Even though the HD-Ready JVC HD-56ZR7J lacks the svelte looks of a style-statement flatscreen TV, it stills cooks up an aesthetic storm - not bad going for a rear-pro TV.
Things look good on the inside, too, as this £2,800 JVC has something called HD-ILA LCOS up its sleeve, the latest technology that promises to deliver the brightest and cleanest pictures yet seen on a rear-pro set. Will this development kick new life into a format that is facing serious competition from the flatscreen armies?
Well, the connectivity hits the spot: there's an HDMI input, component video inputs, a PC port and three Scarts. This JVC boasts a native resolution of 1366 x 768, but 1080p is strictly off limits.
Feature-wise, the HD-56ZR7J is good rather than great - there's no digital tuner, for starters. But DynaPix image processing is on board, which can deliver a nice package of image boosting tricks, such as DIST for enhancing details and Super DigiPure for some neat contrast tweaks.
Cracking our high definition feed of Lord of the Rings, we were pleasantly surprised with what the JVC can do. The levels of fine detailing it's capable of producing are excellent and pictures are mercifully free from artefacts, rainbow effect and noise. Colours are also great: in fact, we'd argue that this rear-pro's colour range is even greater than LCD technology, which is a pleasant surprise.
Black levels are much deeper than we had expected - they're not as cavernous as some of the best DLP models, but are deep enough to kick into touch the flatness and greyness that were seen in dark areas with previous D-ILA technologies.
We have few criticisms. You have to be careful with the Super Digipure mode, as there can be problems with video noise levels if you have the setting above Minimum. Also, there are issues with brightness if you're not viewing at screen level. Brightness also proves a bit troublesome with HDMI viewing, emphasising MPEG artefacting found in DVD transfers.
Still, these are minor issues, and these problems can be overcome with a bit of patience and fine-tuning, and a small price to pay for some terrific hi-def pictures.
Sonically, this JVC is a cracker, with oodles of bass wallop and a huge soundstage: all in all, an impressive companion to the fine pictures.
With the advent of HD-ILA LCOS, rear-pro technology gets a shot in the arm and takes on its flatscreen rivals with comparative ease.