The plasma-threatening shift in LCD TVs towards ever-bigger screen sizes continues apace. More and more big-name brands are releasing screens well above the 32in level that largely marked the extent of their ambitions this time last year.
JVC's LT-37DS6FJ, as its name suggests, is one of those 37in LCD TVs. And it wears its size well, courtesy of a black and silver colour scheme, and some cunning angles and curves. Add a futuristic floorstand and you have a slicklooking package.
Its connectivity is reasonable too - especially since it includes an HDMI jack and component video inputs, fulfilling the connectivity part of EICTA's HD Ready criteria. There's also a CAM slot (confirming that there's a built-in digital TV tuner), a D-Sub PC port and two Scarts. I tend to think that a high-end TV like this ought to have at least three Scarts, even given all the higher quality alternatives provided, but most should be able to cope.
Feature-wise, the 37DS6FJ is loaded to the gunnels. The digital tuner, is backed up by support for Freeview's seven-day electronic programme guide, along with genre searching and direct-selection timer setting for 10 events.
Also present is JVC's Digital Image Scaling Technology - DIST to its friends. The key attribute of DIST is its ability to fabricate extra pixels of detail to the picture. More picture processing shenanigans come via JVC's Super Digipure suite, which includes colour management, alongside sophisticated techniques for automatically optimising the contrast range and edge delineation according to the source content.
Other tricks worth a passing mention include a single-tuner picturein- picture, and BBE audio processing with bass booster.
The TV's panel-specs make impressive reading. The native resolution is an HD Ready 1366 x 768, while the claimed 800:1 contrast ratio reads well by LCD technology standards. As do a high quoted brightness of 600cd/m2, and an exceptionally low response time of 12ms. This latter figure raises great hopes of the 37DS6FJ avoiding almost all traces of LCD's common problems with smearing over motion.
The set certainly delivers when it comes to reduced image smearing. Even material as fast-moving as a football match looks crisp and sharp - a feat seen on precious few rivals.
Picture sharpness is also worthy of praise. High-definition sources look as clear and accurately rendered as I've seen them on LCD, in fact. Standard definition feeds are also sharp, thanks to DIST's talent for adding extra texture and fine detail. In fact, DIST's detail boosting talents have never been more apparent than they are here.
Interestingly, DIST's sharpness enhancement is achieved with practically no trace of the unwanted side effects that have plagued previous generations. The old noise, blocking, blurring, image lag and artificial colour tones are more or less gone, and pictures now look for the most part emphatically direct. Even Freeview's notoriously soft and textureless weaker channels have clarity.
Another big strength of the 37DS6FJ is its colour fidelity. Vivid saturations are achieved with noticeably little of the noise that sometimes accompanies such aggressively bright palettes.
In our labs, we rated contrast at 500:1 after calibration, which can be considered good. There's certainly plenty of range between its impeccable peak whites and its solid deep blacks. But there are some caveats, albeit small ones. While blacks don't suffer much of the greying seen on some of the lesser LCD sets, they also don't possess much shadow detail. This can make some of the dark areas seem rather empty.
I also noticed a slight shimmering over fine details at times. I'm not talking about the customary moiring interference, though; more just a slight instability to particularly fine lines. It could be argued though that these niggles are part and parcel of current LCD technology, rather than any inherent problems with this JVC.
Finally, the 37DS6FJ can bring more attention to MPEG artefacts in HDMI digital feeds than we'd ideally like. But if you rein in the picture's brightness a bit, this noise stays low-level enough not to do serious harm. The 37DS6FJ's underscreen speakers look a bit small and ineffectual - but actually prove quite potent. The only minus point is that the soundstage is a bit narrow.
Despite my miserly caveats, I would rate the picture performance of this model as distinctly premier league with good connectivity and a great design aesthetic.
Of course, you can get a 37inch LCD for less (see the Philips reviewed on p48), but in reality it doesn't come close in terms of performance. Overall this is probably the best JVC DIST model yet. John Archer