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Toshiba 40ZF355D Operation
The design and usability of the Toshiba 40ZF355D's on-screen menus is consistent with the rest of the company's LCD TVs. Pressing the MENU button on the remote will display the familiar pastel-coloured, legible options menu in the middle of the screen. The options are split into 6 categories: Picture, Sound, Setup, REGZA Link, Timer, and Function.
The [Picture] menu, as usual, hides more pedestrian options away in a separate screen called "Picture Settings", and instead presents some more non-standard tweaks first. These are [Active Backlight Control], which analyses the picture content and adjusts the screen brightness for a greater (but fluctuating) contrast ratio, [Cinema Mode], which is Toshiba's name for cadence detection and naturally, is only available with an interlaced source, [Film Stabilization] which generates in-between frames to give films a more video-like appearance, a much-appreciated option to toggle the 100hz mode on or off, an option relating to the xvYCC colour space, and finally, options to configure the colour decoding (an excellent feature which Toshiba excels at providing).
The [Picture Settings] screen houses the traditional adjustments. In here, we have an adjustment for the [Backlight], absolutely essential for getting the best black level, [Contrast], [Brightness], [Colour], [Tint] (which is accessible on all sources, not just NTSC ones), [Sharpness], [Black Stretch], [MPEG NR], traditional [DNR], and lastly, an option to switch between one of three [Colour Temperature] options.
The majority of these options are not saved per-input, which is a pity, but doesn't have to be a deal-breaker by any means. The exceptions are the MPEG NR and DNR functions, meaning that you can apply these to nasty-looking Digital TV broadcasts but not your higher quality DVD, Blu-ray or gaming sources.
I was a little disappointed to see that the Toshiba 40ZF355D HDTV had no user-accessible controls for calibrating Greyscale. This struck me as a little odd, as I've recently reviewed lower-end Toshiba televisions that had this feature ready for user tweaking. Fortunately, the existing "Warm" preset isn't too far from our desired 6500K, and we soon found the missing options hiding in the service menu, for users willing to enter this mode.
The tiny speaker bar fitted to the Toshiba 40ZF355D will never produce truly satisfying sound, but we found that it did its job adequately for viewing TV programmes. Toshiba provides several options for altering the characteristics of the sound, including controls for Bass and Treble, a [Bass Boost] function, and control over SRS WOW sound processing features, including [SRS 3D], [FOCUS], and [TruBass].
Scattered throughout the various other menu pages are features to rename inputs (meaning you can have "BLU-RAY" instead of "HDMI2", for example), how to deal with 4:3 content (stretch or preserve ratio), and an option to set the blue light fitted at the bottom of the bezel to either Low, Medium or High illumination. Strangely, there's no option to turn it off, but it's not distracting in the slightest at the Low setting.
You might have noticed that the option for 1:1 mapping isn't located in these menus. The Toshiba 40ZF355D LCD HDTV does have this feature, but it's actually accessed from the Aspect Ratio pop-up menu (the option you're looking for is called [Exact Scan], but there's also one called [PC] which does the same thing). Irritatingly, this mode needs to be activated each time you change between inputs, or the device you're using begins sending a different scan-rate or resolution. For example, if you're watching Blu-ray movies on a Playstation 3, and a Bonus Feature stored in Standard Definition plays, you'll need to re-enable the [Exact Scan] mode once the SD content is over and you're back to watching the 1080p film.
EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)
Like most manufacturers, Toshiba appears to apply the same EPG and Digital TV functionality consistently across its LCD televisions. While I'm not overly fond of the design, colour scheme, or the time the Toshiba 40ZF355D takes to process your input commands, it's by no means unusable.
Once again, the remote control included with the 40ZF355D is the familiar Toshiba design which is included across their product range. It's not too satisfying to use, but on the up-side, it looks decent in its black and silver styling, and is fairly light.
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