Toshiba Regza Cinema Series 52LX177 52-inch LCD HDTV
Toshiba has long been an all-purpose TV company making sets in virtually every display category. But like a few other TV makers, the company has apparently decided to limit its future big-screen offerings to flat-panel LCD models. To stand out in this increasingly crowded market, though, the company is clearly amping up the high-end performance features in its Regza line, of which the new Toshiba Regza Cinema Series 52LX177 52-inch LCD HDTV ($3,600) is a prime example.
The big news in this 52-incher is ClearFrame - which bumps the TV's refresh rate from the standard 60 Hz up to 120 Hz to reduce LCD motion blur. But instead of simply displaying each video frame twice in succession, the TV uses something that Toshiba calls Motion Vector Frame Interpolation to create new "tween" frames from the existing ones - a technique that generally results in smoother motion. Other highlights include both dynamic and variable backlight settings, a wide-gamut lamp to enhance color reproduction, and HDMI 1.3 inputs that offer present and future wonders such as Deep Color, xvYCC color space display, and automatic lip-sync.
With its buttonless, gloss-black front, the 52LX177 has an appealingly clean look. The TV's curved stand manages the neat trick of being sturdy while taking up only a tiny footprint, and a "Soundbar" running along the bottom edge projects impressively large and clear sound for something that's only about 1 inch high. The TV boasts an unusually wide range of inputs as well, including three HDMI, two component-video, and one VGA. An Ethernet port connects to a home network for streaming photos and music and for checking and sending e-mail.
Toshiba's bulky remote is crowded, but fortunately it's fully backlit. Pressing the Input button calls up a menu of sources to toggle or scroll through, or you can jump directly to one by punching its associated number on the remote. Pressing the TV's Pic Size button calls up a similar menu of aspect-ratio modes. The choices here include Native (displays high-def with no overscan), Natural (displays pictures in their original aspect ratio with moderate overscan), Full (16:9 for widescreen DVDs), 4:3, and three Theaterwide stretch and zoom modes. All modes work with standard- and high-def signals.
SETUP The 52LX177 has an impressive suite of setup features, starting with a trio of picture memories (Preference, Pro1, and Pro2) that can be individually tweaked for each input. Along with basic adjustments, you also get the option to modify the set's variable and dynamic backlight settings for each custom picture memory. And the TheaterLock feature lets you lock down your adjustments via a menu switch.
The Toshiba's advanced tweaks include both dynamic contrast and MPEG noise reduction, as well as a variable gamma adjustment. Then comes the esoteric stuff. Color Master Pro lets you adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness levels of as many as nine colors (red, green, blue, yellow, magenta, and cyan plus three custom). ClearFrame is the set's aforementioned 120-Hz scanning mode. And the xvYCC feature lets the TV display the extended range of colors made possible through the xvYCC color space, though this requires source material that's not yet widely available.