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JVC Plasma TV Review

Models: JVC PD-42V475PD and JVC PD-42WX84 (* See Note) Plasma Televisions
Descriptions: 42-inch EDTV Plasma Display / 42-inch HDTV Plasma Display
Resolutions: 853 x 480 (WVGA) / 1024 x 768 (WXGA)
Include: Separate set-top box receiver with built-in NTSC tuner, plasma TV stand, advanced "virtual surround" audio system with integrated subwoofer (36W total power), and universal remote control
Colors: Black lacquer frame with burnished aluminum base panel
Reviewer: William Becker
Date: May 2004

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INTRODUCTION

The JVC PD-42V475 is JVC's second-generation plasma display, their follow up to the phenomenally popular PD-42WV74. JVC has left well enough alone with their newest plasma television: The PD-42V475 inherits the inner workings and the outer stylings of its predecessor, the PD-42V475. One new addition is JVC's HD Range DSD (Digital Super Detail) High End Edge Correction Circuitry.

PICTURE: 95/100

As is so often the case, manufacturers ship their televisions "hot", meaning with their pictures tweaked to make a high-impact first impression. In this case, JVC boxed up the PD-42V475 with its picture (a k a VIDEO STATUS) set on DYNAMIC and its color temperature set to LOW, all of which certainly created an, excuse the cliché, eye-popping first impression. Which wasn't an altogether bad thing. It certainly convinced us of two things: The TV is bright, and its colors are intense. No, make that "can be": The display can be bright, and its colors can be intense.


The PD-42V475  JVC Plasma auditions "Master and Commander"

The JVC PD-42V475 performed well with "Master and Commander"

The funny thing about this JVC is that, once we started watching Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, we felt compelled to tone-down the picture a bit, not for practical reasons (like the unit's longevity) but for aesthetic ones. It just didn't seem right watching a Napoleonic era drama in what can only be described as full-out Technicolor. We wanted a more life-like presentation, which the PD-42V475 readily gave us, given a little tweaking on our parts. Once we had set the COLOR TEMPERATURE to LOW, set the VIDEO STATUS to STANDARD, and turned the PICTURE MANAGEMENT feature OFF, we felt much better about the image in front of us. Suffice it to say that the factory settings for this television struck us as being better suited for a slightly offbeat dramady like Lost In Translation than for a more staid film like Master and Commander.

(Note: I did enjoy watching Lost In Translation with the factory presets. The brilliant color schemes were well suited to the images of Tokyo's frenetic and colorful nightlife. It proved a nice foil to the more sober inner-lives of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson's characters. But I digress.)

The black levels on this set are better than adequate, enhanced, no doubt, by the extra-bright, extra-sharp picture. These weren't the blackest blacks I've seen on a plasma display, but they were far from the lightest ones I've seen. It handled the dark opening scenes of Master and Commander quite well. I actually preferred having the blacks toned-down a bit on this unit: Having the brightness set too high caused some stuff in particularly dark scenes to sort of get lost amidst the overwhelming blackness. JVC claims that the PD-42V475 has a contrast ratio of 3000:1, and this seems plausible at times, especially when the blacks start encroaching on the rest of the film material. In the end, I preferred the brightness at +5 (on a scale from -30 to 30). As for the contrast, I liked it set right in the middle-at 0-because that's where the whites in the test patterns seemed truest, neither grayish white nor "blooming" white. Everyone agreed, though, that the JVC's high contrast ratio (regardless of brightness setting) imparted a naturalness, almost a three-dimensionality to whatever it displayed.

Perhaps the biggest downside to plasma display technology has to do with "false contouring." A great deal of false contouring makes the picture look like a topographical map instead of a video image. This happens when colors that should flow naturally (read: gradually) between shades or brightnesses do so clumsily-i.e., in discrete, clearly defined bands. Master and Commander is one of the best tests of false contouring I have seen, simply because there are so many dark, foggy scenes in the movie. So, how did the JVC PD-42V475 stand up to this test? For the most part, pretty well. It was not altogether free from false contouring (cf., the foggy night scene just after the Surprise's first encounter with the Acheron).

Still, even when the JVC exhibited some color banding, the effect was minimal, more noticeable up close than at a proper viewing distance. False contouring comes with this technological territory, and the JVC display handled the problem about as well as I've seen plasmas handle it.

Perhaps the only quibble we had with the JVC's picture quality had to do with its green levels, which seemed slightly oversaturated to us. But this was only noticeable to us when we compared the JVC with a similarly sized Panasonic plasma. Sure, with the COLOR MANAGEMENT feature set at DYNAMIC, which boosts the unit's color saturation, you might detect a slightly green undertone in Russell Crowe's face in Master and Commander—as though he were on the verge of seasickness. But with the set's color schemes calibrated using a SEMPTE Color Bar pattern and blue filter, the greenish tilt to the picture is hardly noticeable-unless you're comparing it directly to another, perfectly calibrated TV set. In the final analysis, the JVC PD-42V475 overemphasizes the green phosphor in reproducing its images, but that's certainly better than the alternative-having to overcompensate for washed-out greens. I'll take the former option any day. You can always turn down the TINT setting, after all. (I did, to -10, and things looked just fine.)

The JVC has really good edge enhancement. It includes a fairly novel feature called "NATURAL CINEMA," which corrects the problem of blurred edges by compensating for conversion errors that occur when film, which is shot at 24 frames per second, is broadcast at a television rate of 30 frames per second. There is also the THEATERPRO D6500K function. It ensures that the video you see is set to the standard color temperature at which it was transferred, as determined by the film-to-video editors. Of course, it is difficult to judge just how well this feature works without a color analyzer, but it's somehow nice to know that JVC was thinking about such issues when designing this unit. Another plus for movie buffs is the 3:2 pulldown feature, which reassembles the frame sequence of your original film-based content from DVDs to more accurately reproduce the 24-frame-per-second material.

There is also as burn-in-image reducing function on the PD-42V475 . With any luck, you'll never get the chance to gage its utility. But, if you do, don't expect to be watching TV for a while: The manual advises one to leave "the television in this state for some time," adding, parenthetically, for "more than a few hours" (emphasis added).

OTHER COPNSIDERATIONS: 93/100

I have to admit, for a surround-sound kind of guy, I was truly impressed with the JVC's built-in sound system. It has 2 Direct Drive slim side speakers. The unit's "base" is actually a rather nice-sounding integrated subwoofer. In fact, it is the subwoofer that juts out in the back, adding about an inch the display's overall depth, which is still quite slender at 4.25". Built-in speakers are far from standard on plasma displays, and the ones that do have speaker usually sound, well, tinny because they lack a for-real bass channel. Well, JVC has, in my experience, set the gold standard for plasma audio with the PD-42V475 . Even my compatriots here in the office agreed: This TV can put out some serious sound, for a TV anyway. 36 watts worth, to be exact.

The JVC Plasma television Tuner Box

The JVC tuner box is attractive and whisper-quiet

The tuner that comes with the television runs almost silently. I like non-built-in tuners because they can actually make a plasma unit even more sleek and stylish by eliminating that mess of cord running every which way out of the back. When you have a separate tuner box, you can put all that mess somewhere out of the way-and out of sight. Of course, this is a matter of personal preference. In any event, this tuner presents a lot of options in the connectivity department. It comes with: (a) 4 Composite Video inputs, (b) 3 S-Video inputs, (c), 2 Component video inputs, and (d) a DVI, HDCP-enabled plug. You can also use this TV as a computer display, though you should be wary of burn-in.

I have to admit, for a surround-sound kind of guy, I was truly impressed with the JVC's built-in sound system. It has 2 Direct Drive slim side speakers. The unit's "base" is actually a rather nice-sounding integrated subwoofer. In fact, it is the subwoofer that juts out in the back, adding about an inch the display's overall depth, which is still quite slender at 4.25". Built-in speakers are far from standard on plasma displays, and the ones that do have speaker usually sound, well, tinny because they lack a for-real bass channel. Well, JVC has, in my experience, set the gold standard for plasma audio with the PD-42V475 . Even my compatriots here in the office agreed: This TV can put out some serious sound, for a TV anyway. 36 watts worth, to be exact.

JVC plasma TV input terminals

JVC plasma input terminals
JVC plasma TV input terminals

A special digital cable links
the tuner box and the TV

OVERALL VALUE: 96/100

OK, I'm gushing about the PD-42V475. I know. I just can't help it. This is as exciting a plasma set as I've come across in a long time. The colors are near spot-on (allowing just a little wiggle-room for the greens-no display is perfect). The sound is impressive. And the price is right. With an MSRP just under $5000, you can surely find this set on the street for under $4000, which is a lot of money, I know, just not for a 42" ED plasma monitor. The thing even comes with its own pedestal. Not bad.

* Note: The JVC PD-42WX84 is the high-resolution (1024 x 768) brother model of the PD-42V475 . It is the same in all respects except for the higher resolution, and I give it the same ratings as above. I took a long look at this plasma as well. It impressed me just the same. High definition broadcasts looked about 10% better, on average, than they looked on the PD-42V475 . XGA computer resolution was also much crisper, making text clearer and easier to read. Of course, all this comes at a price. The JVC PD-42WX84 is about $1000 more than its ED brother model.

OVERALL RATING (with picture double-weighted): 94.75/100*

With very few shortcomings, the PD-42V475 is one of the very best 42" plasmas available, well worth the MSRP. The fact that this unit has such good contrast ratio and black levels makes it very versatile, a prime candidate for use in a darkened home theater and/or in a regular living room with typical ambient light levels. This is the perhaps the best plasma display you can get for under $5000.

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.


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JVC 42" Plasma TV Customer Reviews



JVC PD42WV74 42" Plasma TV

-----CUSTOMER INFORMATION-----
Name: James Traverso
Location: Caldwell, NJ

-----PLASMA TV INFORMATION-----
Manufacturer: JVC
Model: PD42WV74

PICTURE:
The picture with a Progressive Scan DVD via the Component Video connections is the best way to see this set's rich and impressive picture. It is really outstanding. So much so that I chose this model over higher priced HDTV sets because I mostly watch regular (non HD) Dish Network and occasional DVD's, so it was a great value for me. On "regular TV" (which for me is Dish Network's 721 dual DVR connected via the S Video Jack.) The picture is very good. The biggest problem on regular TV (During "24" , and sometimes CSI, and "Law and Order") is that in certain dark scene's the picture is a bit too green. Peoples faces look a bit too green. I turned on 24 on another regular CRT TV in the house and it too was green, but not as pronounced as this Plasma - so "24" likes a green tint to the show. This is NOT the case on DVD's, but on poorer signals. With an "old" VCR signal via a composite connection, the picture is surprisingly good - about Equal to the dish! network signal. I have the brightness turned down to -5 and tint set to -5 , all the time. I find this to be the best. When I watch DVD's I turn up the brightness to 0 and find that is optimal. I have the auto color set to "normal". I see no motion artifacts and blacks are excellent. I watch the TV in "Panorama" aspect mode. Other settings I have settled on: Video Status = Standard (dynamic too bright, theater too grim), Natural Cinema = Auto, Dig Noise clear =low, Color Management = Standard (vivid is good for some DVD's , but mostly too much). I have had many 'enthusiast' friends over and they all walk out amazed at what I purchased for around $3500 all in. They just don't believe it.

INSTALLATION:
I have this display mounted on a wall in the family room via a sanus wall mount that has the ability to tilt slightly out. However, I have it flat against the wall with a sofa and recliners about 9 feet across the room. It is an ideal set up. I made a small hole behind the Plasma where the power and system cable run behind the wall and come out another hole on the wall right above the floor. The Cables are wrapped in a nice beige plastic cable wrap I purchase from FrontGate. The receiver is in a rack with my Denon Surround Sound, Panasonic 5 disk DVD, Dish Network DVR, VCR and TapeDeck(don't laugh I still have tapes too !). Underneath the TV , is an antique trunk and the room is decorated in a very traditional colonial fashion. Many people like the "new" and "old" look.

PLASMA FUNCTIONS:
The remote control is very good. However, I use 1 programmable remote (Harmony Remote) for everything so I don't use the remote very much. The Audio on this TV is outstanding. I have a wife who hates surround sound, so when she is watching something and I put on the internal subwoofer- its amazingly good. Its not surround sound, so I still use that every chance I get, but its far better than any tv (plasma or otherwise) that I have ever heard. Now that Sirius pumps their music through Dish Network- I use the TV's built in audio as a nice stereo radio in the room. Its really good. I love the separate connection and tuner box- it fits will in the rack and is easy to connect up. Overall this set is an amazing device for the money.

QUALITY RATING: 9.5





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