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JVC WX70 (LT-42WX70) LCD Monitor Review

JVC's new LCD monitor has no less than 52 picture adjustment options. But can we get a great image using them?

by AVForums
TV Review

4

Recommended
JVC WX70 (LT-42WX70) LCD Monitor Review
SRP: £2,000.00

Introduction

It's been a while since I got a chance to check out a JVC LCD display (the last time being the imperfect, but fairly impressive LT-46DS9BJ), so when I heard that the company was working on an LCD monitor targeting the high end user, I jumped at the chance to give it a full investigation. That monitor is the LT-42WX70, and JVC is targeting it at “home cinema enthusiasts, custom installers, and digital SLR users”, presumably hoping that the first two will be attracted by the screen's customisability and adherence to HDTV standards, and that the latter will enjoy its coverage of the sRGB and Adobe RGB colour gamuts. Let's see if the LT-42WX70 is a winner in a home cinema environment.

Styling

The world is certainly on a flat TV binge right now: JVC's monitor is only about 4cm deep, with its curved edges accentuating the slimness. The back of the unit is styled in silver, with one HDMI input on the right side (hidden under a plastic clip), two additional HDMI inputs mounted facing downwards on the back of the TV, as well as an analogue VGA (D-SUB) PC input, a 3.5mm audio input, an RS-232C input for system automation, speaker terminals (either for your own stereo speakers or the supplied speaker bar), and a mysterious, unlabelled port which I can only assume is for JVC service use.

What happens, though, if we want to connect devices by some means other than HDMI or D-SUB (“VGA”)? I imagine that, especially in the case of custom installs, most devices will be connected directly to a video processor outputting to the TV over HDMI, but there will still be cases where users want to connect devices directly to the panel. Fortunately, JVC bundle a Component video adapter with the display, which allows connection of these devices to the PC/D-SUB input. If you absolutely have to use a Composite video device, then you can do so by simply connecting the yellow video cable to the green Component "Y" input on the adapter. This is all explained by JVC in the manual, so don't worry if it sounds a little strange.

So, that takes care of HDMI (and, with a separate adapter, DVI), as well as VGA, Component, and Composite inputs. I don't imagine that anyone will really care about the loss of S-Video, but what about of RGB SCART inputs? These clunky connectors are, unfortunately, still in use on these shores on devices such as standard definition cable and satellite receivers, and the manual doesn't give any explanation as to how to interface these with the display. (JVC weren't available for comment at the time of publication, but I have reason to believe that these signals can be sent to the TV with some sort of adapter).

Around the front, things look good. The 42” LCD panel is covered in a slightly shiny finish, which incidentally (?), is something I suggested JVC do to increase perceived contrast, in my last review. The bezel itself is matte (hooray!) and has a pseudo-leather texture to it. Like the TV itself, the bezel is very thin, something I always like to see, as it makes the screen itself feel bigger by comparison. All of this is mounted on a very sleek perspex black base, which has a very fluid swivel action.

A reminder for readers who haven't noticed yet: this is a monitor, not a television. As such, there's no input for an aerial, cable feed, or satellite dish on the screen itself. Users who want to watch television will have to connect an external tuner device, such as a Satellite or Cable receiver box, or a DVD recorder/PVR which can receive the service of their choice, to one of the video inputs.

Menus/Setting Up

After plugging everything in and turning on, pressing the MENU button on the remote control brings up a vast (yet easy to navigate) selection of options. The top-most setting is called “Memory Setting”, of which there are six options (Memory1, Memory2, and so on). These Memory presets are shared between inputs (HDMI1's “Memory2” is the same as HDMI2's, for example), but there are two more memory banks than there are physical inputs anyway, so each one can still have its own settings with two banks going spare.



You can also choose “Load Preset” and copy some JVC factory settings into the current memory bank. Your choices here are Dynamic, Standard, Theater, Monitor, Photo Pro, and Game. “Monitor” provided the most accurate image, so I used this as a starting point for future setup.



Going down the list, we now have the picture tweaks themselves. We have a Hue control (active on all sources, not just Composite NTSC), and a separate “Hue Setting” screen which I didn't find a use for. Colour and Contrast hold no surprises, although there is a “Contrast Setting” screen which features adjustments for Black Stretch, Dynamic DC Offset, and Auto Contrast, which are all easily turned Off.

Brightness and Sharpness work as they should, too (setting the latter to its minimum -30 position killed all Sharpening, for a very clear, untouched image), and there's also a setting called “Enhancer” which has 5 different modes. These affect how much edge sharpening is applied, with Mode1 being the highest, and Mode5 being the lowest. Like so many other settings, the Enhancer has a few variables to tweak, too: Horizontal Sharpening, Vertical Sharpening, and a feature called “Detail”, which is very subtle indeed, but is still best left disabled.



The purist in me at first wanted to turn “Enhancer” off entirely, as I thought it was nothing more than an edge enhancement algorithm, which I simply don't need or want for 1080 HD input. What people may miss though, is the fact that it also controls JVC's great Chroma Upsampling feature. (Chroma Upsampling is where the low-resolution colour components of a compressed video signal are reconstructed to better fit the full-resolution black and white "base layer"). This is something I remarked on in my older review of the LT-46DS9BJ TV: JVC have developed a process which reconstructs the compromised coloured detail very convincingly. I'm once again surprised by how quiet JVC keep about this unique feature - their rivals at Panasonic continue to actively promote their own chroma upsampling process, which is less effective than this one.

Moving on, we have a control over the intensity of the Backlight lamps behind the screen, and two controls in a sub-menu which vary their intensity depending on picture content (I left them off). There's a Colour Matrix control, which lets you tell the TV exactly how to recover colour information from a Component signal (according to HDTV Rec.709 rules, or SDTV Rec.609 rules). There's also an “Auto” control which chooses for you, as a normal consumer TV would, and should work fine in most cases.

Then, there's a set of Colour Space options. We have a choice of Auto, Normal, Wide, x.v.Colour, and two colour spaces designed for PC monitor users: sRGB and Adobe RGB. “Normal” restrains the ultra-wide colour space of the panel to near Rec.709 HDTV standards, so I selected this option to make sure that no unnecessary pumping was being added to the colour. JVC boast about this screen's ability to resolve 96% of the wide Adobe RGB colour gamut, and make no mistake, that's technically impressive - but since we're feeding it video signals mastered for playback according to Rec.709 TV rules, making sure the colours hit these targets is the best way to go for the most lifelike picture.



Colour Temperature will probably be more familiar to AVForums readers: this lets us choose Greyscale characteristics, which include a “Normal” setting, 2 Cool modes, and 2 Warm modes (Warm2 was the closest to our desired D65 white). Below this, a “White Balance Setting” menu contains 6 options, which let us adjust the RGB cuts and gains, for Greyscale fine-tuning.



Next up is the Colour Management System. Even this has three different modes of operation, and of course, a separate screen which lets us make the necessary adjustments. Its implementation is a little strange, in that instead of letting us adjust Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Mangenta, and Yellow colour points, it lets us adjust Red, Green, Yellow, Cyan, and “Skin”. It also gives us controls for adjusting Bright and Dark areas, which is quite unconventional.

There's a Gamma control, with 6 different modes to choose from (but no further customisation, like we've seen on some JVC projectors), a “Picture Management” option which alters various picture settings for no real reason, and two noise reduction controls (“Digital VNR” which is a 3D Temporal filter, and “MPEG NR” which attempts to conceal mosquito noise in overcompressed video). If you're inputting Composite video, you can turn the Comb Filter processing (which removes cross-colouration and dot crawl) on or off by toggling the “3DY/C” option. "Natural Cinema" is also greyed-out unless you're inputting an Interlaced signal, and therefore appears to be a cadence detection option, for getting the maximum resolution out of Interlaced film signals.

Then, there's a “Picture Delay Time” option, which appears to be a control over the LCD overdrive. LCD panels typically receive instructions from the video processor, and if particularly challenging motion is detected, the voltage to the pixels can be temporarily “overdriven” to increase the response time of the panel. One of the side-effects of this is that because the TV needs to analyse motion ahead of actually showing it, a lag can be created in the process. JVC let us control the Overdrive process here, so we can tell the TV to either take its time and take a millisecond or two to make better panel driving decisions, or to fly by the seat of its pants and show us video ASAP (useful for video games, where input lag can kill the enjoyment).

There's also a “PC Monitor Mode”, the purpose of which is largely self-explanatory. Behind the scenes, it disables many of the controls which would hamper the display's use as a PC monitor, and restricts Colour System, Matrix, Space, Temperature, and Management options, as well as the 100hz/120hz motion interpolation system. It also tells the TV to expect a 4:4:4 signal with uncompressed colour.

Lastly, there's an Eco Mode, which decreases backlight intensity (and thus saves power, and the planet) and an “Other” screen, which lets us turn on or off the 100/120hz system, and also the “Real Bit Driver”, which smooths gradations in 8-bit video. Whew!

Test Results

Calibration: Before & After

Well, that is certainly a huge amount of control! Of course, it won't mean a thing to us if it doesn't make for an accurate image at the other end. To start with, I selected the most accurate picture preset (“Monitor”), and had a look at how it performed without any changes.

Firstly, the Black level (Brightness) control could be adjusted to gain some extra detail: raising it a few notches bought some extra shadow information, After this adjustment, came the measurements:

As the charts show, the biggest issue with the TV's performance right now is the excess Red in the Greyscale (this is using the Warm2, preset, by the way – Warm1 has excess blue). What was remarkably accurate, though, was the TV's colour reproduction. Although I've seen screens which hit their Hue and Saturation points (those are the points you can see on the CIE triangle chart above) more closely, the LT-42WX70 came very close to hitting the targets exactly AND managed to get colour Luminance right, too, which is much less common.

With these settings as a base, I began calibrating. The 42WX70 wasn't the easiest TV to calibrate; getting accurate Greyscale was quite tricky. Many of my early attempts resulted in excellent accuracy from 30 IRE up, but with 10, 20, and 50 IRE containing quite noticeable shifts (usually an excess of blue). In the end, I had to compromise some of the ruler-flat accuracy I obtained in the 30-60 range, but gained a much more accurate overall result which I was very happy with.

Doing this caused the Colour points to shift slightly, so I used the Colour Management System and began correcting these, too. You'll remember from before that the CMS can operate in one of three different modes, which seem to only change the starting point for the Brightness/Luminance of each colour. I used CMS Mode-2 (it was the closest to accurate already), and began measuring and adjusting.

I was surprised to see that the individual “Colour” controls actually affected the Luminance of the colours, not their Saturation, as is usually the case in a 2D system. This means that we have no dedicated way of adjusting the Saturation for each colour at all – not too big a loss, since this aspect of the screen's colour reproduction is very close to accurate, anyway. It's certainly a nice change from screens which don't let us alter colour Luminance.

After tweaking, the results were absolutely stunning. Aside from a slight green bump at 50 IRE, the greyscale was suitably flat enough to provide a solid base for painting great-looking video on top of. What was absolutely amazing though, was the colour reproduction. Granted, it wasn't possible to curtail the oversaturated red – at least not without severely undersaturating other colours, or giving it far too little luminance – but all of the other colours were almost bang-on target, and, for once, the Luminance of each colour was perfect - except for blue, which was a graph-pixel or two away from perfection.

The impressive result obviously wasn't left to graphs and statistics, though – real-world content looked fantastic, and, manufacturers reading this, take note – this was largely because of the level of control JVC gave us over the picture! Prior to calibration, images were by no means unwatchable, but didn't have the same amount of believability. It's tough to give an example here because of the improvement seen across the board, but just imagine flesh tones that look like flesh tones, grass that looks green instead of radioactive crayola neon, and you'll hopefully get the idea.

Video Processing

Next came the scaling and deinterlacing tests. I first sent the screen a 576i test pattern to see how well it could upconvert to the 1080p LCD panel. I had no complaints, as the smallest details were still sharp, and there wasn't much sign of ringing. The scaling quality wasn't as good as that of a dedicated video processor, which I imagine most users of this screen will go for, but I could fairly happily rely on the TV's own scaling if necessary.

Next, I got out the HQV Benchmark disc (PAL version) to further test the video processing capabilities of the display. I expected that enabling the “Natural Cinema” option in the Picture Menu with 576i feed would allow the TV to detect the 2-2 cadence and resolve all the detail from Film content without jagginess, but this was not the case. To avoid jaggies here, I had to rely on another device (my upscaling DVD player) to perform deinterlacing. A little disappointing, but a common flaw.

Performance was a little better with the 480i equivalent patterns, but only just: only the common 3-2 cadence passed, and even here, it took a little while for jaggies to disappear.

The Belle Nuit PAL test chart at the start of the disc wasn't without problems, either: the finely-detailed coloured components of the picture flashed constantly, even although the black and white components were perfectly rendered.

Lastly, the diagonal interpolation test provided an average result. Only the first of the three rotating white blocks was smooth, with the others showing obvious jaggedness.

What does all of this mean? It means that while the display's own video processing isn't unusable by any means, best results will still be obtained by using an upscaling DVD player or other off-board video processing device, and send already upconverted video to the 42WX70, to bypass its own SD video processing.

Gaming Performance

I decided to test the “Picture Delay Time” setting to find out to what extent the LT-42WX70 suffered from input lag. The bottom line is that while the lag can't be eliminated entirely, it can be curtailed to a very acceptable amount. I doubt I would have problems using this display for video games, but it didn't feel as responsive as the fastest Plasmas I've used recently.

Speaker Bar

People will inevitably ask about the quality of the bundled speaker bar, which can be mounted below the LCD panel. As usual, it's serviceable for watching some types of TV shows, but not convincing enough to recommend as a main solution for films.

Picture Quality

Although the flat greyscale tracking and sublime colour reproduction presented very accurate and (content permitting) beautiful looking images, there is just one problem with the 42WX70: its LCD panel, which has issues with its viewing angle. Depending on what you're watching, the picture quality can take quite a tumble when viewed from the sides, losing large amounts of contrast. It's nothing at all like the LCD panels of old which would invert into purpley-blackness when viewed from extreme angles – not by a long shot - but all of the gorgeous colour reproduction turns a little muddy, and flesh tones turn a salmony-pink. Granted, this has always been a problem with LCD technology, but there are still other LCD displays which hold up better from the sides than this one. Prospective owners will have to take their seating position into account when considering the 42WX70.

Also, there's a less troublesome, but still present issue with the response time of black areas. Black objects can leave sometimes noticeable trails behind them, but this depends greatly upon the temperature in the room (the colder, the smearier) and, unusually, on whether or not the TV has been calibrated or not. Although I'm used to seeing calibration improve the image quality greatly, I was surprised that it remedied something that I had previously thought to be an unavoidable panel issue.

When you're viewing straight-on, the image is wonderful for the most part. With the most detailed Blu-ray Disc sources, every single pixel of spatial detail is resolved, and the image holds up as well during motion as you could expect from an LCD display. Users also have the option of enabling the 100hz/120hz CMD system (CMD standing for “Clear Motion Drive”, JVC's motion vector interpolation algorithm), which is quite unusual in that it increases the motion resolution performance of the display without introducing the unnatural “smooth film” processing which is normally lumped together with such systems (so far, only Samsung has let us control these two variables independently and turn of the “smooth film” effect). JVC's implementation has all of the usual quirks of these systems: it does indeed increase motion resolution, but introduces some of its own artefacts into the mix. Fortunately, the choice of whether to use it or not is up to the viewer, and I was happy with the image from both modes.

The “Real Bit Driver” feature is also nice to have. It smooths gradations that have become rough due to 8-bit video encoding techniques. A good example is the blue-black background gradient on the Disney BD-Live menu screens on certain Disney Blu-ray titles, or the Celador Films logo at the beginning of "Slumdog Millionaire". I left it on at all times, as it didn't appear to create any side-effects, only benefits.

Staying with "Slumdog Millionaire", I was very pleased indeed with all aspects of the image. The 24p input from the BD player was handled correctly, without judder, and even with all of the room lights turned off, I was incredibly surprised at the black level and contrast ratio the LCD panel was managing to achieve. Many other LCD panels reveal patchiness, clouding, or purple-tinted blacks under these conditions, but the effect here was very convincing and unusually uniformly lit.

Verdict

The Good

  • Incredibly comprehensive menu options for maximum setup potential
  • Calibrated greyscale is suitably flat
  • Calibrated colour is absolutely stunning
  • Contrast ratio and black level are excellent for an LCD
  • Great design
  • Under-promoted Chroma Upsampling feature (part of "Enhancer") is fantastic
  • RS232C port for system integration in custom installs

The Bad

  • LCD panel's viewing angle can be problematic
  • Standard-def video processing could be better

JVC WX70 (LT-42WX70) LCD Monitor Review

Congratulations to JVC for building a solid display aimed at the high end and custom install market. The image we obtained after calibration was excellent, and a gigantic improvement on the out-of-the-box modes - all thanks to the level of control provided.

For these reasons, it saddens me a little to end an otherwise positive review by saying that I sometimes wished this display wasn't an LCD. My only real gripe with the screen is the somewhat limited viewing angle, a long-running LCD problem. Of course, even if JVC did produce flat panels of another type, let's not pretend that competing technologies are flawless, either. Also, we do need to remember that JVC have at least partly intended this display for use as a monitor for Digital SLR users, so it's likely that a lot of people will be viewing static images from a face-on position, where the issues won't really be apparent.

The amount of control given to users, calibrators, and system installers means that the LT-42WX70 can become an incredibly impressive display when correctly configured. It remains to be seen whether or not prospective buyers can tolerate the viewing angle issue imposed by the LCD panel module; but having made people aware of these, I still feel that it's worthy of a Recommended award thanks to the quality and accuracy of the pictures it puts out. Keep this level of quality and control going, JVC!

Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
9

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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