Until very recently, JVC's AV-32R47SK cost £800. It now costs just £600, which makes it a very tantalising prospect. Will it provide the features and performance of a mid-range TV, for what is approaching a budget price? Let's hope so...
This 32in TV looks slightly odd. Not because there's anything wrong with JVC's basic design; in fact, its sturdy finish and tasteful curves are quite easy on the eye. The oddity is the plastic lump that sits alongside it - and, intriguingly, contains a subwoofer. Finally, a TV that takes the issue of bass seriously!
Connections-wise, the provision of three Scarts (two RGB-capable) rates as reasonably generous. We're also treated to spring-clip connections for optional rear speakers, so that you can take full advantage of the TV's built-in Pro-Logic surround decoding.
The AV-32R47SK's other interesting features are to do with sound as well, and include a test-tone generator to help you set relative speaker channel volumes and distances, and a centre speaker under the screen to help dialogue remain clear.
The JVC hasn't neglected pictures, however - although they're 50Hz, they're hugely enjoyable. In fact, when viewing richly hued scenes from our Troy test DVD - like the scrap between Achilles and Hector - colours were so vibrant and solid that the TV actually looked like it had 100Hz processing. Naturalism is outstanding, too, with even the tricky-to-render skin-tones of the Spartans appearing both cinematic and believable.
The screen also belies its 50Hz heart with a lack of picture noise. The Troy shot where the camera tracks across a sea filled with countless Spartan ships can suffer grain and colour moiring on lesser 50Hz screens, but on this JVC it looks as clean as Helen's favourite white dress.
The dark shots showing Achilles' cremation reveal the JVC's very decent contrast range - but they also show up a strange settings problem. With the brightness and contrast set to suit dark scenes like the cremation, bright scenes look a touch too bright. Yet with the brightness and contrast set to suit light scenes, the cremation scene looks a touch too dark.
Other smaller problems that ultimately rob the AV-32R47SK's pictures of a five-star rating are some slight geometry issues and a generally soft finish that doesn't quite do Troy's immaculate DVD transfer justice. JVC's heavy focus on sound pays dividends with Troy's soundtrack, however. That external subwoofer helps the AV-32R47SK serve up bass levels that most integrated TVs can only dream about.
It kicks in much more readily than the one built into the Sony 28CS70U, and sounds more in harmony with the TV's speakers when it does make its presence known. It can occasionally over-deepen male voices, but mostly it works a treat.
The defining characteristic of the AV-32R47SK is that it's way better than you've any right to expect for the money. Sure, spending a bit more could get you a slightly better performer - in terms of pictures at least. But for £600, this is about as good as it gets.