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Toshiba 37XV505D Operation
On-Screen User Menu
The OSD of the Toshiba 37XV505D holds no surprises – it’s Toshiba’s standard design, which means that it’s clean and pretty functional. It appears over the middle of the video, so you’ll need to look around it to see the results of your tweaking. If you’re going to be tweaking extensively, it might be worth mentioning that the OSD isn’t too large, so each page doesn’t hold many options on-screen at once. Having to scroll around isn’t an issue though, because it’s very responsive.
The Picture menu is split into two parts, the first of which contains more advanced processing functions, which I’ll discuss later. Firstly, the “Picture Settings” sub-menu on the Toshiba 37XV505D 1080p LCD HDTV reveals more traditional adjustments. The first of these selects the "Picture Mode", the available options being Standard, Mild, Movie, Game, PC, and Dynamic. Each one of these comes preconfigured to impose its own adjustments to the video ("Dynamic" will scorch your retinas with a glaring blue-tinted picture, for example, while "PC" and "Movie" are more subdued). Even when all configured with the same numerical settings, there are differences between the modes: "Movie" and "Mild", for example, under-saturate colours in comparison to the other modes.
Making adjustments to one of these modes will rename them, appending "-User" after the name (so "Movie" becomes "Movie-User"). Since none of these presets are near optimal, Toshiba supplies control over the Backlight (to adjust the panel’s light output level), as well as standard settings for Brightness, Contrast, Colour, and Tint (which works on all signal types, rather than just NTSC). There’s also control over Sharpness (which should be set all the way back to -50), an option called "Black/White Level" which is a gamma adjustment to bring details out of dark areas, and Cinema Mode, which lets the user turn the Film Cadence Detection On (for getting maximum detail from Interlaced movies) or Off (should the On feature introduce combing in Video content, which it occasionally did).
Control is also given over the Colour Temperature (Greyscale). Toshiba’s presets here include “Cool”, the ironically named “Natural”, and “Warm”. All of these three profiles can be used as a base for further tweaking of the Red, Green and Blue levels. This is also a very nice touch, as some displays require you to delve into hidden menus to tweak this.
Going back up a level to the advanced options, there’s a toggle for “3D Colour Management”, and the below “Base colour adjustment”, which allows for control of the above and lets the user adjust the Hue, Saturation and Brightness of both primary and secondary colours. This is excellent and makes it much easier to fine-tune the TV’s colour reproduction.
Meanwhile, “Active Backlight Control” dims or brightens the screen brightness in order to achieve superior contrast, and “Auto Contrast” does the same thing as well as applying changes to the video signal itself, before it reaches the panel.
The last two options are related to Noise Reduction. “MPEG NR” has Low, Middle, High and Off settings, and attempts to remove Block and Mosquito Noise artefacts (which we’re all too used to on Digital TV) by cutting off the highest frequencies in the image. This can, in fact, work quite effectively, because Digital TV broadcasts are pre-filtered to remove the highest frequencies in the first place, meaning that conservative use of the MPEG NR filter can remove MPEG compression artefacts without killing off too much actual detail. The last setting is simply labelled “DNR” and is a temporal filter which is effective at removing analogue style moving noise. Most BBC programming, for example, is riddled with this problem (see BBC News 24’s studio shots). Ideally this would be eradicated in the broadcast chain to start with, but the DNR setting is effective at making the best of a bad situation.
The remote control has a dedicated button which allows the user to switch between the numerous aspect ratio options (such as Wide, 14:9, 4:3, and a variety of different distortion modes). There's also an option here to select "Native", which disables overscan, which is an excellent feature - but remember, 480i/p and 576i/p standard definition sources are inherently 4:3, and will display as such, even if the programme is designed to be viewed as widescreen. Sadly, there's no option to watch in the correct aspect ratio without overscanning for standard-def widescreen programmes, but that's a minor complaint.
There's also an option called "Exact Scan" which appears in this menu when a 1080i or 1080p source is input. Irritatingly, while using a Blu-ray Disc player (well, a Playstation 3, actually) outputting 1080p to the TV, I found that the "Exact Scan" mode would need to be re-activated if another resolution was input to the television. For example, one BD featured bonus features which were stored in Standard-def 480p. After returning to the 1080p film after the bonus feature had finished, the LCD TV had reverted to the "Wide" mode (which overscans), and I had to select "Exact Scan" all over again.
The sound menu brings adjustments to Bass, Treble, Balance, Headphone volume level, “Stable Sound” (which normalises volume level), a Bass boost (which made things a little more pleasant), and a separate “WOW” menu which allows for adjustment of proprietary technologies licensed from SRS: SRS 3D, FOCUS, and TruBass.
None of these options do much to combat the fact that these are, at the end of the day, television speakers. They do, however, make things sound slightly more pleasant to listen to and are serviceable for light TV viewing. If you plan on watching movies or playing games, you’d do well to add a separate sound system.
Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)
When I looked at Toshiba’s budget LCD offerings last year, one of my least favourite areas was the usability of its Digital TV tuner. From memory, the same design is used here. Although it’s by no means intolerable, the EPG isn’t the most friendly for hardened channel surfers, chiefly due to the fact that it doesn’t respond to user input quite as quickly as the other TV menus.
Pressing the “TV/FAV/RADIO” button on the remote filters the EPG view to show only TV channels, only radio channels, or all. A “Programmes” menu, accessed by pressing MENU while watching Digital TV, allows you to rename, delete, and reorder channels.
Toshiba 37XV505D’s bundled remote control is black, lightweight and thin. It doesn’t give off a solid feel, and the buttons don’t recess very deeply, meaning that firmer presses are occasionally required. That said, it’s laid out well, with buttons to control Volume, Channel and Aspect Ratio, and a handy input select button all easily reachable.
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