JVC might not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think of LCD TVs, but the company's vast experience in CRTs, D-ILAs, and camcorders gives it plenty of street cred in video. So, it's no surprise that in our tests, JVC's LT-32X776 proved itself a worthy step up from the hordes of cheapo LCDs that offer subpar performance.
That's the good news. The bad news is that when you pay extra for the privilege of owning a set with a better picture, you also expect it to look a little sleeker than budget panels. Alas, the JVC LT-32X776 doesn't. A matte-black bezel surrounds the screen, and a thin silver-plastic rim on the top and the sides extends below to house the speakers. The silver-and-black-plastic base lets you swivel and tilt the TV. Buttons for input, menu, channel, volume, and power are on the bottom-right side along with a headphone jack. A small, blue power indicator sits in the center, below the screen; you can dim it or turn it off. While not uncomfortable to hold, the backlit remote is a bit wide and boxy. It lacks dedicated input-selection buttons, but it places most of the important controls where you can reach them with your thumb. The only exceptions are the PIP controls, which reside on top of the remote, and the oft-used Aspect button. Strangely, the remote that came with our test unit emitted an audible, high-pitched hum when lit.
The JVC LT-32X776's native resolution of 1,366x768 means it should have more than enough pixels to display full 720p HDTV. It scales all incoming signals to fit the available pixels. Its NTSC tuner provides standard-definition, over-the-air television; while its ATSC tuner can receive over-the-air, high-definition television. A CableCard slot allows you to watch digital and high-definition cable programming without an external cable box. The built-in TV Guide EPG is intended to replace the one inside your cable or satellite box. Depending on your cable system--and perhaps your luck--you may or may not be able to get the program guide to work.
Convenience features include picture-in-picture (PIP) and independent input memories. The color-temperature presets include Low and High settings, the effect of which varies depending on the picture preset you've chosen. We found that the High setting of the TheaterPro preset gave us the best out-of-box combination. The slightly enigmatic Natural Cinema feature controls 2:3 pull-down; the Auto setting worked well, quickly detecting and activating 2:3 pull-down as necessary. The Energy Saver mode is really a backlight control. We found that when we turned it almost all the way down, the set produced unusually true blacks for an LCD.
The JVC LT-32X776 has more extensive aspect-ratio controls than most flat-panel LCDs. You get four modes for standard-def material: Panorama, which stretches the sides of 4:3 material to fill the screen; Cinema, which zooms to let letterboxed 4:3 material fill the screen; Full, which properly displays 16:9 material and stretches 4:3 material; and Regular, which properly displays 4:3 material. There are three high-def modes: Panorama Zoom, which stretches windowboxed 16:9 material to eliminate sidebars; Cinema Zoom, which evenly stretches 16:9 material that is both windowboxed and letterboxed so that it fills the screen; and Full, for native wide-screen material.
Inputs include one HDMI, one component-video, two S-Video, three composite, two RF (one NTSC, one ATSC), two FireWire, and four stereo RCA jacks, as well as a CableCard slot. Outputs include one S-Video, one composite, one stereo RCA, one optical digital audio, and one minijack headphone. At this price, we expect a bit more, namely a second component or HDMI input or even a dedicated PC input.
Out of the box, using the TheaterPro picture and High color-temperature presets, the JVC LT-32X776 came very close to the reference 6,500K color temperature. Darker scenes looked a bit bluish but only slightly compared to those on most of the LCD TVs we've seen. The very accurate color decoder showed no noticeable red push on the Avia color-decoder test pattern. Primary colors came very close to the standards, though reds leaned slightly toward orange.
"Chapter 2: Left Behind" in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial highlighted this JVC's relatively deep blacks yet mediocre shadow detail. While the JVC LT-32X776 still easily beats out most budget panels at displaying dark scenes, it obscured nuances in the clothing of the men chasing E.T. through the woods. The foliage also appeared murkier and less detailed than it should have.
We noticed signs of edge enhancement, even with the sharpness properly adjusted, but the picture, including the darker parts, looked cleaner than on many LCDs. The same can be said of the opening scene of Star Trek: Insurrection. Not only did the 2:3 pull-down work perfectly, but the deep blacks and the accurate color lent a sense of realism often lacking in flat panels.
Similarly, high-definition content looked great. The outlandish hilarity of Jackie Chan's Rumble in the Bronx on HDNet Movies appeared crisp, sharp, and vibrant, with little noise to get in the way--if only Mr. Chan's wit were as sharp.
We noticed that HDMI output generally looked softer than component video--the opposite of what we usually see. According to multiburst test patterns from our Accupel HDG-3000, the JVC failed to resolve every line of 720p and even 480p material via HDMI, while it had no trouble with 480p via component (720p looked sharper on component than on HDMI, though it still was not fully resolved). As a result, we recommend using component video instead of HDMI for DVD.
Despite its fine performance, the JVC LT-32X776's high price tag will likely give potential buyers pause, especially as prices continue to drop on new competitors, such as . If JVC is smart, it will drop the LT-32X776's price a little to make it competitive with the new panels other well-known manufacturers are rolling out. The company also offers a version of this panel (model LT-32X576) without a CableCard slot or an ATSC tuner--a much better bargain for people using an external tuner box from their cable or satellite provider.
|Before color temp (30/80)||6,950/6,650K||Good|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 228K||Good|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color decoder error: red||0%||Good|
|Color decoder error: green||0%||Good|
|DC restoration||Gray pattern stable||Average|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Y||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||N||Poor|