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Toshiba 40ZF355D Image Quality

by David Mackenzie
11 June 2008

High Definition (Blu-Ray)

Sweeney Todd

With the SPVA panel crying out for a chance to strut its stuff and show some deep blacks, it was time to feed Warner's UK Blu-ray release of the suitably dark Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the Toshiba 40ZF355D LCD television. This film is a true reminder of why it's worthwhile to buy a HDTV fitted with a high quality LCD panel, as the film's dark atmosphere was kept intact thanks to the impressive performance.

Sweeney Todd

Even under the most difficult lighting conditions (such as in a pitch-black room, where even the best LCDs begin to look less impressive), the blacks were, at worst, grey, rather than becoming tinted blue/purple as is often the case on lesser LCDs. Needless to say, this excellent video transfer had none of its detail obscured or spoiled thanks to the Toshiba 40ZF355D's non-aggressive video processing and 1:1 mapping option.

Ratatouille

Brighter material fared wonderfully, too: Disney's Ratatouille burst with detail, and the calibrated greyscale was instrumental in allowing the Parisian kitchen scenes to retain their intended warmth, rather than being rendered eye-wateringly bright and blue-tinted, as would be the case with almost any TV's default settings.

Ratatouille

Of course, it didn't hurt that the panel in our individual Toshiba 40ZF355D review sample was completely even, either. Unlike other SPVA-based LCDs, tones were incredibly consistent across the surface of the display.

It's worth mentioning here how the Toshiba 40ZF355D LCD HDTV's 100hz feature affects film playback. With this option enabled, the interpolated frames did not significantly distract from the intended appearance of the film, but we preferred to leave the option off for maximum authenticity. With the mode enabled, the interpolation accuracy was leaps and bounds ahead of some other top-tier name manufacturers. If the [Active Vision M100] feature was enabled, the [Film Stabilization] setting is unlocked, and allows people who don't enjoy the natural appearance of films to watch them with a video-like smoothness applied. Again, Toshiba's implementation of this is much, much better than several other 100hz displays we've seen lately: the actors still looked as if they were moving plausibly, rather than morphing from position to position as they do on some other displays. However, as admirers of film and its look, we left these options off.

Standard Definition (Freeview Digital Television)

As usual, viewing standard definition digital TV on a large, high-resolution screen becomes a case of how a television's video processor can prevent it from looking any worse than it should, rather than how accurately it can reproduce a flawed broadcast. The Toshiba 40ZF355D LCD HDTV again did a fantastic job here, with its capable video processing smoothing jaggies in video-based programmes, whilst also doing a good job of knowing when to engage Film Mode for the optimal display of film-originated material.

The only room for improvement here relates to the 40ZF355D's lack of per-input settings (consistent with the rest of Toshiba's TVs). This prevented us from easily introducing a small amount of artificial edge enhancement to sharpen up the blurry broadcasts a little, as doing so would spoil the pristine images from other connected devices, too.

HD Console Gaming (Xbox 360 HDMI)

A few games (OK, OK... a lot of games) of Halo 3 served as reminders of the Toshiba 40ZF355D's performance. The 30ms input lag was on the better side of acceptability and didn't appear to be a huge annoyance, and as the Toshiba 40ZF355D LCD TV was not adding any additional edge enhancement to the video, the game's existing jagged edges were not exacerbated further.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

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