JVC LT-46FN97 46-inch LCD HDTV

These days, HDTV shoppers who ask about the differences between flat-panel technologies will likely get the traditional response: LCD is more durable and more suitable for bright rooms than plasma, while plasma has better picture quality in rooms with less light. Of course, what TV salesmen often ignore is that plasma is perfectly durable in its own right and can get plenty bright for bright rooms and that LCDs are getting better and better at producing a home theater-worthy picture.

the listRecent models such as the JVC LT-46FN97 46-inch LCD HDTV are helping blur that line even further. It's big enough to challenge plasmas at the home theater game, and it brings an extra trump card to the table: 1080p resolution. That means it can display every detail of the highest-resolution sources available today (though it's worth noting that most viewers will have difficulty seeing the difference in detail at this screen size). Aside from its native resolution, however, the LT-46FN97 looks a lot like a plasma on its spec sheet, and in person, with about an inch of matte-black frame on three sides and a thicker area below the screen housing the speakers.

SETUP The JVC's back panel includes the requisite pair of HDMI inputs, albeit spaced a bit too tightly to accommodate my bulky DVI-to-HDMI adapter alongside a standard HDMI cable. Another small disappointment: The JVC's HDMI ports won't accept a native 1080p signal from a high-def disc player, though it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p sources.

Along with HDMI are three inputs offering the usual variety of composite-, S-, and component-video jacks, as well as a VGA option. These are ganged up, so you choose one set of connectors to use for each input.