37Z3030 TOSHIBA LCD TV
Suitable for both light and dark environments:
The Toshiba is at home in both light and dark environments since the brightness can be fine-tuned through the step-free backlight intensity setting. The supplied rotating pedestal ensures correct positioning of the set for optimized viewing - which is a necessity for such viewing-angle dependent sets.
The built-in tuner receives both analog cable TV and digital (DVB-T) signals through the same antenna interface. If a local set-mounted DVB-T antenna is to be used, however, then inevitably either a separate adapter has to be purchased, or the cable TV option has to be dispensed with.
Three HDMI inputs are available for modern digital equipment connectivity such as Blu-ray players or HTDV receiver boxes while analog sets are interfaced through the usual Scart, YUV, composite or S-Video sockets. Characteristically, Toshiba has equipped this set with a separate subwoofer interface - a great idea considering the limited bass potential of the majority of television loudspeakers.
Toshiba has engineered a lot of detail into the set's operation. It is just a shame that this attention to detail is not applied across the whole product. In TV mode, the channel listing is comprehensive and ideal for rapid channel-hopping; the chosen high-resolution font of the responsive menu looks impressive but is not the best choice, and barely legible when viewing from the usual couch distance - not everyone would wish to get close to the screen to admire the detailed graphics.
By comparison to earlier Toshiba TV models, the 37 Z 3030 DG introduces global picture presets, and delivers an impressive picture straight from the box. The preset "Movie" together with the color temperature setting of "Natural" represent the closest rendition of reality - even though the red, green and blue primary colors are a little too vibrant. Selecting the "Warm" color temperature preset, however, results in a somewhat brownish picture.
A really annoying characteristic of this television is apparent when it comes to switching the picture format: To get a picture without overscan, the "Exact Scan" setting has to be re-adjusted each time the input source is changed.
TV and DVD Picture Quality
The 100 Hz "Active Vision M 100" implementation really brings the picture to life with the sharpness cranked right down relative to the factory preset, and the noise filter deactivated in the screen menu, especially when viewing fast-paced film sequences.
The rendering of details on this Japanese television set score just average as texture artifacts such as skin pores appear slightly washed out or blurred.
Ignoring this blunder, the video electronics work very well and deliver a flicker-free picture regardless whether the source is from the tuner or analog input. By contrast with other flat-panel television sets, where jagged edges appear along bevels, this Toshiba is luckily immune.
HDTV Picture Quality
Fine details of Blu-ray material are played back faultlessly regardless whether in 1080i or 1080p format. The latticework in front of and behind the crane trolley (construction scene) in the Bond movie "Casino Royale" is quite distinguished, something that should definitely not be taken for granted. High-resolution interlaced signals (1080i) from an HDTV set-top box are reproduced impeccably without any kind of dysfunction - which is also not to be underestimated.
By comparison, the processing of 24p material for flicker-free cinema quality playback is somewhat tainted: With the now somewhat notorious "Film Stabilization" mode activated, the picture alternates between smooth transitions and light judder in the computer animated opening credits sequences of the Bond movie. Deactivating this feature, however, produces the usual flicker associated with 60 Hz playback.
Despite the dynamic regulation of the backlight, sinister scenes such as nighttime chases are somewhat flat when compared with other state-of-the-art LCD flat-panel TVs. The color balance is not perfect as it drifts too far over into the blue spectrum, and in particular greens are too intensive (fault here is the extended color space). Even black-and-white sequences, such as those in the opening credits to "Casino Royale", suffer because of it.
Computer Operation and Sound Quality
Using the Toshiba 37 Z 3030 DG as a computer monitor is a real pleasure. Images are displayed in full 1920 x 1080 pixel HDMI resolution with perfect pixel coverage, so that even detailed fonts and characters are clearly legible.
Even the Toshiba suffers the ill effects of all flat-panel televisions - their physical dimensions forbid the integration of large loudspeakers, and their limited cabinet volumes are not favorable for studio sound reproduction. The built-in loudspeakers do deliver a full-bodied bass and undertones, but the higher frequency notes lose their authenticity. Listening to music videos or concerts will soon convince the audience to play the content through the AV interface to suitable hi-fi equipment. The strong midrange notes are perfect for the clear understanding of spoken dialog associated with newscasters, commentators and chat-show hosts.
Settings for the best home-theatre performance.
MPEG Noise Reduction: