Test Report: Toshiba 47TL515U 3D LCD HDTV Page 3


Having read interesting things about the use of natural light in the cinematography for the recent film version of Jane Eyre, I was quick to Netflix it when it came out on Blu-ray. Glad I did: It’s a great adaptation, and it looks great, too. In the shots where Jane and Rochester wander the grounds of Thornfield Hall, the pair’s sunlight-deprived skin tones were spot-on, while the greens of trees and carefully pruned hedges looked natural. Also, the pink, purple, and yellow flowers in the background came across as reasonably vibrant.

While the Toshiba delivered decent-looking blacks in many scenes, its overall performance here didn’t hold up well compared with other LED-lit TVs I’ve tested recently. Black letterbox bars in widescreen movies showed up as more of a dark gray. And uneven performance of the Toshiba’s local dimming LED backlight meant that screen uniformity was less than optimal in really dark scenes. For example, in one scene where Jane roams the halls of the manor at night holding a candle to find her way, the black background looked lighter at the edges of the screen than at its center. Conversely, bright scenes in movies also appeared to lose highlight detail with DynaLight switched on — something that could be verified by looking at test patterns.

The Toshiba’s performance with 3D movies was similar to that of the one other passive 3D model I’ve tested, LG’s 47LW5600. That is, it puts out a bright, satisfying 3D picture that can be watched over a wide viewing angle. Even if you slouch back in a relaxed posture on the couch, 3D images retain their solidity.

In Disney’s Rio, a scene where Linda and Blu (a rare blue macaw) first arrive in Brazil and get caught in Carnival-related traffic displayed an excellent sense of depth, with revelers in the foreground standing in stark contrast to the boulevard extending deep into the background. And in a later scene where Blu and Jewel, his partner in blueness, get chased by the evil cockatoo Nigel, the bird’s-eye 3D camera perspective was visually enthralling as they flew through the city’s labyrinthine passageways. It did, however, make me wish I was watching on a much larger screen.

As with the LG, I saw very few instances of crosstalk (ghosting) on the Toshiba. But, same as with that other TV, its Film Patterned Retarder — an element lining the panel’s surface that serves to polarize images for left/right-eye consumption — created a “scan- line” texture that could be easily seen from the 6- to 7-foot viewing distance recommended for a screen this size. (It was mostly undetectable at 10 feet.) I imagine this won’t be a problem for many viewers, but I can’t count myself among them.

Setting the Toshiba’s Film Stabilization mode to Smooth managed to successfully remove judder artifacts from film-based content, but it also lent pictures an overly fluid “video” look. (I’d characterize the effect as a visual mix between a TV soap opera and sped-up silent comedies from film’s early days.) Otherwise, video processing was mostly excellent: Standard-def programs arriving via HDMI or component video and upconverted by the set looked both solid and reasonably crisp. And its MPEG and digital noise reduction modes helped reduce picture noise without eliminating detail.