JVC LT-46FN97 1080p LCD Flat Panel Television Page 2
Command and Control
The JVC's on-screen menus offer the usual set of video controls: Tint, Color, Picture (contrast), Bright (brightness), and Detail (sharpness). In addition, a Color Temperature control offers two settings, High and Low.
There is also an Energy Saver Mode, which adjusts the overall brightness of the image over a range of -30 to +30. What this actually appears to be is a backlight adjustment. I found that it produced the most natural, comfortable image when turned down nearly all the way. I used a setting of -25 for most of my tests.
The Color Management feature is said to "Ensure dull colors are compensated to produce natural hues." I saw little or no change when I engaged this on good program material, so I left it Off.
Dynamic Gamma, to quote the manual again, "Makes it easier to see dark areas when a picture has many dark areas, and makes it easier to see the bright areas when the picture has many bright areas." Its effect was subtle, but I left this feature off as well.
Smart Picture "detects the APL (Average Picture Level) and adjusts the contrast suitable for what you are watching." Off again.
Smart Sensor adjusts the brightness depending on the light in the room. You can also turn on a Sensor Effect feature that triggers an indicator on the screen when Smart Sensor is adjusting the brightness. Smart Sensor may be helpful, perhaps, for casual viewing, but I didn't use it in my tests.
Natural Cinema engages 3:2 pulldown, with Auto, On, and Off settings.
There are also a number of those ubiquitous features that all sets offer in one form or other, such as multiple aspect ratios, parental lockout (V-Chip), freeze, and Twin (displays two sources side-by-side on screen).
I never felt the need for video noise reduction on any high-definition or good quality standard definition sources I watched on the JVC, but I did occasionally find the set's two video noise reduction controls useful on mediocre analog cable stations. The Digital VNR has four positions: Auto, Min, Max, and Off. Max produced the best result on those marginal signals, though it did soften image detail. MPEG NR, set simply to On/Off, is said to reduce block noise and mosquito noise together. The MPEG NR control produced no noticeable degradation in the image, but since neither of these MPEG artifacts was ever distracting to me as I watched the JVC, I also turned this feature off.
There are also four selectable video modes: Standard, Dynamic, Theater, and Game. JVC does not refer to these options as modes, however, but rather lists them (oddly) in a menu called Video Status. You can manually change the picture control settings for these "modes," and configure them separately for each input for both HD (720p/1080i) and SD (480i/p).
The Standard, Dynamic, and Game modes were too bright and cartoonish. They also add edge enhancement that can't be dialed out with the Detail control. I can understand why some users might want to select Standard for bright daytime viewing, and it's there if you need it. But Theater produced the most natural-looking image in subdued room lighting.
There's also a separate button called Theater Pro, which is claimed to provide the most accurate color temperature (D6500). That's the setting I used for all of my evaluations and measurements. The Theater setting of the Video Status control, with the Color Temperature control set on Low, appeared to be identical to Theater Pro.
The set's onboard audio system sounds OK for the nightly news, but you'll want to use your outboard home theater audio gear for any serious viewing. The audio controls include the sort of gee-whiz modes that appear on most TVs these days. These include MaxxBass, which sounds gimmicky but actually makes the rather tinny sound of the set's two 1.6" x 6.3" speakers far more tolerable at moderate volume, without adding boom. Smart Sound compresses the audio to limit annoyingly loud commercials, or to let you fall asleep more easily while watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes on the Late, Late Show.
I wasn't impressed by the JVC's remote control. It's programmable for up to four devices (including the TV). It's illuminated, but the backlighting isn't as useful as it should be. The buttons light up, but most of their functions are designated on the body of the remote, which isn't backlit, rather than on the buttons themselves, which are. There are also too many buttons of identical shape and size. And while the main Menu button is easy to find, a number of important functions may be accessed only through dedicated buttons on the remote that are less prominently positioned. Still, as with most problematic remotes, it wasn't as annoying after I got used to it as it was on first touch.
But there was one major ergonomic nuisance that didn't go away with time: the inputs may not be accessed directly but only by going "around the horn" using the Input button. This is made worse by a one or two second delay when switching from one input to the next. And you can't jump ahead two or three input selections by rapidly pushing the Input button two or three times. The set must lock onto each subsequent input in the chain before it will accept a command to move on to the next.
I live in a difficult reception area, with the line of sight to the transmitter blocked by a mountain ridge (I use an outside antenna with a signal amplifier). The high-definition stations I picked up using the set's on-board ATSC tuner looked pristine, but while I was able to pick up a reasonable range of DTV stations, I could not pick up the local NBC affiliate, Channel 4. Some of the other ATSC tuners I have tested in this location (but not all) have also failed to grab this signal. The JVC's tuner also had a problem with frequent macroblocking breakup on channel 7 (ABC). It also picked up CBS and Fox. For PBS it locked onto channel 28 in Los Angeles and channel 58 in San Bernardino, but not PBS Channel 50 in Orange County, which some tuners I've tested have been able to pick up.