JVC Diamond DM65USR LCD Ultra HDTV Review Page 2

In short, I found that the JVC often required more fine-tuning to get the best out of different sources (and even different cable channels) than most HDTVs I’ve tested. I eventually settled on a combination of settings that produced excellent results, though the set-it-and-forget-it viewer might not be so patient (nor probably as picky!).

An eventual color calibration helped significantly in squeezing the best from the set. After everything was sorted out, the JVC produced more-than-engaging images, particularly on Blu-ray Discs and the better cable channels. I had no access to 4K program sources for this review (for reasons mentioned above, using 4K short subjects from YouTube was a non-starter). But the JVC’s 4K upconversion of 1080p sources was superb. I never saw any problems short of a trace of edge enhancement even at low settings of the Sharpness control. But this was invisible as a distinct artifact at a reasonable viewing distance (in my case, about 8 feet). At the Sharpness setting I chose (2 or 3 depending on the source—maximum is 20), good-quality source material was crisp and detailed without appearing artificial in any way.

Even before calibration, the set’s color was good; afterwards, it was hard to fault. But I did have to fiddle with the standard Color control a bit for different sources. It was calibrated at a setting of 57, but occasionally I had to increase it by a few steps to achieve satisfactory fleshtones. With that done, however, any quibbles I had with the JVC’s color fell into the super-nitpicky category.

The set’s local dimming, even while limited to 32 zones, was excellent. Its black level and shadow detail, while not the best I’ve ever seen, were rarely disappointing. Most of the dark scenes on the Prometheus Blu-ray, for example, were appropriately gloomy but never looked muddy or crushed. Yes, as noted earlier, local dimming did help produce the set’s very peculiar gamma curves (see Test Bench)—curves that may have been responsible for my urge to tweak many of the settings for different sources. But the picture was so much better with the dimming than without it that I would never recommend turning it off.

The JVC’s major weakness was its off-axis performance. Sit more than 20 degrees or so off center, and you’ll see a significantly faded, compromised picture. I can’t come down too hard on the set for this, since it afflicts most LCD designs, but it’s still something you need to be aware of. (Off-axis issues on LCD sets are less evident in a showroom because they invariably have their TVs in their ultra-bright “Torch Mode.”)

The JVC’s brightness uniformity was also good. There was no uneven cloudiness on full-screen, near-black images (some refer to this as DSE, for dirty screen effect). As full-screen whites got brighter, however, there were some ghost-like lines clearly originating from a discrete array of geometrically arranged LEDs firing through diffusors. But this was not pronounced and rarely visible on normal program material.

The JVC also offered some of the best sound I’ve yet heard from a flat-screen set. It had no real bass, but it didn’t sound thin or scratchy. And while I wouldn’t call it uncolored sonically, I adjusted to its colorations quickly. I’d certainly replace it with an outboard audio system or a decent soundbar as soon as possible if I didn’t have either already, but I wouldn’t feel deeply deprived in the meantime.

The set offers the choice of PCM, Dolby Digital, or Off for the Toslink audio output. In PCM, it provides only stereo. Set to Dolby Digital, however, it will send out multichannel to your multichannel soundbar or other sound system from a connected Dolby Digital source component, but only stereo for a DTS multichannel source. The Toslink multichannel output for DD is welcome (and rare in other sets), though the lack of the same on DTS is limiting here as it is in pretty much all flat panels; DTS is the dominant multichannel format on today’s Blu-ray soundtracks.

JVC vs. Kuro
My 60-inch Pioneer PRO-141FD Kuro, though long unavailable, is still one of the two or three sets almost universally considered to be obvious reference standards.

Not surprisingly, the black background on an Oppo player’s splash screen was significantly darker on the Kuro than on the JVC. The JVC also had a bit more haloing—the light areas most visible around white lettering against a dark screen. The latter is unavoidable with local dimming, and more so with a small number of lighting zones. But I rarely found this noticeable, and never troublesome, on typical program material.

When the source image goes fully black, and if your room is dark enough, you’ll still see a hint of light on the Pioneer’s screen, but none at all on the locally dimmed JVC. However, with real program material, the differences between the sets could be surprising. On Prometheus, for example, the dark areas on the “Scott Free” production promo were actually darker on the JVC, as was the dark cave scene in chapter 10 as the explorers and their flashlights emerge in a small area of the screen while the rest of the picture remains completely black. But in the starfield at the beginning of the movie, with a crescent-lit planet against it, the Pioneer stomped the JVC, with much brighter stars against an inky-black sky.

The colors blue and (blue sky) cyan looked a little more natural on the JVC, and the Kuro was a little warmer looking overall on other colors and fleshtones.

But these color differences were inconsequential. The JVC, like most LCDs, was also capable of far higher brightness than any plasma, though for this comparison, it was toned down to match the maximum linear output I could achieve on the Pioneer. In that darkened room, the Pioneer’s images had a trace more of that elusive “punch,” but the JVC could come impressively close with its Dynamic Contrast Control set to Middle or High and its Gamma Style on Dark.

The JVC was also a bit sharper and more detailed than the Kuro, but not in a way that suggests its 4K upconversion had much to do with this. I’ve tested a number of 1080p sets (now called Full HD) that were marginally sharper than the Pioneer—though the latter can in no way be called soft. In its off-axis performance, however, the Pioneer wiped out the JVC—as any good plasma does when compared with most LCD designs.

I’m torn. I give the JVC a high performance score because, on the program material I consider most critical (movies viewed in a darkened room), it was so enjoyable to watch and cost so little (relatively speaking—$2K isn’t chicken feed for most of us). And for daytime viewing, it goes brighter than any plasma can, while still offering a satisfying picture.

Still, its video signal clipping, combined with its very odd gamma curves and disappointing streaming via its Roku Stick (though it’s possible my wireless connection was at least partly to fault), plus the few other quirks mentioned here, keep the perfectionist in me from giving it an encumbered recommendation and a Top Pick. Nevertheless, it does a lot right for the right price and provides at least a degree of future-proofing for our (soon to be?) 4K video world.

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NeuralChris's picture

If they don't have Netflix or Amazon Apps built in, how do you view 4k source content? I don't believe any of the standalone players support it.

mikem's picture

How would the average viewer, defined as one who is not an audio-videophile, know about measurements and the expertise that you offer in reviewing tvs'? I purchased a 55" inch panny plasma 3 yrs. ago, based on your review and settings you provided. I employed those settings exactly and am still amazed at the picture and more importantly the black level. I should also note a year ago I had cataract surgery and new glasses and I am now even more astonished at the picture. Further, I have an external Darblet, and this brings the picture to near 4K territory with depth of field and complex material such as 2001 and other sci-fi movies rich in black against stars. I like showing friends comparison with the Darbee on/off. The stars look like they are lit by led lights. Just some thoughts...........

hulinning2's picture

Based on your review, I would like to know how bad off-axis performance is.
I plan to buy this while it is on sale. but I am a bit worried about this issue when my guess sits on the sides (more than 20 degrees) from the center of the TV set.
Is there a work around? I notice you mentioned that in showrooms you do not see this issue due to the settings is much brighter. I see this myself too on Samsung UN65HU8550 model. If your setting is too bright then it might reduce its LED life. is that correct? Thanks for your consideration.