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As I began unpacking and setting up JVC’s LT-32WX50 LCD screen, a rather sobering thought occurred to me. Namely, that this was the first screen I’d managed to get in for review from once-prolific brand JVC since July last year.
What’s even more sobering about this fact is that the lack of JVC screens isn’t merely down to some sleepiness in the company’s marketing department, or me just not chasing new JVC screens down.
The simple fact of the matter is that the 32WX50 is the only new screen JVC has launched in the UK since last summer. This surely speaks volumes about just how much JVC has suffered during the recession.
What’s more, the 32WX50’s product focus in some ways reinforces this sense of JVC’s current woes. Not because it’s rubbish (though it’s certainly no classic), but simply because of what it is: a 32in LCD screen costing the frankly extraordinary amount of £2,500.
Once your eyes have stopped watering, you’ll probably realise that its price means the 32WX50 is not likely to be finding shelf space down at your local Comet or Currys any time soon. And this is actually the key point about the 32WX50. For JVC has boldy/desperately taken the decision to shift its screen business in one fell swoop from the relatively cheap end of the mass market to the pricey stratosphere of the niche custom installation market.
In some ways, this isn’t quite the crackpot idea it might initially appear. After all, JVC already has a hand ‘in’ with custom install folk courtesy of its excellent D-ILA front projectors. What’s more, there’s actually quite a gap in the market for a top premium TV designed with custom installation in mind; rival installation models are generally focussed on kitchen or bathroom situations.
Finally, of course, targeting a premium market allows JVC to build a little margin into its screen business - something that it clearly believes it can’t achieve by embroiling itself among the current carnage of the mass TV market.
The catch, of course, is that if you’re going to charge so much for a 32in screen and target such a premium customer, you really need to have one heck of a product. And much as I might wish that JVC had managed to pull this part of the deal off, sadly it hasn’t.
Not that any problems are obvious from the 32WX50’s exterior. The screen enjoys precisely the sort of jaw-dropping design chutzpah that a truly premium product needs these days. It’s finished, for instance, in a wonderfully cold, gorgeously clinical and terrifically robust sheet of dark grey aluminium.
It also makes a point of showing you that it takes its sound duties seriously, by including a separate speaker ‘bar’ that attaches simply and elegantly along the bottom edge of the aluminium bezel.
There’s a fabulously robust and minimalist table-top stand available too, in the unlikely event that you don’t want to wall mount the screen. But somehow, I think you will want to wall mount it. For easily the most startling aspect of the 32WX50’s design is its sub-7mm depth. In other words, turn the 32WX50 side on, and for the majority of its height it’s roughly the same depth as a pencil.
This really is a remarkable achievement for JVC, and one that reminds you with a jolt that JVC can still produce cutting-edge stuff, however impoverished its current situation.