JVC BC50R LED TV Review
The Black Crystal series sounds more exciting than it is.
At a Glance
Hailing from Japan, the 50-inch Black Crystal BC50R by JVC adds yet more weight to the TV market's pudgy, chubby midsection. Picture purists won't fall for this LED 1080p display, but bargain hunters will definitely be tempted.
The BC50R generally retails for around $700, but big box stores bring that number down. While performance has its fair share of ups and downs, one thing is clear: From picture quality, to features, to design, this JVC TV isn't anything special. For streaming, apps, 3D tech, and top-tier performance, look elsewhere.
We were promised black crystals.
Black Crystal. That sounds far more thrilling than it actually is. JVC has made some wild televisions in the past—check out this 70s Videosphere—but the BC50R is a real bore: black rectangle on top, black rectangle below—end design scheme. Narrow bezels do contribute to a clean, minimal shape, but aesthetics are otherwise entirely unremarkable.
Connectivity is generous enough, offering three HDMI hooks, shared component/composite connections, a headphone audio out, a digital optical port, an antenna hookup, and one USB port. Connections are all easy enough to reach and on-set TV controls are located on the same left side, in case you misplace the remote. As for the remote itself, the design is as basic as they come, with stubborn, sticky buttons and nothing interesting at all.
Bare-boned budget buy
Typically, saving money means missing features—and that's precisely the case with the JVC BC50R. This feature set is skin and bones. Don't expect 3D tech, apps, streaming, or a fancy remote for a $700 50-inch TV. Other than the USB port for photo playback, you just won't find much.
Basic picture settings allow you to tamper with color, tint, brightness, sharpness, temperature, and contrast—but that's inadvisable. Simply put the TV on Cinema mode and disable the silly extras. In my experience, moving the settings around just made things worse; out of the box, this TV appears to be as good as it gets.
The menu is not entirely without extras. Local dimming is available, for instance; this feature means that sections of lamps can be controlled autonomously. Some lights can be on while others are off, to achieve deeper dark levels. Yet on this TV, the effects of local dimming are barely noticeable. For a punchier, more vibrant picture (if that's your thing), JVC also offers CrystalColor and dynamic contrast settings. Surround sound is available too, which considerably improves this TV's audio.
Don't expect performance to knock your socks off.
This JVC boasts a sizable contrast ratio, with very deep darks and very bright whites. This is a huge plus, because to build convincing, lifelike images, a television needs a robust grayscale. Deep dark levels are necessary to render realistic contours and areas of shadow; meanwhile, a peak bright level contributes similar functionality and also offers the added benefit of portraying content clearly, even in very sunlit rooms.
The next area of performance presents less happy tidings: The BC50R chokes a bit when it comes to color. Reds appear more or less as they should, but greens are too vivid. Blue is the worst of the batch, oversaturated so grossly that scenes appear very unnatural, at times.
Motion doesn't earn this TV any gold stars, either. Onscreen movement frequently suffers from blurring. During regular cable viewing, the effect isn't very bad, but in movies or documentaries when a camera pans, the blurring can be very distracting.
To buy, or not to buy?
Everyone loves a solid budget buy, but unless you find a big sale on this JVC, I say pass. For 700 some odd dollars, buyers shouldn't put up with humdrum color and lackluster motion performance.
If savings are the focus and you aren't a picture purist, a clearance may help this TV's cause—but be sure to browse the competition, all the same. For a budget model, the BC50R has very competitive contrast, ample connectivity, and 50 inches of panel. Just don't expect anything special in terms of overall performance.
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