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Also a relief to find is the TV’s 1080p/24Hz playback support, something that a few JVC’s we’ve looked at over the past year have notably failed to deliver.
A trawl through the 42DR9’s rather boringly presented onscreen menus uncovers a decent amount of user flexibility. Among the most handy adjustments are MPEG and standard noise reduction circuits, a backlight output slider, the option to turn the dynamic contrast system off if you find yourself distracted by the way it continually adjusts the image’s brightness, JVC’s DigiPure system for further boosting the picture’s contrast, and the facility to turn off the blue power light if you find it too distracting.
Accessing all these features – and more – isn’t quite as straightforward as we’d like it to be thanks to the slightly fiddly layout of the 42DR9’s remote control. This puts an outer circle of buttons rather too close to the main navigation ‘rocker’, with the result that during our tests we frequently found ourselves accidentally pressing the wrong button.
Probably the word that best sums up the 42DR9’s picture performance is ‘confusing’. For while at times images look genuinely rather wondrous, at others they look merely solid.
The ‘wonder stuff’ comes almost always when watching HD sources like 30 Days of Night on Blu-ray. With these sources, JVC’s DynaPix HD processing knows just when to intervene and just when to take a back seat and let a quality HD source speak for itself, resulting in HD images of a clarity, sharpness and purity that’s rare indeed in the LCD world. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that only Philips and possibly one or two Sony LCD TVs are currently able to produce the impressive HD picture quality from the 30 Days… transfer with so much, well, ‘HDness’. Outstanding.
In an ideal world the image’s sharpness would have been shifted up to an even higher gear by the inclusion on the TV of 100Hz processing or something similar, but JVC has understandably saved that for its higher-end DV8 product range. And it’s only during really quite rapid movement that the motion blurring is actually distracting.
The 42DR9 also excels with its colours, which enjoy a fullness of saturation and a vivid intensity that again only the best efforts of Philips and Sony can rival. Couple these glorious colours with the sharpness we mentioned, and you’ve got a picture capable of remarkable solidity and three-dimensionality. At least during bright scenes…