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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.
After we'd tweaked the controls for home-theater viewing, we were happy to see that the default settings for Theater mode came very close to our user-menu adjustments, and we popped in the Aeon Flux DVD to see how the JVC performed. With Energy Saver at its minimum setting, the depth of black and shadowy areas appeared lighter than we'd like, although the ViewSonic N3260W was slightly worse in this regard. When Aeon (Charlize Theron) skulks in a box seat above an empty orchestra hall, for example, the letterbox bars and the black of her gun and outfit seemed brighter than on some LCDs we've seen. The JVC did an average job of rendering details in shadows, such as the strands of her hair and the folds of the curtain.
We also noticed slightly brighter areas in the upper right and the lower left of the screen during this and other dark scenes. Such bright spots are common among LCDs, and the JVC LT-32X787 is better than many we've seen in this regard.
Colors in the film appeared solid for an LCD. As a result of the relatively accurate color temperature (see the geek box), Aeon's skin looked natural--not too pale, as with the ViewSonic, or too flush--against her sheer black outfit. When she confronts Claudius in the greenhouse, the green plants and pink and orange flowers appeared suitably lush.
We had no major complaints about the JVC LT-32X787's ability to deliver the high-def goods. Details during an ESPN broadcast of a St. Louis/Houston baseball game looked crisp, with the expressions of the Cardinals faithful clearly visible in the background during a hero-shot zoom of batter Albert Pujols. Test patterns from our signal generator revealed, as we've seen on most other LCDs with 1,366x768 native resolution, that 720p resolution sources looked sharper on this set than 1080i ones. It was still difficult to tell the difference on a 720p baseball game or a 1080i broadcast of Owning Mahoney in HDNet, however.
We also sampled some standard-def sources, and the JVC evinced its share of good and bad points. It tended to engage 2:3 pull-down processing slowly, which may result in some more jagged or unnatural moving lines in some sources, but isn't a big deal. Some diagonal lines, such the stripes in the waving flag from the HQV benchmark DVD, also displayed rough edges. In its favor, the JVC's noise reduction did a good job of cleaning up the snowy dancing motes visible in backgrounds and other areas, such as the wall church behind a woman giving a eulogy on an episode of Boston Public.
In terms of picture quality, the JVC LT-32X787 stands among the better LCDs we've tested, and its well-appointed features may offset a staid design and a below-average interface and remote. This JVC makes a good option for people willing to spend a bit more to get a second HDMI input along with above-par performance.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6,207/6,024K||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||± 318K||Good|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.633/0.338||Good|
|Color of green||0.277/0.600||Good|
|Color of blue||0.145/0.064||Good|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Yes||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Yes||Good|