Surprisingly, the first brand to deliver a genuinely extra-thin LCD TV to the UK wasn’t Samsung, Philips, Panasonic or Sony, but JVC. Its 42in LT-42DS9 was just 34mm deep at its thinnest point, giving it an appearance that in spring 2008 was truly groundbreaking and seriously eye-catching.
The set also helped JVC earn some eco plaudits on account of its use of less raw materials than ‘fat’ LCD TVs, and its compact packaging. It’s hardly shocking, then, to find JVC putting together a revamped Super Slim TV for 2009, in the suitably skinny form of the LT-42DV1.
Better by design
The 42DV1 is markedly more attractive than its predecessor, shunning the glossy, plasticky finish of most flat TVs these days in favour of a very likeable tactile finish that looks and feels a bit like vinyl – and sits in appealing opposition to the desktop stand’s shiny silver.
The only disappointing thing about the 42DV1’s design is that at 30mm deep, it’s only marginally slimmer than last year’s model – meaning it no longer stands out from the crowd as clearly. Especially since a central section of the rear panel actually juts out to 69mm.
Happily the 42DV1 gets back in improvement mode with some of its other specifications. Particularly promising is a newly designed backlight arrangement, claimed to up the 42DV1’s contrast ratio to a huge 1,000,000:1 versus the puny 7500:1 of the 42DS9.
JVC has also added 100Hz processing to the 42DV1 to reduce the motion blur flaws of its predecessor, and enjoys a newer version of JVC’s DynaPix HD video processing.
The most headline-grabbing of the 42DV1’s new features, though, is its Handclap functionality. As its name suggests, this lets you control some of the TV’s features simply by clapping your hands. Three claps turns the TV on or off, while two mutes or unmutes the set’s audio.
This, though, is the sum total of what your hands can achieve. And the feature’s usefulness is further dented by the fact that if the TV detects too much extraneous noise – including racket from an action film you’re watching – a distracting warning icon pops up to tell you the Handclap feature might not work.
Actually, probably the best thing about the Handclap feature, aside from its momentary amusement value during dinner parties, is the fact that you can switch it off.
Nice try, but no cigar
The 42DV1 improves considerably on the 42DS9 with its pictures – though that’s not to say it joins the current TV picture elite.
The biggest improvement comes with the set’s motion handling, as we spotted only marginal blurring and smearing over even the fastest motion.
Colours are mostly excellent too, as rich saturations join with remarkably subtle and expressive tones, at least during bright scenes.
As with most of JVC’s DynaPix HD TVs, the 42DV1 also excels when it comes to revealing every last pixel of picture detail from an HD source, and adding remarkable amounts of detail and sharpness to standard definition pictures.
In fact, the 42DV1 only really struggles in one area, but it’s a biggie: black level response. For despite the new backlight system and extravagant 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio claims, the bottom line is that the 42DV1’s dark scenes are more affected by LCD’s dreaded grey mist effect than those of the best new screens from Sony, Philips, and Samsung.