Toshiba 37HLX95 37-inch LCD HDTV/DVD Combo Page 2

The Short Form
$3,000 ($3,300 LIST) / 36 x 26.5 x 12 IN (WITH STAND) / 61 LBS / TACP.COM/TOSHIBA / 800-631-3811
Plus
•Eliminates need for separate DVD player or cable box •Great detail on standard and HDTV programs •Vivid, natural color after calibration
Minus
•Washed-out blacks in dark scenes •Some wobbly picture effects with DVDs 0604_toshiba_movie
Key Features
•1,366 x 768-resolution LCD display •Built-in DVD player •Built-in digital cable-ready HDTV tuner •Swiveling table stand •Inputs CableCARD slot; HDMI, •component-video, S-video, and •composite-video, all with analog stereo audio; 2 RF cable/antenna; VGA with minijack analog stereo audio •Outputs composite video; optical digital and analog stereo audio; minijack headphone •Price Price $3,000 ($3,300 list)
Test Bench
The Toshiba 37HLX95's color temperature measured very blue during testing with its Warm preset selected - so much so that service-level calibration was needed to get it within range of the standard 6,500-K grayscale for TVs. Grayscale tracking was ±300 K, which is about average. Color-decoder performance was excellent with the built-in DVD player or via the component-video and HDMI inputs, which contributed to the set's vivid color rendition. The Toshiba easily resolved all detail in a 720p-format HDTV signal via its HDMI input, but came up slightly short of full resolution with a component-video connection. Full Lab Results
PICTURE The Warm picture preset produced a more natural-looking picture than the TV's other settings, but it was still very much on the cool, bluish side. So I had to roll up my sleeves and do a service-level adjustment to get the colors looking right (see "test bench"). Along with a handful of picture presets, there's a Preference mode so you can store custom picture settings for each of the TV's inputs. There's also a backlighting adjustment that lets you crank up the brightness for daylight viewing, but it didn't seem to do much when I tried it out.

After I tweaked the Toshiba's color and reduced its brightness to an appropriate level for dim home theater viewing, the DVDs I played on its built-in drive looked pretty good. In the first 20 minutes or so of Wedding Crashers (the best part!), the bright colors in the hysterical party scenes came across as vivid yet very well defined - particularly so at the garish Indian wedding where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson's characters pose as "Sanjay Collins" and "Chuck Vindaloo." The skin tones of both the party guests and the near-maniacal crashers, meanwhile, looked natural and nuanced.

In a movie like Wedding Crashers that offers consistently well-illuminated shots, subtle black shades - as in the wedding guests' tuxedos - could be seen clearly. But more shadowy images, like those in the below-deck scenes from Master and Commander, looked relatively flat, with blacks appearing as more of a dark gray. I also noticed an odd "wobbly" picture effect in shots where the camera tilted or panned over a cluster of solid lines. In a shot of a cathedral from Wedding Crashers, for example, the patterns in the stained-glass windows shook like Jell-O as the camera trailed down the building's front surface.

I watched a fair amount of network and cable news on the Toshiba in bright, day-lit rooms and was impressed with how clear the picture looked with regular TV fare. (My 3-year-old also had no complaints about the TV's handling of Dora the Explorer and other animated shows.) Tuning in some high-def college basketball action on ESPN-HD with my cable box plugged into the TV's HDMI jack, I found the channel's 720p picture wonderfully crisp during a match between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Minnesota's yellow-and-maroon and Wisconsin's red-and-white uniforms came across as vivid blazes of color, and contrast was punchy without the white highlights standing out unnaturally.

The excellent picture detail held up well even as the players bounded down the court. It was certainly clear enough to let me read fine text in the signs surrounding the court - and to ponder the resemblance between Kammron Taylor and comedian Chris Rock as the Wisconsin guard concentrated on sinking his free throws. The Toshiba's picture looked noticeably softer when I used its high-def component-video input, so I'd recommend that you either stick with an HDMI hookup or use a direct digital cable connection.

BOTTOM LINE With 37-inch LCD TVs that boast 1080p resolution selling for as little as two grand and 42-inch plasma HDTVs heading south of that, the Toshiba 37HLX95 37-inch LCD HDTV/DVD combo won't represent the best value in the store. But this TV's DVD player and digital cable-ready HDTV tuner are two valuable features that eliminate the usual bevy of cumbersome external boxes and connections. Take into account the TV's swiveling stand and very good picture performance, especially with high-def programs, and it adds up to an attractive option for a bedroom or second home.

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