SETUP Looking at the JVC, you might think it's a rear-projection DLP or LCD set. Its high-tech accents include a distinctive chrome semicircle directly below the screen that turns out to be the power button - the only control on the sleek front panel. An A/V input with S-video and all other controls are on the side, out of sight. Although the set has a base, it really needs to be put on a tabletop or TV stand so it's at eye level. (JVC sells a matching stand for $499.) Since it weighs only 84 pounds, setting it up can be a one-man job, though I'd imagine it would be much easier with two.
After you hit the power button, it takes about 20 seconds for a dim picture to appear and another 45 seconds for it to come up to full brightness. A fan runs while the set is on to cool the projection lamp, and it continues to run for about 1 1/2 minutes after the set is turned off. The fan is louder than many I've heard on other TVs, but not distracting. JVC rates lamp life as 6,000 hours, and a user-replaceable lamp costs $250.
When you power up the TV for the first time, an Interactive Plug In Menu appears that lets you select channel-scan options and set things like menu language and the clock. Setup was easy once I got used to the low-tech menu design.
The JVC has an HDMI input, which carries both digital audio and video on a single connector. To hook up DVI sources like my Bravo D1 DVD player, I used a DVI-to-HDMI converter cable. For the A/V 1 input, I had to choose either component-video or composite/S-video, which limits the set's total number of usable inputs. There's no integrated HDTV tuner or CableCARD slot, so if you want to watch high-definition TV, you'll need a separate high-def-capable satellite, cable, or over-the-air tuner box.
I liked the remote even though its buttons are small and sometimes strangely placed (the Closed Caption button is more prominent than it needs to be). But it has a couple of great features, including a separate button for each input, which makes switching between sources a snap. I also appreciated the blue backlighting, which you turn on by tapping the glow-in-the-dark Light button. The Multi Screen controls at the top of the remote let me watch two channels or sources simultaneously on split screens - except for two component-video sources or any video connected to the HDMI input.
During my initial picture adjustments, I was able to set up each input individually, choosing from a set of four presets: Standard, Dynamic, Theater, and Game. I appreciated the JVC's ability to switch between three different aspect ratios with high-def sources, including Normal, HD Panorama (which preserves the center and stretches the sides), and Cinema Zoom (which stretches the entire picture and crops the height). Standard-def sources allowed me five choices.
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