The LT-42DR9BJ is one of our favourite TVs of days gone by. On account of its new, lower price point and the fact that it can act as a barometer of how, if at all, the TV market is progressing.
Sometimes we find old favourites retaining an edge over newer pretenders. Sadly, not today. Not that the 42DR9BJ makes a bad first impression. Its bold black frame and blue neon strip light give it an appealingly retro appearance.
However, its relative age starts to show with its connections, as you find a merely decent three HDMIs being joined by neither any USB ports nor, even, a D-Sub PC jack.
While the screen does enjoy a full HD resolution, you don't have to look much further down its spec sheet to find another cause for concern: a disturbingly low claimed contrast ratio of just 7,500:1.
So it's perhaps surprising that the 42DR9BJ's pictures initially look good. But then the TV does, after all, carry JVC's redoubtable DynaPix HD video processing.
This system, after a flawed first generation, has gradually developed a proven track record in delivering exceptional sharpness and colour response. And it manages to continue that trend with the 42DR9BJ, enabling the TV to dazzle the casual onlooker's eye with a showboating display of HD fine detail and explosive – yet always believable – colour tones.
Impressively, DynaPix HD also manages to add huge amounts of sharpness to standard-def images. This flair for the dramatic in the 42DR9BJ's picture make up will likely earn it many impulse buys from people scanning down the crowded shelves of their local electronics store, especially given its attractive price tag.
But the longer you spend with the 42DR9BJ, the more you see past the gloss to a couple of glaring issues. By far the worst of these is the set's black level response, which isn't in the same ball park as any of its rivals. Dark scenes and even dark parts of otherwise bright scenes look significantly greyed over – a fact which can also impact colour tones.
Another less significant problem is that in sharpening up standard definition sources, the 42DR9BJ can sometimes exaggerate any noise that might be in the original signal. There's also slightly more blurring over motion evident than with our rival screens.
With some surprisingly powerful, bass-laden sound keeping the pictures company, it might appear as if we've not really managed to come up with much evidence against JVC's offering. Sadly, however, its single biggest failing, that of its black level response, is bad enough in itself to make the 42DR9BJ a TV out of time.
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