- Review Price: £1008.00
JVC’s current LCD range contains some of the most attractive TVs in town, with ultra-slender profiles, quality finishes and sumptuous retro styling. But the 37in LT-37DR7SJ is most definitely not one of those.
In fact, it’s hard to imagine how a TV could have been designed with less imagination. It really is just a flimsy, plasticky grey rectangle stuck unceremoniously around a common and garden bit of 37in LCD glass. No more, no less.
This can mean only one thing, of course: we’re in budget land. The 37DR7SJ is currently JVC’s most affordable 37in LCD TV, and so we guess we shouldn’t be too surprised to find build quality sacrificed in the name of cost-cutting. Having said that, companies like Samsung and LG seem able to produce similarly cheap LCD TVs that still manage to look cute, so maybe we shouldn’t be so forgiving of the 37DR7SJ’s blandness after all.
The extent to which JVC has compromised on this TV’s build quality immediately raises concerns about what other compromises it may have made to hit an entry-level price point. So it certainly comes as no shock to find just one HDMI input when we’re really starting these days to want – if not need – two. There are only two Scarts as well, though these can at least both handle RGB signals.
Thankfully JVC’s corner cutting exercises have not denied the 37DR7SJ a PC socket, though. Plus you get component jacks for your Xbox 360 along with, unexpectedly, a CI slot that immediately alerts you to the presence of a built-in digital tuner. It’s really pleasing to find that JVC has retained its penchant for a digital tuner even on its entry level 37in set – especially as it’s fully backed up by support for Freeview’s 7-day EPG. You can even use the EPG listings to directly set up to 10 recording events.
The sudden upturn in our feelings towards the 37DR7SJ started by the digital tuner continues with the discovery that the set also sports JVC’s generally well-received DynaPix HD image processing. Of course, pretty much any LCD TV worth its salt nowadays carries some sort of image processing engine. But DynaPix HD’s variety of tricks seems more sophisticated than most.
To give you a flavour of what we’re talking about, check out this list of just some of its elements: Frame rate conversion that adapts itself to any motion detected in the image; automatic colour management; MPEG noise reduction for reducing the blocking noise that can afflict many digital broadcasts; standard noise reduction; separate processing in three dimensions of the PAL Y/C signal elements; and last but certainly not least something called Digital Image Scaling Technology. DIST, as it’s known to its friends, used to be a standalone TV selling point all by itself, and its talent for adding sharpness and fine detail to pictures, especially standard definition ones, has long been respected.
When it comes to less complex but still interesting features, the 37DR7SJ has a single-tuner picture in picture facility, a handy backlight output adjustor, and a tool – dubbed Super Digipure – for automatically selecting the optimal contrast settings for the image at any given moment.
The last things we ought to briefly cover before heading into the 37DR7SJ’s performance are its key specifications. Which find commonplace manufacturer’s figures of 1,366 x 768 and 500cd/m2 for the native resolution and brightness output respectively, and a rather underwhelming claim of 800:1 for the contrast ratio.
Considering how relatively affordable it is, the 37DR7SJ’s picture really isn’t too shabby. Colours, for instance, make an immediate, almost visceral impact, combining as they do seriously full saturations with extreme vibrancy during full-on, colour-rich fodder like Ninety-Nine Nights on the Xbox 360 or (heaven help us) pretty much any scene from Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle…
What’s more, this unusually acute vibrancy – even by LCD’s typically aggressive standards – doesn’t seem forced. In other words, colour tones still generally look realistic, rather than slipping into the sort of cartoonishly OTT appearance that can make, say, Eastenders, look like the latest episode of Scooby-Doo.
The other great thing about the 37DR7SJ’s pictures is how superbly detailed they look. Every last pixel of texture and clarity is squeezed out of both a Sky HD feed of Spider-Man 2, and the miniaturised graphics of HD Xbox 360 title Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth.
Impressively, unlike disturbingly many LCD TVs, the 37DR7SJ’s sharpness isn’t restricted to high definition. DynaPix HD works near miracles in making standard definition sources crisper too – so long, at least, as those sources are of a decent quality in the first place.
We’re forced to add that last qualification for the simple reason that DynaPix can lose its way where a source is particularly grainy or fuzzy, causing smearing and image lag.
Now we’re into a negative vein of thought, perhaps the 37DR7SJ’s worst fault is that while its black levels can reach reasonably deep, there’s a blue undertone to black areas that can obscure some background details and make dark scenes look slightly unnatural.
Another issue you need to be aware of is that Super Digipure needs to be treated with kid gloves, since if you set it any higher than its Minimum level, it causes the picture to look unpleasantly gritty and noisy. In fact, we’d probably recommend that you deactivate the feature completely.
The 37DR7SJ’s sound is better than you might expect given the bodywork’s rather flimsy appearance. There’s certainly no sign of the audio pyrotechnics delivered by some of JVC’s current higher-end models, particularly when it comes to picking out the sort of treble details that can bring a good soundtrack to life. But it can nonetheless produce enough volume, bass and mid-range clarity to generally satisfy without the speakers distorting or the cabinet rattling.
The 37DR7SJ is a perfect example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. For while it might be no LCD classic, it’s certainly much more respectable than you’d guess from its bargain bucket exterior.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8
Sound Quality 8