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Competition is heating up in the rear-projection HDTV arena, fueled by microdisplay technologies that use LCD, DLP, and LCoS technology. Now there's a new abbreviation to remember. JVC has developed a display technology it calls D-ILA (Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier), which the company says is a more robust variant of LCoS that uses nonfading, inorganic compounds. For the first time, D-ILA is available in a rear-projection configuration: the HD-52Z575. You can find this 52-inch HDTV for a few bucks more than 50-inch microdisplays such as the Samsung HL-P5063W and the Sony KDF-50WE655, and in terms of image quality, it generally matches up well with those sets. Videophiles will be bothered by its imperfect geometry and lighter blacks, especially compared to those of DLP sets, but many viewers will find its brightness--an asset in well-lit rooms--worth the trade-off.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.The JVC HD-52Z575 is attractive enough, with a 52-inch diagonal screen and a black border, which helps increase the perceived contrast ratio of the picture. Beneath the screen is a silver panel perforated by small speaker holes. Also underneath is a chrome-plastic semicircle hiding the power button. The remaining controls are stashed on the right side of the set.
At only 84 pounds, this is one light 52-inch TV, even by microdisplay standards. Its 16-inch depth is average for the category, as is the need to put it atop some sort of riser to get it to eye level. JVC offers a matching stand (model RKCILA5S, $499).
Interacting with the HD-52Z575 reminded us of stepping a year or two back in time. The menu system uses the most primitive-looking onscreen text and icons, and it required us to scroll through multiple screens to find many of the options. The remote has lots of small buttons somewhat haphazardly arranged, but at least every key is backlit. We did appreciate the dedicated key for each input, which made jumping from source to source a cinch.The JVC HD-52Z575's onboard options are average at best. While most major manufacturers of big-screen HDTVs include built-in HDTV tuners and digital-cable-ready (DCR) capability in their top-of-the-line 2004 models, JVC does not. That's not a huge deal if you're used to a cable or satellite box, but it's a major omission if you want the "just TV" approach.
JVC's D-ILA engine offers a native resolution of 1,280x720, which exactly matches the resolution of 720p HDTV. All other resolutions, including 1080i HDTV and standard-definition sources, are converted to fit. Unlike most rear-projection DLP sets and some LCoS designs (notably from Philips), the JVC uses three chips instead of one, for increased color fidelity and elimination of rainbow color-wheel artifacts.
The set does include a picture-in-picture feature that displays two same-size images next to each other (it can't display two component or HDMI sources, however). Five preset picture modes are onboard, although the set lacks independent input memories. We also counted five aspect-ratio choices for standard-definition sources and, happily, three for high-def.
The HD-52Z575's connectivity is a bit disappointing for a TV at this level, mainly because the component inputs share a slot with one or two other jack types. One rear input offers a choice of component or S-Video or composite-video jacks; another offers component or composite. Two more inputs, one front and one rear, are standard A/V jacks with S-Video. The set also includes an HDMI port for connection to so-equipped HD receivers and DVD players or, with an optional adapter, to DVI-equipped gear.
Like all microdisplays, the HD-52Z575 relies on a lamp that will need to be replaced after a certain amount of time (JVC estimates 4,000 hours). Replacement lamp assemblies cost $250.
Note that JVC also offers this set in a 61-inch version, the HD-61Z575. The TVs in the sister line, the HD-52Z585 and the HD-61Z585, are nearly identical except for their black cabinets.Editor's note: The information below is based on the last of three review samples sent to CNET, which JVC says now accurately represents the models currently on the market (hey, third time's the charm). Given our experience, you should be aware that HD-52Z575s with earlier manufacturing dates may exhibit different performance from that of the model reviewed below.
Our first impression of the JVC HD-52Z575 was, "Damn, that's bright." Its light output outdoes that of any TV we've tested, which means that the set should do very well competing with ambient light in brightly lit rooms. Unfortunately, even its Theater Pro 6,500K mode looked extremely blue before calibration. Afterward, the TV's grayscale was much improved (see the geek box below).
We set up the JVC next to a couple of competing microdisplay televisions, the DLP-powered Samsung HL-P5085W and the LCD-powered Hitachi 50VS810, to evaluate its image quality. We turned first to our trusty Alien disc to check out how the JVC handled darker material. The JVC's deepest black looked a bit lighter than the Hitachi's and significantly lighter than the Samsung's. On the JVC, the darkness of space also exhibited some video noise, which appeared as small, crawling motes in the black. This noise increased substantially when we watched with 480i sources and was significantly reduced when we fed the set an HDMI image via Sony's DVP-NS975V.
The lack of uniformity that we noticed on the first and second review samples, which caused certain areas of the screen to appear discolored, was largely gone from the third. Fields of white and gray still weren't quite as even as they were on the Samsung, but they evinced less discoloration than when displayed on the Hitachi.
A big plus in the JVC's favor was that it delivered accurate color with very little red push. For example, we were able to fully saturate the image and still achieve accurate-looking skin tones on Ripley and her crew as they emerged from hibernation. We also noticed that even when examined closely, white areas showed less signs of visible pixel structure than on the other two sets, making for an image that looked smoother from close seating distances.
On the other hand, we saw that the white text on the black background had a blue fringe, which was also evident on vertical edges and other lines when examined closely. In addition, yellow fringing occurred along the bottom of horizontal lines. The set's geometry suffered from noticeable vertical pincushioning, which made 4:3 side bars, for example, appear wider at the bottom than at the top.
Turning to high-def material, we watched a little of the video montage from the D-VHS version of Digital Video Essentials at 720p. Detail was quite good, although just a bit softer than on the other two sets. For example, links in the chain on the ferry as it motored across New York Harbor appeared a tad less distinct. Multiburst test patterns from that tape backed up our findings; the set could barely resolve a 14MHz pattern, while the other two sets could. The differences were minor, however, and only visible in side-by-side tests. HDTV on the JVC, particularly via HDMI (which again cleaned up video noise considerably), generally looked excellent, and here too colors appeared accurate and well saturated.
|Before color temp (20/100)||8,584/8,336K||Poor|
|After color temp (20/100)||6,511/6,502K||Good|
|Before grayscale variation 20 to 100 IRE||+/- 1,851K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation 20 to 100 IRE||+/- 60K||Good|
|Color decoder error: red||0%||Good|
|Color decoder error: green||-5%||Good|
|DC restoration||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Y||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|