The 2008 HDTV Technology Face Off JVC LT-47X898 LCD HDTV


120 hertz to the rescue?

The JVC marks the beginning of the middle of our pack. The Sharp and Samsung were strongly at the bottom of the voting, and the winner and runner-up were strongly at the top. The middle three, starting with the JVC, were separated by less than a point when the scores were tallied. The highest vote ranked this TV third, the lowest, fifth.

As is pretty typical with JVC products, the processing is among the best in the industry. It passes all of the deinterlacing tests and pulls a lot of detail from DVDs. In fact, detail across the board was very good. John Higgins and Tom Norton both cited the video-noise levels as pretty low.

One of this TV's selling points, that of 120-hertz refresh, never came up. Believe it or not, this is a good thing. JVC's implementation of 120 Hz, unlike recent displays we've reviewed with the same technology, didn't create wild motion artifacts. Instead, it just worked in the background to minimize motion blur. The result was that everyone commented on how detailed the image appeared with all of the video selections.

Following a quick look at the measurements chart, you may find it surprising to see that this display actually had the lowest measured black level out of any of the displays here. A measured 0.005 ft-L would be commendable, if you ever saw it. The problem is, you never do. The JVC tracks the incoming video signal and varies the backlight accordingly. So if it's a bright scene, the JVC raises the backlight, making the whole screen brighter. If it's a dark scene, it dims the backlight, so the black level seems darker. Thus, the problem is, if there is any amount of light in the material you're watching (as in, anything you'd watch), the black level is higher than 0.005 ft-L. Most of the time, it's a lot higher. The judges made many comments about how bright the letterbox bars looked. Not helping was an ANSI contrast ratio of 667:1, the lowest among the flat panels. The full-on/full-off contrast ratio of 11,000:1 is false, a purely dynamic number. It's impossible to say what the non-dynamic contrast ratio is, as you can't disable the backlight tracking. The only backlight control is merely a limiter; so if the image is too bright for you, you can cap it out where you want. This does not affect black level. So, with this set to its minimum, the contrast ratio is 2,200:1, but even this seems high given the ANSI contrast ratio of 667:1. (LCDs usually have nearly identical ANSI and full-on/full-off numbers.)

Then there was the question of price. This was the smallest TV in the Face Off, and although it was $200 cheaper than the other flat panels (the Sharp was $3,500 at the time), some of the judges felt this meant it was still pricey.

This TV—and trust me, this is a compliment—is the TV for nerds. It has excellent processing, has tons of controls for nearly every aspect of performance, and 120 Hz is cool and the latest in technology. It does just about everything right but just doesn't have the visceral impact of some of the others here because of pretty average contrast ratios.

• Excellent processing
• 120 Hz here but not seen

At A Glance: JVC LT-47X898 LCD HDTV

Type: LCD
Screen Size (diagonal, inches): 47
Native Resolution / Aspect Ratio: 1,920 by 1,080 /16:9
Lamp Life: N/A
Wall Mount or Stand Included?: Stand
Dimensions (H x W x D, inches): 30.5 x 44.25 x 11.75
Weight (pounds): 77
Price: $3,300

Video: HDMI (3), RGB-PC (1) component video (2), S-video (1-shared), composite video (3-shared)
Audio: Stereo analog (4)
Video: None
Audio: Optical (1), stereo analog (1)
Additional: RS-232

HT Labs Measures: JVC LT-47X898 LCD HDTV

Full-On/Full-Off Contrast Ratio—11,000:1; ANSI Contrast Ratio—667:1

Measured Resolution with the Leader LT-446:
480: 480 (per picture height)
720p: 720 (pph)
1080i: 1080 (pph)

DC Restoration (poor, average, good, excellent): Excellent

Color Decoder (poor, average, good, excellent): Good

Measured Color Points:
Red Color Point: x=0.661, y=0.324
Green Color Point: x=0.200, y=0.663
Blue Color Point: x=0.141, y=0.083

The top chart shows the LT-47X898's gray scale relative to its color temperature at various levels of intensity, or brightness (20 IRE is dark gray; 100 IRE is bright white). The gray scale as set by the factory, in the Low color-temperature mode and the Theater picture mode, measures slightly warm with dark images and slightly cool with brighter images. After making adjustments using the Photo Research PR-650, the gray scale measures closer to D6500, the accurate color temperature, across the entire range. There is also a more accurate amount of green in the image after calibration.

The bottom chart shows the gray scale (or color temperature) relative to the color points of the display's red, green, and blue color filters. These are off those specified by SMPTE. Red is somewhat oversaturated and very slightly purplish-red, and green is very oversaturated and rather bluish-green. Blue is very slightly oversaturated and somewhat greenish-blue.

After calibration, and using a full-field 100-IRE white (55 foot-lamberts) and a full-field 0-IRE black (0.005 ft-L), the contrast ratio was 11,000:1. This is a highly dynamic number and is therefore not indicative of what you see on the screen. Using a 16-box checkerboard pattern (ANSI contrast), the contrast ratio was 667:1. The best contrast ratio was achieved with the Energy Saver Mode set to +30. Reducing this only reduces the maximum light output and does nothing to the black level.—GM

Ratings: JVC LT-47X898 LCD HDTV

Build Quality: 87 Average

Value: 87 Average

Features: 90 Good

Performance: 87 Average

Ergonomics: 87 Average

Overall Rating: 87 Average

General Information
LT-47X898 LCD HDTV, $3,300
(800) 526-5308

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