Sadly, in keeping with many JVC LCD TVs before it, the 42DR9 doesn’t particularly excel with its black levels. You can just about keep a lid on the common grey mist effect over the near-permanent night skies of our 30 Days of Night test disc if you rein in the TV’s backlight setting and leave the Dynamic Backlight option set to on. But with these settings enabled you then get into a situation where dark parts of the picture lack shadow detail. To be fair the 42DR9’s black levels really aren’t actually bad; it’s just that the strengths in other areas during HD viewing are so intense that this solitary less-than-awesome element stands out.
Another issue that helps keep the 42DR9’s pictures down to an ‘8’ grade rather than anything higher is its standard definition performance. For while the DynaPix processing does help standard def sources look noticeably sharper than they’d look without it, it also has a slightly strange effect on skin tones, making them rather plasticky and, in Alan Titchmarsh’s case at least, disturbingly orange…
There’s a tendency for motion blur to be slightly more obvious with standard definition too, and standard def images can look a bit noisy – though you can tame this latter issue at the expense of a little more softness by calling in the TV’s MPEG NR mode.
The 42DR9’s MaxxBass audio system, meanwhile, helps it produce an audio performance that really belies the speakers’ apparently diminutive size, especially when it comes to the amount of bass in the mix. Vocals are always clear and believable too, with the bass never becoming overbearing, and there’s an excellent amount of detail in the soundstage during, for instance, any of the many 30 Days scenes where a posse of vampires encircle and attack another hapless bit of human lunch.
If I were to be really finicky, I’d say that there’s a fractionally ‘electronic’ feel to some treble information. But overall the 42DR9BJ’s audio results are really quite impressive.
Essentially the 42DR9 gives you the same sort of audio and video performance as JVC’s impressive ‘Super Slim’ 42DS9, without the sumptuous ultra-skinny bodywork – and saves you a couple of hundred pounds or so on the slim model’s price. Which is absolutely fine, of course. But for me personally, without the extra draw of the slim chassis design, the 42DR9 doesn’t quite stand out from the crowd enough to bag itself one of those all-important TrustedReviews Recommended badges…