noticeable.

As we mentioned above, the JVC does not incorporate any sort of "de-judder" technology, which is found in some other manufacturers' 120Hz LCDs sets, so as we expected, we didn't see any smoothing of motion in Shooter. For example, when the camera follows the red helicopter across the sky, the mountains in the background evinced the same kind of filmlike choppiness, seen on all of the other sets in the room--with the exception of the Sony, which does offer de-judder. We've complained that de-judder can make some scenes look unnatural, but as we said in the review of the de-judder-free 120Hz Mitsubishi, we do miss having the option.

As usual, we spent some time looking for motion blur, the elimination of which is the supposed principal benefit of 120Hz, and as usual, we had a difficult time spotting it. We watched both fast-action scenes from Shooter as well as a football game on NBC and a hockey game on HDNet. The one area where we saw what could have been evidence of 120Hz at work occurred during the football broadcast. When the camera followed a punt, the edges of the blue horseshoe of the Colts' helmet painted on the 50-yard line appeared very slightly sharper on the 120Hz JVC compared to the 60Hz JVC we had right next to it. It took a few presses of the instant replay button on our DVR's remote to verify, and even then, it was very difficult to discern. We also saw very slightly less blur trailing along behind the edges of the words from a ticker on ESPN. Again, we want to stress the difficulty we had just spotting these differences, and that in the vast majority of content we watched, the difference between the two side-by-side JVC sets' motion rendition was nonexistent to our eyes.

In "Full Native" mode, which the LT-47X898 had a hard time keeping engaged, the TV resolved every detail of 1080i and 1080p resolution sources. According to the HQV HD DVD, the set passed both of the 1080i deinterlacing tests, for video and film, and we didn't see any artifacts in the RV's grille during the Chapter 6 pan over the highway from Ghost Rider--our current real-world check of 1080i deinterlacing. As we saw with the Toshiba 52LX177, however, there was some interference in the video deinterlacing test's highest-resolution areas, which we can't help but blame on 120Hz, since the same test on the 60Hz JVC was clean. As always, it's worth noting that seeing any of these issues in program material is very difficult, as was distinguishing any difference in detail between the 1080p resolution sets and the 1,366x768 resolution Pioneer plasma.

In its favor, the LT-47X898 evinced some of the best screen uniformity we've seen from an LCD lately, and was just about tied with the Sony as the most uniform LCD in the room. In very dark scenes, such as a shot of Wahlberg driving at night, we did detect a slightly brighter, irregular area in the upper-left portion of the screen, but that's about it. The edges of the screen appeared closer in brightness to the middle than they did on the other LCDs, and we saw no horizontal banding. When seen from off-angle, the JVC's also maintained image quality fairly well, although like all LCDs we've tested, it did wash out somewhat in darker areas, and from extreme angles a tinge of red crept into the picture.

Our standard-def tests consisted of a suite of material from the HQV disc on DVD, and the LT-47X898 came in below average. It showed every bit of detail the DVD had to offer according to the color bar tests, although the details in the grass and stone bridge looked a bit soft. Displaying difficult diagonal lines in video-based material, the JVC did not do a very good job smoothing out the jagged edges, and as a result, the stripes on the waving American flag also showed jaggies. During the noisy shots of sunsets and skies, the Auto and Min noise reduction settings didn't seem to do much, and while Max did suppress much of the moving motes and other noise, it also softened details considerably. We also checked out the set's 2:3 pull-down performance and were disappointed when Auto, the default mode, took a full 1.5 seconds to engage film mode; we recommend leaving it in the On position unless you notice artifacts.

With PC sources delivered via one of the three HDMI inputs, the JVC turned in a fine performance, resolving every line of a 1,920x1,080 resolution DVI source, with crisp text and no overscan (again, best results are achieved in "Full Native" mode). As with previous JVCs we've reviewed, the LT-47X898's VGA-style analog PC input is limited to 1,024x768 resolution, which doesn't fill the screen--although it can be stretched, which naturally makes everything look softer. On the 1080p JVC, such a low computer resolution made text and other onscreen items look soft anyway, so as usual, we recommend going digital if possible. It's worth noting that many other 1080p LCDs do offer full resolution via VGA inputs, so JVC is behind the curve in that department.

Before color temp (20/80) 6,524/6,781 Good
After color temp 6,510/6,674 Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 197K Good
After grayscale variation +/- 149K Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.658/0.325 Average
Color of green 0.194/0.66 Poor
Color of blue 0.141/0.079 Poor
Overscan 0 percent Poor
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Yes Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Yes Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

JVC LT-47X898 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 300.78 219.68 154.6
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.32 0.23 0.16
Standby (watts) 0.76 0.76 0.76
Cost per year $91.80 $67.17 $47.41
Score (considering size) Poor
Score (overall) Poor

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