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For many home cinema fans, the barrier to owning a really big screen is cost, not space. So on the surface at least, the rear-projection JVC HD-56ZR7J seems to have a huge amount of potential.
After all, how many flat TVs are there out there offering 56 inches of pictures for under £1,800? Exactly.
Even though this is a rear-projection TV, it doesn't look like one. The rear is pretty slim by rear-pro standards and the design cunningly gives the impression that there's actually no rear at all.
Inside the 56ZR7J resides a proprietary JVC technology called the Direct-drive Image Light Amplifier (D-ILA). This is a refinement of the more widely used Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology, with the advantages of being able to use very small pixels to reduce visible gaps in the image and produce deeper black levels.
Helping the D-ILA system hopefully deliver on its promise, meanwhile, is JVC's usually respectable DynaPix image-processing system, which, among other things, boosts fine detail levels and improves contrast handling.
When it's firing on all cylinders with some tasty HD source material, the D-ILA/DynaPix combination produces formidable results. Particularly remarkable is how scintillatingly sharp high-definition pictures can look, with levels of detail that not only shows off the HD glories of pristine Blu-ray transfers such as Casino Royale, but actually reveal some subtleties in the image that we hadn't noticed before.
It does no harm in this regard, of course, that the 56ZR7J sports a 'Full HD' pixel count of 1,920x1,080, enabling it to show the top-notch 1080p format.
The set's colours, meanwhile, thanks to an exceptionally high brightness output by rear-pro standards, are vibrant and strong, but also unusually expressive, natural and subtly blended.
Finally in the plus column, the speakers in this TV are sensational, with the sort of power, dynamic range and clarity most rivals can only dream about.
This is the first D-ILA rear-pro TV JVC has made, so it's perhaps inevitable that there are one or two teething problems. These start with the fact that JVC has only provided one HDMI input, which just isn't enough in these days of Sky HD receivers and HD DVD and Blu-ray players.
It's also slightly disappointing that the TV doesn't carry more user-friendly features. There isn't even a built-in digital tuner, for heaven's sake!
And then there are a couple of picture deficiencies to report. First and worst, the set's black level response is pretty uninspiring, leaving dark scenes such as Superman's night-time tour of Metropolis with Lois Lane looking rather grey and flat.
Secondly, standard definition pictures can look fizzy -- a problem which can also even affect HD if you're not very careful with the TV's DigiPure auto-contrast system. We'd recommend leaving it set to 'Low' if you know what's good for you...
Although it's certainly flawed, there's enough good stuff going on with the 56ZR7J's pictures to convince us that D-ILA rear-pro technology definitely has a future. Especially when it can produce a screen size as big as 56 inches while costing far less -- around £1,800 -- than the same size would cost you with flat TV technology.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire