Once tweaked, the NVU52DCM was free of the hyped-looking color that mars so many HDTVs. Whites were bright without noticeable tint, greens and especially reds looked unusually natural, and blues were vivid. This TV easily revealed the quality of the source signal. As I watched a well-shot episode of Dr. Danger on the Mojo HD channel, in which Dr. Bob Arnot traipsed around the African tundra with some colorfully costumed hunters, the lushness of the varied greenery was striking, as were the bright red and vibrant blue wraps worn by the locals. The screen's 1080p resolution was sharp, and I was taken by the beautiful blue sky behind Dr. Bob's bush plane, and by the sheen of the sun striking the metal bullet-cap at the center of the plane's prop. On many HDTVs, these details would scream at you in a punched-up, look-at-me way, but here they were reproduced naturally and were well integrated with the rest of the picture.
Like most small manufacturers, NuVision gets LCD panels from one of the major TV suppliers. But it's the extra engineering here and the final tuning that separates the NVU52DCM from your run-of-the-mill LCD. The TV performed remarkably well with test patterns (see "Test Bench") and displayed deep-black levels and a well-balanced contrast range that were excellent for an LCD. But I did have to play with the brightness (black-level) control often on different program material to find the right balance between deep blacks and shadow detail. The TV looked better overall at its default brightness setting, which delivered a punchy, contrasty picture but crushed the shadows somewhat. Using an industry-standard test pattern to properly set brightness resulted in good shadow detail but a more washed-out picture, so I ended up with a compromise position.
That setting proved effective for the dark submarine interiors on the Blu-ray Disc of Crimson Tide. In a scene where Lt. Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) is briefing the crew on a possibly imminent nuclear war, the camera sweeps along the shadowed backs of the sailors, and the NuVision nicely revealed the stripes and rumples in the dark fabric of their shirts. And there was good gradation of different skin tones as the camera tightened on their faces. I was also impressed by the color in a scene with Captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) and his little Jack Russell terrier, whose fur (and urine stream!) looked unmistakably natural.
The NuVision did a good job of upscaling high-quality standard-def signals from DVDs. But it didn't do as well in suppressing mosquito noise on poor DVD transfers or on standard-def cable broadcasts, or even on some less-than-stellar HD broadcasts. Its menu options for 3-D noise-reduction and MPEG noise-reduction provided only modest relief, and at the expense of a bit of detail. On the other hand, the built-in stereo sound system, which uses SRS TruSurround processing to widen the soundstage and clarify dialogue, is about the best I've heard from any flat-panel TV. It won't replace a dedicated sound system, but it's fine for day-to-day use.
At $4,199 (without a stand), NuVision's Lucidium NVU52DCM isn't the cheapest 52-inch LCD around. But attention to detail and crafty tuning of the set has resulted in an impressive, natural-looking picture. Throw in sleek styling and some installer-friendly features, and you've got a well-engineered, well-built LCD. As I said last summer when I reviewed the company's rear-projection set, NuVision is one to watch.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.