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JVC HD-G87 review: JVC HD-G87


Kevin Miller
5 min read
If you don't have the budget to go for the premium-priced rear-projection sets such as Sony's SXRDs or Samsung's 1080p DLP models, then a 720p-resolution model makes a solid alternative. One example, JVC's 2006 entry-level line of LCoS rear-projection TVs, now represents the company's third generation, and thankfully, JVC has significantly improved their performance. The 56-inch JVC HD-56G887 is a bargain by big-screen HDTV standards, with the ability to produce a surprisingly decent picture without costing a bundle. On the outside, the JVC HD-56G887 is a relatively basic-looking box. It has the two-tone cosmetics of many current big-screen microdisplay designs, with a black bezel surrounding the screen on all sides, a bit of silver trim that is nearly invisible on the left and right, and the speaker housing placed below the screen and finished entirely in silver. The company also offers an identical version in black, the JVC HD-56G787.

The JVC HD-56G887's dimensions are comparable to those of other 56-inch rear-projection sets, neither notably bulky nor compact. Overall, it measures about 52 by 31.1 by 17.4 inches (WHD) and weighs 92 pounds. This set is a tabletop design, so plan on getting JVC's matching stand, model RKCILAM6--or another A/V stand--to raise it off the floor about 18 to 24 inches.



The Good

Relatively inexpensive; accurate color decoding and grayscale tracking; generous connectivity, including dual HDMI inputs and one PC input.

The Bad

Some visible artifacts in dark material; relatively light color of black; no independent input memories; ho-hum looks.

The Bottom Line

The JVC HD-56G887 is a value-priced 720p big-screen that delivers impressive performance for the money.

JVC's remote control is a clumsy, busy affair with what seems like a zillion buttons, although at least they're differentiated by size and shape. Only the most basic keys have glow-in-the-dark illumination. The archaic-looking internal menu system is fairly straightforward, but we found it annoying that you have to scroll vertically to access all the pages. As the company's entry-level model for 2006, the JVC HD-56G887, along with all screen sizes in its line, has a native resolution of 720p (1,280x720 pixels). That's enough to display every pixel of 720p HDTV sources but not as high as more expensive 1080p HDTVs, which will deliver sharper pictures with 1080i HDTV material. All incoming resolutions, including HDTV, computer, and standard-def, are converted to fit the available pixels. The HD-56G887 uses an LCoS-based light engine, which does not cause the rainbow effect that's visible to some viewers of DLP-based displays.

Like almost all big-screen HDTVs, the JVC HD-56G887 offers an ATSC tuner, but it lacks the CableCard found on step-up models, not a big omission in our book. There's also picture-in-picture with inset and side-by-side modes and an option to freeze the image onscreen. Aspect-ratio modes include four choices for standard-def and three for high-def sources.

JVC includes some useful picture-tuning features and some not-so-useful ones. Color Management adversely affects color decoding and should be left off as the decoding is quite good otherwise (see Performance). Smart Picture changes white and black level on the fly depending on picture content, and for optimum picture performance, it should also be disabled. Conversely, Dynamic Gamma produces a slightly better gamma curve when engaged, so we recommend that you do so.

There are four adjustable picture presets--namely Dynamic, Standard, Theater, and Game--but just two selectable color-temperature settings, High and Low. Unfortunately, the only way to be able to have different picture settings for different sources is to change the picture mode manually at each input. This arrangement is inferior to true independent memory per input, and it caused us some headaches during setup.

Connectivity is fairly generous on the JVC HD-56G887, with two HDMI digital inputs heading up the list. For analog video connection, the set sports two component video, two S-Video, three composite video, and one 15-pin VGA input for PC hookup (1,024x768 recommended resolution). Unfortunately, you'll have to sacrifice one kind of analog jack to connect another; connecting both component-video jacks, for example, means you won't be able to connect to either of the S-Video inputs. A single RF input will accept antenna or cable signals as well as analog and digital off-air broadcasts. A set of side-panel A/V inputs with composite video only as well as a digital optical audio output for routing digital audio from off-air HDTV broadcasts rounds out the connectivity options. The JVC HD-56G887 performed surprisingly well for an entry-level 720p LCoS television, with accurate color as well as big improvements in black-level performance and uniformity over the last such set we reviewed, the 2004 JVC HD-52Z575.

Out of the box and set to Theater mode and Low color temperature, the HD-56G887's grayscale came so close to the standard that it did not need calibration. We did run into one issue during setup, however: the black level with our standard-def source at the first HDMI input was different from the level for our high-def source at the second HDMI input, so we couldn't use the theater preset for both. We tried to get around this by using the standard preset for the second input, but that changed the grayscale dramatically for the worse, despite both modes claiming to be in the Low color-temperature setting. We ended up calibrating the grayscale in Standard mode, then fixing the black-level difference by using the DVD player's brightness control, but that's an inelegant solution generally not available to everyday users.

Black-level performance on the HD-56G887 was better than that of previous 720p models we've tested, although dark areas certainly weren't as deep as with the best DLP and LCoS sets. The JVC cannot resolve details darker than black, as any HDTV should. Our torture test for dark scenes, the beginning of Alien: The Director's Cut, also revealed some visible false-contouring artifacts and low-level noise, such as when the Nostromo is traveling through space in the opening sequence.

We had complained about uniformity issues on previous LCoS displays, but the JVC HD-56G887 was much better, very little discoloration in different areas of the screen.

Overall color accuracy was good, with excellent color decoding, provided Color Management is turned off. Grayscale tracking was linear, which will further improve color fidelity. Primary colors are a mixed bag in terms of accuracy (see the Geek box). The Fifth Element Superbit DVD revealed extremely natural-looking color and skin-tone rendition. Detail and clarity were also as solid as we'd expect from the DVD.

The JVC HD-56G887 delivers all the resolution from 720 HD sources via its HDMI input. HD from our Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player, set to 1080i mode, looked mostly excellent. The Chronicles of Riddick delivered superb detail and decent color saturation. There are a lot of dark scenes in this movie, and the JVC handled them reasonably well, with fewer artifacts than we noticed during DVD playback.

Before color temp (20/80) 6,350/6,450K Good
After color temp N/A  
Before grayscale variation +/- 67K Good
After grayscale variation N/A  
Color of red (x/y) 0.648/0.334 Good
Color of green 0.283/0.701 Poor
Color of blue 0.145/0.047 Average
Overscan 2.5 percent Good
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Yes Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Yes Good



Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 7
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