The most popular size for wide-screen LCD TVs right now is 32 inches (diagonal), perhaps because it closely matches the screen real estate of 27-inch, non-wide-screen CRT TVs that many people want to replace. These sets come in numerous prices, brands, and feature sets, and JVC's LT-32X787, with a street price of around $1,500 at the time of this writing, sits in the upper-middle range of the 32-inch pack.
JVC's 32-inch LT-32X787 breaks the all-black mold espoused by many flat-panel HDTVs we've seen recently, reverting to a two-tone, black and silver motif. The black part comprises the frame around the screen, while the silver makes up the rest of the cabinet, including the thicker space below the screen to house the speakers. The set's overall styling is modest if somewhat bland, judging by the conservative angles along the edges and bottom to the matching silver stand. The only accent on the unit's face is a blue LED power indicator, which can thankfully be turned off. The JVC LT-32X787 measures 31.5 by 23.3 by 10.6 inches and weighs 38.3 pounds with the stand.
We're not fans of JVC's big remote, which packs too many similar buttons into too haphazard an arrangement. The backlight illuminates just the five-key cursor pad, which confusingly also handles volume and channel changes, and many of the keys have arcane labels such as Natural Cinema and D/A. The TV's menu system is even more poorly thought out, with only one way to navigate from section to section: scrolling down. It gets tedious since the menu needs 10 pages to handle just 30-odd selections, and we resented the long time the set took to switch between inputs. Many oft-used functions warrant their own dedicated remote keys, which saves going into the menu too often. A set of basic function buttons, including ones to access the menu, can be found along the side of the set.
Compared to other 32-inch LCDs, the JVC LT-32X787 has an above-average complement of features. In addition to the ATSC tuner, the set has picture-in-picture and the ability to freeze an image onscreen. There's a healthy selection of four aspect-ratio modes for standard-def sources and three for high-def.
The connectivity suite includes a pair of HDMI jacks--rare among midsize LCDs and very welcome here--as well a cable/antenna RF input and optical digital and analog audio outputs. There are three other rear A/V input slots, which unfortunately double up on jack types. For the first slot, you have to choose between component, composite or S-Video; for the second, between composite or S-Video; and for the third between component, composite, or VGA from a PC (1,024x768 maximum resolution). We'd prefer all these input jacks to have separate slots so that you don't have to choose between them, but overall, the JVC offers ample hookup options. There are no front- or side-panel inputs, however.
The JVC LT-32X787 also has a strong selection of picture-tuning controls. In addition to the standard options such as contrast (a.k.a. picture) and brightness, there's an adjustable backlight control labeled Energy Saver. While we appreciated the ability to adjust the intensity of the backlight--turning it down to achieve darker blacks, for example--its range of adjustment wasn't as wide as that of some sets we've seen.
We liked that the four picture modes--Standard, Dynamic, Theater (a.k.a. Theater Pro), and Game--were adjustable for the major picture settings, but we would have appreciated true independent input memories to ease customization for different sources. The settings for the Theater mode, for example, remain the same regardless of which input you select. In its favor, the JVC reverts to the last-used mode when you switch inputs.
The JVC LT-32X787 has numerous other picture controls. The color-management option seemed to slightly decrease the brightness of blue, so we left it off. The JVC also has three picture modes designed to react to conditions such as screen brightness and ambient light, adjusting the picture accordingly. Dynamic Gamma increased the brightness of shadowy areas in dim scenes but had no effect on bright ones. Smart Picture had a similar effect on bright areas, adjusting the intensity of whites according to the overall brightness of the picture. Finally, Smart Sensor increased overall brightness when room lighting was on and decreased it when the room was dark. We left all of these functions in the Off position since we had carefully adjusted the picture controls for a darkened room. Many viewers, however, may like to have these options available for quick and easy setups.