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Toshiba 52XV545U LCD TV

With the format war behind it, Toshiba is now concentrating on improving the look of standard-definition content on high-def displays. A new upscaling-enhancement technology called SRT (Super Resolution Technology) is now available in some of Toshiba's latest LCD TVs, including the top-of-the-line Cinema Series.

The largest of this series is the 52-inch 52XV545U reviewed here; also available are 46- and 42-inch versions. Curiously, the previously reviewed but more-expensive 52XF550U is not in the Cinema Series, though it is very similar in most respects.

Features
The 52XV545U and 52XF550U share most of the same features, with one major exception—the 52XV545U has SRT, which purports to sharpen standard-def and 720p material as it's upconverted to 1080p. This is akin to—but different than—the XDE technology found in Toshiba's XD-E500 DVD player, which, as reviewer David Vaughn discovered, doesn't work very well at all. I was eager to see if SRT would do any better.

Like most high-end LCD TVs these days, the 52XV545U features 120Hz operation—frames are flashed on the screen at a rate of 120 per second, twice the normal video rate of 60Hz and five times the film frame rate of 24fps. In conjunction with ClearFrame—Toshiba's frame-interpolation algorithm—this is intended to reduce the motion blur that has plagued LCD TVs since their introduction.

Frame interpolation creates new frames to insert between the actual frames in a video signal, calculating where moving objects should be in those new frames to smooth out the motion and sharpen the image. However, this process can introduce artifacts of its own. Unlike many 120Hz LCD TVs, the 52XV545U's ClearFrame control has only two settings—On and Off. Such controls on other TVs typically offer different degrees of interpolation so you can balance the increased sharpness with any artifacts that might intrude.

Another feature related to movie playback is called Film Stabilization. Unfortunately, the manual does not explain what this control does, and Toshiba offered no details—I suspect it determines the degree of interpolation. Film Stabilization is only available if ClearFrame is on, and unlike the 52XF550U, I could see some differences between the settings.

Color-point adjustment is becoming more common, and Toshiba's version is called ColorMaster. This lets you tweak the hue, saturation, and brightness of each primary (red, green, blue) and secondary (yellow, cyan, magenta) color, effectively moving the color points as needed. This is a potentially great feature, but it should not be attempted without the requisite tools and training. And although it worked well in the 52XF550U, it did not in the 52XV545U.

With four HDMI 1.3 inputs, the 52XV545U implements Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), which Toshiba calls Regza Link. This sends control codes via HDMI to any compatible devices, turning them on and off and setting their inputs or outputs automatically as required. The TV recognized my Samsung BD-P1200 Blu-ray player via Regza Link. The player responded to the TV remote's transport controls, and it turned off when I powered down the TV, but it did not turn on with the TV.

Other HDMI 1.3 features include Deep Color (increased color bit-depth) and x.v.Color (expanded color gamut), though no commercial titles are created using these enhanced specs. Some HD camcorders use Deep Color and x.v.Color, so the TV can display your own content from such a camcorder in its full glory. Of more importance is a lip-sync latency setting, which automatically delays the audio so it syncs up with the video. However, you must set these controls with no HDMI cable connected to the TV, which seems a bit strange.

As all 1080p displays should, this one has a 1:1 pixel-mapping mode for 1080i/p signals—it's the Native aspect-ratio setting. The manual says there's a Dot-by-Dot mode as well, but it's not visible when an HDMI or component input is selected; it's available only for the VGA input.

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