When I flipped to a standard-def broadcast, I immediately noted a pincushion effect that I hadn't seen with widescreen programs. The gray bars to either side of the 4:3 image bowed inward halfway up the screen, as though the picture was being pinched at its midpoint. This is an effect of the TV's lens and can't be corrected through adjustments.
On the other hand, whether I was watching 4:3 or widescreen material, the HD-61Z886's individual pixels were all but invisible compared with those of 720p DLP or, especially, LCD TVs - a great benefit for people (including me) who like to sit close. The set's viewing angle is also very wide, so people sitting on the far sides of the couch can expect the same picture quality as someone sitting in the center.
BOTTOM LINE If you've been looking for the brightest RPTV on the market, look no further. With its contrast control maxed-out, the JVC could give you a tan watching the winter Olympics. People who spend a good deal of time viewing movies in darkened rooms will probably prefer DLP and even LCD RPTVs, which can deliver darker blacks and more realistic shadow detail. But for sports fans who fill their weekends watching daytime games in bright sunlit rooms, JVC's HD-61Z886 is pretty hard to beat.
|In the Lab|
|Color temperature (Warm color temperature and Theater Pro mode before/after calibration)
Low window (20-IRE) 7,689/6,609 K
High window (80-IRE) 7,922/6,469 K
|Brightness (100-IRE window before/after calibration) 50.1/45.1 ftL|
Selecting the Theater Pro mode engages the JVC's Low color-temperature setting, which nonetheless results in a picture that exhibited a relatively high color temperature. After calibration, its grayscale improved, varying by an average of 67° from one end of the scale to the other. (Calibration needs to be performed by a qualified technician, so discuss it with your dealer before purchase, or call the Imaging Science Foundation at 561-997-9073.)
Peak brightness before calibration was a relatively low 50.1 ftL because the HDMI input defaults to a low contrast setting. I measured a blazing 125 ftL with contrast at maximum, which still did not cause a loss of detail in whites. High-def and standard-def color decoding were good for red and significantly off for green (-15%), which was occasionally apparent in program material. Test patterns revealed that the JVC couldn't resolve every line of a 720p image regardless of input, but that's not uncommon in 720p RPTVs. The image was sharper using the HDMI input, and sharper yet using the FireWire input.
Geometry was marred by a pincushion effect with nonwidescreen programs, and red and green fringing was visible on convergence test patterns. Black-level retention was poor - blacks became brighter when other areas of the picture increased in brightness. - D.K.
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