Toshiba REGZA 52HL167 LCD 1080p Television Page 3
In fact, the Toshiba really showed what it could do on these new high-definition formats. The Chronicles of Riddick may not be a very good movie (though in the Vin Diesel pantheon it's a big step up from xXx), but it's a remarkable HD DVD, and it's stunning image quality was crystal clear on the Toshiba. There are plenty of very dark scenes here—particularly in the nighttime battle scenes early in the film and a later sequence in a prison. While the Toshiba's blacks weren't the best I've seen, they were excellent for an LCD. Only rarely did either the black level or lack of shadow details distract me from the movie.
The Mummy is a similarly pristine HD DVD. The opening scenes in ancient Egypt—both bright and dark—were strikingly crisp and detailed. And considering how good the Toshiba looked on them, it was no surprise that it had great punch, color, and detail when the scene shifted to more modern times in the bright desert.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, on Blu-ray, is one of the best new HD discs in either format—a rare combination of a great transfer of a great movie. There's no shortage of detail here on the Toshiba; you can count the freckles on the young Elizabeth Swan's face early in the story. The color was outstanding, and the blacks were very good as well, even in difficult, darker scenes.
The Toshiba didn't always completely avoid one issue common to LCDs: Setup can sometimes involve choosing between slightly crushed blacks and a subtly washed-out look that reduces image punch and depth. But whichever compromise you choose, the result on the Toshiba is always highly watchable. I prefer slightly crushed blacks, as I dislike the smallest hint of a washed-out image.
Problem areas? I've already mentioned occasional false contouring, but it was not common enough to obsess over. The viewing angle was fairly critical with this set, however. Twenty degrees off-axis is about the maximum you should sit unless you want to watch a consistently washed-out image. That angle doesn't sound like much, but it's big enough to encompass all the seats on a large sofa, and then some, from a comfortable viewing distance.
There was occasional motion lag, though it was rarely troubling. Still, if you're into sports and video games you might want to look into some of the new LCD developments, offered by Toshiba and others in some models, designed to minimize this problem [or look at plasma- Ed.].
The Toshiba's video processing was fair at best, though it rarely produced visible artifacts on real program material. It passed the difficult Coliseum "flyover" at the end of chapter 12 of Gladiator. And with a 1080i input it handled the details in the Vatican wall in Chapter 7 of the MI3 Blu-ray release perfectly, but stumbled on the steps at the start of chapter 8 of the same disc. A perceptible shimmer intruded on the latter, which cleared up when I switched the player to 1080p.
But in my standard series of deinterlacing and scaling tests from the 480i SD version of the Silicon Optix test disc, the Toshiba's performance was less pristine. It was fair on the Jaggies tests. It failed the fluttering flag test, with jagged edges clearly visible, was below average in the 2:2 and 3:2 cadence tests, but good on mixed content (film and video). It did pass the racetrack test for 3/2 pulldown on the Spears and Munsil HD DVD test disc, but failed it on Silicon Optix' SD version. The effect of either of its noise reduction controls on the Silicon Optix SD noise tests was barely perceptible—even on High.
The Toshiba did properly deinterlace the 1080i test on the Silicon Optix HD test discs to its native 1080p panel resolution, but it would not recognize and properly deal with 3/2 pulldown with the 1080i film resolution test.
Finally, the audio from Toshiba's SoundStrip2 system surprised me. Yes, it was very boxy sounding. But it was reasonably well balanced and not actively irritating. Given my impressions of the sound offerings in many earlier flat panels, that's high praise. Most of you will be using your own external sound systems most of the time, but I can guarantee you will find a need for at least occasional use of the set's internal amps and speakers.
In the past year I've changed my previously lukewarm position on LCD flat panel displays, and Toshiba's REGZA 52HL167 has contributed to that change. Yes, like all modern displays you can actually afford to buy, it has flaws. But in the areas where it matters on real program material—clarity, detail, lack of distracting artifacts, and, yes, even black levels- it's a very impressive performer.
Crisp, natural detail
Image deteriorates noticeably when viewed much off-axis
Video processing worse than average
Excessive, non defeatable edge sharpening in component
Accepts 1080p/24, but displays it at 1080p/60