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JVC LC-32DA8BJ review

Very affordable this TV may be, but its black levels are troubling

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Our Verdict

Bright, sharp HD images and standard-def scaling is unusually good. Black levels can look washed out, leaving dark scenes flat

For

  • Great HD pictures
  • Impressive scaling

Against

  • Dodgy black levels
  • Dull styling

At marginally under £500, JVC's LC-32DA8BJ looks very good value on paper.

It's HD Ready, of course (we wouldn't review it if it wasn't), with a native 1366 x 768 pixel count; its connections include twin HDMIs and a component video input to meet your HD needs.

It's also got a respectable contrast ratio and sports JVC's proprietary DynaPix image processing, which includes elements as diverse as improved image scaling and better noise reduction, automatic black-level correction, plus automatic management of colour and contrast.

Yet before I get too carried away by this fine-sounding tech, it's time for a reality check.

 

The 32DA8BJ is a rather flimsily-built and blandly-styled affair, and its connections lack the VGA PC option that would have made the screen easy to double up as a large-screen computer monitor.

Don't plan on routing 1080p24 video into it either; the HDMIs can't take 1080p signals. It's also missing some of the fancier TV tech available today, such as dynamic contrast.

In other words, the TV can't dim its backlight when dark scenes are detected to boost black level response - a shortcoming that goes some way to explaining why the 32DA8BJ's contrast ratio tops out at 1,200:1 when most rivals claim (admittedly, very optimistically) figures like 8,000:1.

Disappointing black levels

It's no surprise then that the 32DA8BJ's visual dynamic range really is disappointing.

The dark scenes that make up almost the whole of Blade Runner (Blu-ray) look grey and flat, with precious little background detail visible through the murk. Colours are also affected by the tepid black levels.

The 32DA8BJ does have some good points. For instance, rare light Blade Runner moments, like those in the eye specialist's laboratory, look exceptionally bright, and the rich colours of the floating neon 'billboards' are richly saturated.

Detailed HD pictures

The TV also delivers the detail and clarity of the HD image with aplomb - a reminder of just how good DynaPix's scaling engine can be.

There's not much motion-smearing either, and the DIST system helps deliver a superior performance with standard-definition programmes.

But, since many of our favourite films take place in all kinds of darkness, the 32DA8BJ's overt black level problems crush any real chance it might have had of really shining out amongst its peers and rivals in this grouptest.