Flatscreen TVs have ushered in a new era of style for the humble television set, but we have seen few plasma and LCD screens that can compete with this JVC offering in the looks department. Coupled with its optional steel and glass stand - from swanky Italian design studio Bellini - the black-framed PD-42B50 is truly stunning to look at. Okay, so the stand will set you back an extra £500 on top of the basic £3,000 price tag, but when did this kind of style ever come cheap?
If you're not tempted by the designer stand, the screen is also suitable for wall-mounting and it is one of the few plasma screens to come supplied with a fixed wall bracket. The only significant black mark against it being stuck up above your fireplace is the fact that all the connections are located at the back of the screen itself, and not in a separate multimedia box, which means you'll need to find a way to hide the glut of unsightly cables - not easy.
The connections on offer are pretty standard: a component video input and a trio of Scarts (two of which are RGB compatible) are the chief AV sockets, and PC owners may be interested to note that there is also an analogue D-sub input for their computers.
Sadly, there is no sign of an HDMI or DVI input, so this screen isn't the ideal partner for a digital video-outputting DVD player, and won't be able to enjoy Sky's high-definition broadcasts - mooted for launch in 2006.
As with its connections, the PD-42B50's specifications don't make for particularly impressive reading on paper. The 3,000:1 contrast ratio might sound mighty tasty, but companies generally measure these figures in different ways, and consequently it's wise to take them with quite a hefty pinch of salt (make that a fistful). Perhaps the biggest cause for concern is the resolution of just 852 x 480 pixels, which is paltry when compared to the 1,024 x 1,024 and 1,280 x 720 panels used on a host of other rival screens.
JVC's decision to include its proprietary DIST system goes some way towards atoning for this flaw. DIST includes technology that increases the detail of the image by scaling it up, so the low resolution doesn't really seem apparent when you've got this in action...
Up close and personal
Detail is given a noticeable boost, with the edges of objects looking sharper. The DIST technology can be toned down or turned off if you prefer, and with DVDs we found that less was most definitely more, with the softer, smoother edges suiting the SFX fest that is Jurassic Park better than starkly defined lines. But the technology does mean that video games look superb.
The screen's contrast range is excellent, with rich, deep blacks and bright, light colours achieved. Colour banding is almost non existent, and movement is handled with a minimum of blurring and juddering. The only significant flaw in the image is a noticeable 'grid' effect that occasionally pops up in areas of solid lighter colours, but overall it doesn't affect the picture to an alarming degree.
Accompanying the pictures is some top-quality stereo audio, courtesy of the BBE sound processing system (although you'd be mad to settle for). There is a virtual surround mode available, but true surround sound it ain't.
It looks great, and it isn't a bad performer, but this 42in JVC doesn't quite justify its asking price. Worthy of consideration only if you're a fanatic gamer who wants a screen that makes a serious style statement - and can afford the optional stand.