JVC HD-52Z575 52-inch Rear-Projection HDTV Page 3

PICTURE QUALITY After a thorough calibration for DVD sources (see "in the lab"), I slipped the Starsky & Hutch disc into my DVD player to see how the JVC performs in the real world . . . of 1970s buddy-cop TV-comedy remakes. One of the set's strengths revealed itself quickly in the rich colors of the cheerleaders' practice scene. As the two "stud" cops watched (or drooled) from the sidelines, the sunlit blue, yellow, and orange pastels of the cheerleaders' skimpy outfits were vibrant, and the girls' faces (from pinkish pale to deeply tanned) looked natural.

After I adjusted the brightness control, the deepest blacks - like the corners inside Huggy Bear's club - didn't look as dark as they would in real life. Still, dimly lit scenes looked clean, with no obvious gradations.

Next up was HDTV. Using an over-the-air tuner, I watched the New York Giants vs. the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome. The colors really popped, and the synthetic FieldTurf looked amazingly grasslike - its claim to fame.

Watching a nature show on cable's Discovery HD Theater, I could make out individual whiskers on the black African leopards, and blades of grass in the field where they roamed looked so real that I wanted to reach out and pluck them.

BOTTOM LINE The biggest weakness of the JVC is that, like its DLP-based cousins, it can't produce absolute deep blacks. On the other hand, you can make the set bright enough to watch in a fully sunlit room. Its three-chip design means you never have to worry about the "rainbow effect" sometimes seen in single-chip displays using color wheels. The design must also contribute to more accurate color - the set performed superbly in that respect. While some other manufacturers have been unable to make the new LCoS technology work, JVC seems to have gotten it right.

In The Lab

Color temperature (Low setting before/after calibration) Low window (20-IRE) ............... 8,644/6,248 K High window (100-IRE) ............ 8,456/6,540 K

Brightness (100-IRE window before/after calibration) 138/51.5 ftL

The HD-52Z575 was set to maximum contrast out of the box, resulting in an extremely bright picture, and its initial grayscale on the Low setting was quite blue. After calibration, the grayscale was very close to 6,500 K in all areas. Peak brightness, though still high, was much lower than before. (Calibration needs to be performed by a qualified technician, so discuss it with your dealer before purchase, or call the Imaging Science Foundation at 561-997-9073.)

Color decoding in the default setting was superb, and the TV did an excellent job of keeping the level of black consistent regardless of the brightness of the rest of the picture. Overscan was higher than I'd expect in a fixed-pixel set, but convergence of the three chips was excellent for the most part - I did detect some blue fringing at the extreme corners of the screen. I saw no sign of edge enhancement. Uniformity with both light and dark fields was very good, with little change in either brightness or color. - B.C.F.