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JVC Fire TV Edition review: This affordable 4K HDR Alexa TV is even cheaper

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
300
inc VAT

JVC’s Fire TV Edition isn’t going to set the 4K HDR world alight, but it’s a basic, easy-to-use TV at a reasonable price

Pros 
Cheap
Easy to use
Alexa support
Cons 
Poor motion handling
Interface can be sluggish
Colours lack vibrance in HDR mode
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Get the 50in JVC Fire TV for just £269

As you can read below, this Fire TV is a likeable TV for its price, and even more so at this price. The Fire TV interface makes things wonderfully easy to use and at £269 for the 50in model, it's a solid all-in-one option for everyday TV and streaming.
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Was £349
Now £269

If you’ve ever wondered what might happen if someone combined an affordable TV with one of Amazon’s Fire TV streaming boxes, then the wait is over: JVC’s Fire TV Edition is here to make your dreams come true.

With a price that puts it deep into budget territory and niceties such as Dolby Vision on the spec sheet, this looks like a very promising budget TV package. The question, as ever, is whether it can deliver the goods.

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JVC Fire TV Edition review: What you need to know

The JVC Fire TV Edition is exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a JVC-branded TV which runs on Amazon’s Fire TV operating system. You get that familiar Fire TV interface, a super-simple setup process, and the ability to press a button on the remote and chat to Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. All for the princely sum of around £300.

The TV comes in three sizes – 40in, 49in and 55in – and all three have support for the HLG, HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats. That means you should be able to enjoy streaming HDR content from any of the main providers, with the added bonus that you’ll get the best results on any streaming service with Dolby Vision support, which currently includes Disney+ and Netflix.

The presence of Dolby Vision is particularly good news for a budget model. ‘Dynamic’ HDR formats such as Dolby Vision are capable of adapting to the limitations of low-end 4K TVs, whereas ‘static’ HDR formats such as HLG and HDR10 rely more heavily on a TV’s natural talents. At this price, those talents are routinely in short supply.

JVC Fire TV Edition review: Key specifications

Screen sizes available40in LT-40CF890
49in LT-49CF890
55in LT-55CF890
Streaming services supportedNetflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+, BBC iPlayer (HDR supported)
HDR formats supportedDolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
Wireless connectivity802.11ac, Bluetooth 5
Panel type & backlight4K IPS (60Hz), LED-backlit
HDMI inputs4 x HDMI 2.0b (4 at rear)

JVC Fire TV Edition review: Price and competition

With prices starting around £300 for the 40in model and topping out around £480 for the 55in model, the JVC Fire TV Edition is pretty affordable by 4K HDR TV standards.

The only other brand name 4K TVs which we’ve tested in this ultra-cheap price point have come from Hisense. We haven’t yet seen the most recent models from the brand, but it’s worth mentioning the £329 Hisense H43AE6100UK which we reviewed back in November 2018. This 43in model struggled to get bright enough to remain watchable in brighter rooms, and with no support for dynamic HDR formats and a sub-par backlight, HDR content was unwatchably dim. As a cheap, basic TV for 4K SDR content, though, it was reasonably good value at the time.

Fast forward to now, and the JVC Fire TV Edition is dramatically more capable. So much so, in fact, that it’s actually closer in performance to the LG UM7400 (which we reviewed in August 2019). The LG currently retails at around £329 for the 43in version, so it’s in the same ball park, price-wise. In terms of overall brightness, the JVC performs very similarly to the LG, but drops behind on HDR performance and has poor motion handling. If you want reasonable quality HDR on the cheap the LG UM7400 is a far better bet but if you can find the JVC going cheap then it may still be worth considering as a bedroom or second-room TV.

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JVC Fire TV Edition review: Ease of use

Turn on the JVC and you’re faced with a simple, friendly user interface; one you’ll be very familiar with if you’ve ever used one of Amazon’s Fire TV devices. After selecting your Wi-Fi network and tapping in your Amazon account details, the setup process runs you quickly through essentials such as scanning for terrestrial TV channels (if you plan on connecting a TV aerial to the JVC) and pre-selecting the streaming services you wish to install apps for.

Most of the main streaming services are ready and waiting, but Now TV is notably absent. If you’re dead set on using Sky’s service then bear in mind that you’ll need to buy one of Now TV’s dedicated streaming boxes or sticks, or stump up for one of Roku’s range of streaming devices.

Once you’re into the Fire TV interface proper, you’re faced with a familiar set of tiles offering apps, recently watched programmes and suggestions of things you might want to watch. In addition to the usual suspects, you’ll also notice tiles for the TV’s various HDMI inputs and terrestrial TV tuner. These inputs are treated just like apps or watched programmes, so if you regularly use the HDMI 4 port, for instance, then that gets pole position in your recently watched list.

The remote control is a small, simple plasticky affair; essentially it’s one of Amazon’s Fire TV remotes with a few extra buttons tacked on. Indeed, the lack of buttons may be a refreshing change for many users – or indeed for kids who just want their fix of Paw Patrol.

Four white shortcut buttons towards the bottom give quick access to Prime Video, Netflix, Live TV and the Apps screen, so it’s easy to bounce between all the different sources. And the directional pad and central button make light work of navigating through the various menus and apps.

If, however, you prefer voice control, then you can hold the microphone button on the top of the remote and chat to Alexa. As most of the major streaming apps have Alexa integration, you can use voice search to find programmes rather than laboriously tapping in searches letter by letter. In fact, the Alexa integration really does work rather nicely in tandem with the king-sized display – in some ways it’s rather like a giant Echo Show (read our review here). Whether you want to quickly shop for some essentials without picking up your smartphone, quiz Alexa for some useful facts, or just demand to watch Jason Statham movies, it’s a genuinely useful addition.

In terms of usability, the Fire TV interface does a lot right, but the JVC’s processor does struggle to keep it running smoothly. It’s mostly fluid enough to remain usable without getting annoying, but there are noticeable and fairly regular hitches and pauses as the TV’s processor struggles to keep up – so don’t expect the same slick Fire TV experience you get from Amazon’s own streaming devices. The limited 4GB of internal storage also means that you won’t be able to install too many apps before running out of space, and you may need to add more storage in the form of a USB thumb drive or similar before too long.

One final word of warning for parents: it’s well worth locking down Alexa’s voice purchasing options if you want to prevent your kids doing some impromptu shopping for you. While the standard parental controls allow you to add a PIN code to prevent users from playing Prime Video content, accessing broadcast TV or purchasing digital content or items direct from the Amazon shopping app, they don’t apply to voice purchasing so you’ll need to head on over to alexa.amazon.co.uk if you want to avoid surprise deliveries.

JVC Fire TV Edition review: Performance

As the JVC employs a VA-type LCD panel, it has a familiar set of pros and cons. Viewed head-on, it supplies a surprisingly vivid, high-contrast image. Move even slightly away from head-on, however, and the contrast and colours fade away rapidly; the viewing angles are narrow at best. As a result, wall-mounting it above eye-level is a no-no, and you’ll want to be seated directly in front wherever possible, which may be awkward in many living rooms.

At this price it’s no surprise to find that the JVC uses standard edge-lit LCD backlighting. It serves up a decent amount of brightness, enough to remain watchable even in brighter rooms, but it’s disappointing to find that the backlighting isn’t very even. In darker scenes it’s possible to see blooming around the edges where the backlight bleeds through too readily, and there’s also some dirty screen effect visible with striping and blotchiness visible on dark grey backgrounds.

The JVC fared a little better than expected in our testing. In SDR mode, its default Standard picture preset puts out a maximum brightness of around 369cd/m² and achieves a very respectable contrast ratio of 5,329:1 even with all the contrast– and colour-enhancing features turned off. Fire up HDR mode, and peak brightness increases to 400cd/m² while contrast remains high at 5,358:1.

In terms of absolute colour accuracy, though, the Standard picture preset needs some tweaking. The overall colour balance is very cold and bluish out of the box, so we’d recommend either switching the colour temperature to its Warm setting in the Picture menu or just switching to the default Film preset. Do that, and the overall colour accuracy improves dramatically: the average Delta E drops from 6.42 to 3.55, which is pretty respectable. Brightness drops a little, but both HDR and SDR content benefits hugely from the change, and skintones and colours look far more natural as a result.

Those colours aren’t as intense as they should be in HDR mode, though, so don’t expect the kind of eye-popping colour which you get from pricier sets – the JVC covers a mere 70% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, which is far less than even many mid-range TVs. By the same metric, even LG’s affordable UM7400 managed to cover 82% of DCI-P3.

If you want to see the JVC at its best, however, then fire up Netflix and seek out some Dolby Vision 4K content. You can all but forget about the glorious, eye-popping spectacle of pricier TVs, but dim the lights and toggle the Dolby Vision Dark profile on, and you’re rewarded with a pretty watchable picture. There’s oodles of detail on offer, and just enough brightness to give images a decent amount of pop and excitement. The JVC’s modest backlighting means that it does struggle with HDR content in brighter rooms, and here the Dolby Vision Bright profile lends a helping hand to make sure things don’t end up looking too dim, even if shadow detail does end up looking washed out in the process.

It’s a shame, then, that Dolby Vision content in the Disney+ app suffered from some horrible juddering during our testing. Netflix was seemingly unaffected but watching content via Disney’s streaming service was blighted with hitches and jerks throughout. Once you notice it, it’s very distracting. Hopefully this is something which can be ironed out with a future software update.

The biggest issues with the JVC, however, are that it struggles with both motion and upscaling – two key performance elements of any self-respecting 4K TV. I didn’t expect much given the 60Hz refresh rate, but the panel’s slow response time is painfully obvious. It’s not too noticeable in brighter scenes, but detail and colours are smudged by horrible blur in darker moments. Similarly, while images look crisp in 4K when the camera is moving slowly, fast action and sports shows up the panel’s limitations, with detail becoming flattened and indistinct.

The JVC’s upscaling talents are decidedly lacking, too. Flick to terrestrial TV or standard Full HD content, and the JVC struggles to effectively upscale to the native 4K resolution. Images look soft, smeary and lacking in detail, and this combines with the poor motion handling to make for some very unimpressive results. Games suffer particularly badly, and while fast-moving games in 4K don’t look too bad, dropping the resolution to 1080p results in a smeary-looking mess. If you’re looking for a cheap TV for console gaming, steer clear.

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JVC Fire TV Edition: Verdict

Despite all its flaws, the JVC isn’t irredeemably bad. The Fire TV interface is very likeable despite its more sluggish moments, and being able to tell Alexa what you want to watch is a big plus. It’s all wonderfully easy to use, too, and the one-box simplicity may prove a big selling point to some buyers.

The poor motion handling and upscaling will rightfully knock it off many people’s wish lists, but for watching everyday TV and streaming services, it’s passable. If you find it at a good discount, then you may be willing to forgive its flaws – and you might even find yourself pleasantly surprised at what you do get for the money.

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