Another bong of the bell announcing CRT's demise and this time JVC is wielding the hammer. The company has really got into this whole LCD business recently and the affordable, sensibly-sized LT-23D50BK looks set to give it a foothold in the area of the mainstream that was once exclusively tube territory.
This 23incher, like so many recent LCDs, is a tasteful, two-tone rectangle, with a black frame and a silver surround. It can be wall-mounted, but the default option is an elliptical tabletop stand that looks like it should swivel, but doesn't, limiting its movement to a couple of degrees of up/down tilting.
The spec sheet isn't quite the exciting read we'd hoped for, with no DynaPix processing suite, HDMI/DVI input or high-def compatibility to make use of the abundant pixels. The Freeview tuner is a strong selling point, though, and given the relatively small size of the screen and admirably low price, these omissions don't harm the set's credentials as a workaday CRT replacement or quality second set.
You'll be browsing digital television or toggling through your inputs in moments, thanks to a fast and idiot-proof installation sequence and a democratically simple ,yet more than sufficient, set of tweaks. There's nothing particularly earth-shattering in there, with a basic range of picture and sound adjustments and no real frills to speak of. The audio can be filtered through JVC's Hyper Sound option if you prefer a little more presence, but that's about as exciting as it gets.
If, like us, your first introduction to a TV's quality is through its handling of broadcast material, you will be struck by just how good it looks on this one. As with the more expensive model reviewed last issue (LT-32DS6), this JVC is a dab hand with colours and manages to stamp out noise to the point of virtual non-existence.
The picture is incredibly dynamic, with the kind of clarity you might normally expect from DVD. Kids' shows and news studios leap from the screen and even the glut of low-rent, plebs-with-problems talk-shows look relatively vibrant.
Switch to discs via RGB Scart or better yet, component, and the screen ups its game accordingly. A prodigious amount of detail is added to that splendid palette and motion is handled about as well as on any LCD we've seen.
The higher quality stuff does draw attention to the LT-23D50BK's chief flaw, however. Blacks aren't nearly robust enough and this is exacerbated by a slightly-too-noticeable backlight. This is a persistent flaw with LCD, but it does drag the overall experience down a few notches, which is a real shame.
Audio is also a little hit and miss, with a generally precise soundstage falling prey to distortion and confusion before it's cranked all the way up.
In all, the rather basic spec reinforces the idea that the LT-23D50BK is aimed at families or casual viewers rather than purists, and there's nothing wrong with that. Movie freaks, however, might want to look elsewhere for their primary source of video thrills. Jim Findlay