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42X3030D Lab Test & Calibration

by Vincent Teoh & Colin Tang
17 May 2007

The Toshiba 42X3030DBuy this for £712.49 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £37.50 discount
has a few minor quirks that I should iron out before getting down to the nitty gritty. The lack of independent memory input per source is noticed, especially when you consider that its becoming a standard feature with many of its top rivals. It has instead 4 picture modes accessible from the remote – 3 presets labelled Picture 1,2,3 and an M-mode, which stores the latest modifications made in the earlier 3 modes (if changed) or any user specified changes directly.

Picture 1 and 2 seem to have dynamic dimming enabled so if you want to avoid that, make sure you start making your adjustments on Picture 3 and then select Picture M at any point to save and carry over the 'disabled auto-dimming feature' over to the Picture M.

For amateur calibrators or anyone thinking of ISF calibration, it is worth pointing out that Picture M and DTV modes appear to store different contrast, brightness, colour cuts and drives in the service menu. So don't forget to transfer your service menu settings over to the freeview channel, if appropriate.

Torture Test

Dead pixels None
Screen Uniformity Minor banding
Overscanning on HDMI, Component Corrected with Exactscan on 1080 source
Blacker than black Passed
Black level Good
Black level retention Stable in Picture 3
Primary colours Good
Scaling Fair
Video mode deinterlacing Good
Film mode deinterlacing 3:2 cadence passed
Viewing angle Below average (<100)
Motion blur Slight
Digital noise Mild noise at 8 feet
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement

Black Level

Since the greyscale controls are accessible via service menu, some intervention was necessary to unlock the 42X3030D's full potential. I must point out that while the service menu is not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced, a suitable reward awaits anyone willing to experiment on it. The menu is clearly labelled, easy to navigate and less cryptic than a lot of other menus we have had the opportunity to indulge in. After calibration, the result is good black levels, better contrast ratio and improved greyscale behaviour. The TV passes blacker-than-black data successfully and has no evidence of auto-dimming.

Pre CCT
Pre-calibration CCT: In Picture 3 mode, the CCT on default warm option wasn't far off...
Post CCT
Post calibration CCT: Much better after service menu calibration

Pre Greyscale
Pre-calibration: Intensity luminance graph
Post Greyscale
Post-calibration: Not the smoothest response at mid-intensities

Greyscale

After calibration, greyscale is fairly accurate from 20 to 100 percent stimulus, except for a dE peak at about 50 percent. On a smooth grey ramp from black to peak white, this manifests as a mild yellowish-white band in the corresponding region. (red + green = yellow). There is no evidence of static false contours or color-shifting on close examination of the greyscale pattern.

The greyscale intensity-luminance curve is computed at around 2.2, which is generally too low for regular viewing in low ambient light conditions. We will discuss it's significance on shadow detail and image contrast in a moment. The gamma curve is not as smooth as it should be but this will not cause any perceptible defects under regular viewing

Pre RGB Pre-calibration: RGB tracking
Post RGB
Post calibration: RGB tracking

Shadow Detail

Warning: please skip this bit if you're not in the least bit interested on how gamma tracking affects shadow detail and image contrast.

The Toshiba 42X3030DBuy this for £712.49 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £37.50 discount
doesn't have a gamma control, so any calibration adjustments to overall contrast (white level) and brightness (black level) will inevitably shift the gamma line, as it has done in the second graph post calibration. Now the higher the gamma value on the y-axis, the darker the picture gets and vice versa. Also, it's better to aim for a straight yellow line, but most of the time this is out of your control and more to do with internal processing.

With the final average gamma of 2.2, the Toshiba does very well in bright viewing conditions, with visible shadow detail exceeding the best plasmas. But for our low ambient light setting, the gamma should probably be around 2.4-2.5 to maximise image contrast, another important but intangible picture quality parameter. We could of course alter the contrast-brightness relationship to correct this but that would mean sacrificing overall contrast ratio, adversely affecting overall picture brightness or black luminance.

In general, we don't advocate using [Black Stretch] as it artificially surpresses shadow areas to create better contrast between light and dark regions. But in our case, we made a rare exception to the rule and turned it on for excellent visual effect. Shadow details are dampened a little but it's still above many LCDs out there at the moment. And of course, image contrast is sufficiently improved for low light viewing.

Pre Gamma Tracking
Original gamma tracking
Gamma
Post calibration gamma tracking
Gamma Black Stretch
Post calibration gamma with black stretch on

Colour

The 42X3030D comes in only one colourspace, and thank god, it wasn't miles away from the HD 709 standard. There is a disturbing trend with LCD manufacturers trying to programme wider gamut of colours that isn't encoded in the original material! We know that previous Toshiba models were even closer to colour standards, so it is reassuring that Toshiba hasn't veered wildly off the path on this aspect.

Pre-calibration, there was an excess of saturation in all colours and possibly a slight red push. As per graph, greens had too much cyan in it, but to be honest, it's something you can only spot if you're an avid colourist or if you have some reference picture to compare it with.

With some laborious adjustments on the 3D colour controls, we made siginificant improvements in the overall balance of the colour. Saturation was tamed to a more pleasing level and red push was successfully eliminated.

Pre CIE
Pre-calibration CIE: Toshiba only offers one colourspace, which isn't too far off HD 709 standard.
Post CIE
Post calibration CIE

Motion

Some motion smearing is present, but only if you look for it on fast panning shots and quick action sports. It's not something that bothers me at all, (ok I don't watch a lot of football) but if you're concerned, the Toshiba Z series may prove more suitable (and expensive) with the cool Motion 100 technology designed to limit motion blurring on LCDs. It's out later this year, so stay tuned.

Detail & Sharpness

I have to confess that, personally, I'm a resolution addict. The thought of passing the full 1080 resolution onto the screen without decimation or any scaling is a constant obsession. Why settle for any potential scaling artifacts, ie blurring, jaggies, ringing, when you have paid for high definition stuff? In this, the Toshiba 42X3030DBuy this for £712.49 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £37.50 discount
gets my approval for doing just that. With Exactscan (1:1 mapping) enabled over HDMI and component, 1080 sources just look a tad sharper and crispier compared to lower resolution HDTVs.

Viewing Angles

I'm not terribly impressed with the viewing angle on this unit, which is acceptable at a little over 100 degrees. There are some really stiff competition out there with IPS (In-Plane Switching) and SPVA (Super Patterned Vertical Alignment) leading the way and setting the standards so to speak. Having said that, I am not a big fan of watching TV from any angle, so looking straight on is absolutely fine with me. The swivelling stand should allay some of your anxiety if you have problems with this.

Video Artifacts

Because of its impressive video and film mode deinterlacing incorporated in the Active Vision LCD processing, the Toshiba suffers from fewer video artifacts compared to its main competitors in the LCD arena. The motion-adaptive jaggie reduction looks clean on our tests, with results being very close to the venerated Pioneer plasma. 3:2 cadence detection is effective, even on mixed edits. This eliminates jaggies and moire patterns in the corresponding materials.

There is mild digital noise visible at about 6 feet from the TV with the noise processing off. At 8 feet, which is our usual distance, the effect is hard to see, You can turn on the DNR noise reduction feature to flatten the noise a little, but overdoing this may increase motion blurring with moving objects.


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