The arrival of High Definition (HD) broadcasts promises to revolutionise TV viewing, with images more inviting than a call to a party at the Playboy Mansion. But to see the bigger picture you'll need a screen that's capable of accepting the signal.
If the question, "Is this HD Ready?" fails to provoke signs of intelligent life from an unsuspecting Saturday boy at your local retailer - fear not, for the criteria is simpler than he is.
Screens need to be able to display at least 720 lines of horizontal resolution in widescreen and should be equipped with a digital video input like DVI or HDMI that accepts various HD formats. Failing that, analogue component connectivity will do.
With broadcasters like HD1 already sending limited programmes and Sky launching their services next year it's no coincidence the next generation of flat screens are arriving equipped to meet the standards. So JVC's 32DS6BJ LCD TV features a WXGA panel with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 that has pixels to spare.
An HDMI input accompanies more conventional connections including analogue component inputs supporting progressive scan. And, until HDTV properly arrives, there's an integrated digital tuner decoding Freeview broadcasts.
While beautifully designed, take a little time to tinker with an array of advanced picture settings - the 'Cool' preset mode looks best, and you'll find it's more than just a pretty panel. Digital broadcasts via Freeview easily outperform their analogue understudies with a bright picture that exposes detail without concealing contrast while radiant colours render a full spectrum of shades.
These Freeview broadcasts are accompanied by easily explored menus featuring moving thumbnails and a basic EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) that lets you search for programmes, access information and schedule reminders or even set recordings if you have any suitable 'linked' devices.
Without access to HD broadcasts, you can get an idea of the image quality on its way by playing DVDs via the digital HDMI input. Blacks are darker than a Goth's wardrobe, instilling images with amazing detail and almost tangible three-dimensionality. The picture raises the performance bar to heights that can't be reached by analogue connections.
Complex scenes are occasionally affected by staggered movement and a drizzle of digital noise but it never escalates into a downpour and it's still a sign that LCD can't quite match plasma's hand in the large screen stakes. At least not yet.