Direct-view, flat-panel LCD televisions are growing in number and popularity. The 26-inch LT-26WX84, one of JVC's entries in the market, delivers HDTV-capable resolution in a slim design that you can place just about anywhere. The set's main strength is its image sharpness, and ample light output makes the display excellent for bright viewing environments, although it's not our first choice for home theaters. We found the WX84 online for as little as $2,100--close to the prices of many 22-inch models. As long as you don't need to hook up a computer, this panel is a solid value among LCD TVs.
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.Physically, the WX84 is quite attractive. Rather than giving it the all-silver look so popular among these sets, JVC surrounded its screen with a black bezel and reserved the silver finish for the face's bottom edge, the base, and the stand. The black frame looks good and increases the perceived contrast ratio in the picture, making it seem darker.
The panel gives you some placement flexibility by swiveling left and right to accommodate your seating area. Unfortunately, the blue power light is quite distracting; it's very bright and located close to the screen's lower-right corner.
The remote is universal and, thankfully, fully backlit. However, its ergonomics leave a bit to be desired. The buttons are arranged in a finger-unfriendly layout, and they're small and difficult to distinguish. But we did find the internal menu system intuitive and fairly easy to navigate. With a native resolution of 1,280x768, the WX84 has enough pixels to be truly HDTV-compatible. It can display every detail of 720p, but it scales 1080i HD and everything else to fit its own resolution. Naturally, you'll need an outboard HDTV tuner to view high-definition programs.
This panel isn't exactly packed with conveniences, but it covers the basics. It offers picture-in-picture with Swap and Freeze functions, a sleep timer, Advance Hyper Surround and Hyper Bass audio modes, and built-in front-firing stereo speakers.
Picture-enhancing features include the Low and High color-temperature presets; four aspect ratios; and the Standard, Dynamic, Theater, and Game picture modes, which have very different color palettes. There is also a four-point color-management system. We tried correcting the color decoder with it (see the section), but it wasn't very effective.
The television's connectivity options are fairly generous. The DVI jack is equipped with HDCP copy protection, so it works with next-generation HDTV receivers and DVD players. Both A/V inputs have S-Video and composite video. The other ins comprise a set for component video and one connection for RF signals. You'll also find a set of monitor A/V outputs. There's no VGA input, and the DVI hookup didn't work with the computer sources we tried, so you should consider this LCD only if you don't want to plug in a PC. The WX84's picture has good and bad points. On one hand, the color decoder accentuates red like crazy, which forced us to turn down the color during calibration. But video processing is good, and excellent 2:3 pull-down resulted in an extremely clean rendering of the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection. Black-level performance also tops that of most other panels we've tested. A CRT-based display would do better, but dark scenes on the WX84 revealed decent shadow detail--a pleasant surprise.
When we set the WX84 to the Low color-temperature setting, our precalibration grayscale measured 6,050K at a luminance of 30IRE and 7,450K at 80IRE. After calibration, the respective numbers changed to 6,650K and 6,475K--very close to the 6,500K ideal. This significant improvement helped the panel produce more-accurate colors but didn't compensate for the erroneous reds. Postcalibration peak light output was a very bright 48 footlamberts, which is ample for rooms with a lot of ambient light--think daytime soaps with the blinds open.
We tested the WX84 with Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials DVD. The disc contains computer-generated video, which this set (like most LCD panels) definitely handles more ably than film-based material. The opening scene looked really good, and the shuttle launch was crisp and sharp, although color saturation could have been better.
We also watched HDNet and Discovery HD Theater via our DirecTV high-definition feed, and aside from the aforementioned issues, the picture looked excellent. Compared with the Mitsubishi , the WX84 offers fewer features but similar performance and four more inches of screen.