Toshiba 56HM195 56-inch 1080p DLP HDTV Page 2

The Short Form

$3,200 / 51.75 x 36.25 x 17 IN / 87 LBS / TACP.TOSHIBA.COM / 800-867-4422

•Displays full detail from 1080i sources. •Extremely bright picture. •No visible pixel structure.

•Some "false contour" banding. •Inconsistent color of gray. 0601_toshiba_movie
Key Features
•1080p DLP light engine •Compatible with Toshiba Symbio external DVRs •IR pass-through and TheaterNet onscreen control system •Digital cable-ready with CableCARD slot and TV Guide On Screen •inputs 2 HDMI, 2 DTVLink, 2 component-video •Fully backlit remote control •5-format memory-card reader for digital photos and music files •Price $3,200 list
Test Bench
The 56HM195 gave mixed results in testing. Multiburst patterns from Sencore and Accupel signal generators looked excellent with 1080i sources, with every line resolved, while 720p sources did not deliver nearly as much detail. The grayscale was quite blue overall before calibration and much improved afterward. Color decoding was very accurate. Geometry was very good on my review sample, while overscan was a little worse than average at about 5%. Uniformity was worse than on many DLP sets, showing color variations across the screen in gray areas. A horizontal ramp pattern showed large steps and discolorations instead of a smooth transition from black to white.

On the other hand, I noticed significant "false contouring," which appears as distinct bands of varying brightness where I should have seen smooth gradations from light to shadow. In one instance, the headlights of Hartigan's car created bands as their light became fainter toward the middle of the hood. I saw similar effects in the faces of the two unnamed characters in the introduction - the woman's cheek had a blotchy blue area along a distinct band at the edge of her cheekbone where I should have seen a natural fade into shadow.

Depending on the brightness of the gray areas, some of the bands took on unnatural discolorations, tending toward faint purple or green in places that should have been neutral gray. While Sin City's black-and-white images made the discoloration more obvious, the banding was plainly visible in many types of color program material as well, via all inputs and resolutions. This effect is not unknown in HDTVs, even DLP models, but it was more pronounced here than on any other 1080p DLP I've reviewed so far.

In its favor, the Toshiba rendered a deep, inky black that gave the picture plenty of pop and impact. Shadows were clean, without much of the grainy noise in dark areas that I've seen on other 1080p DLP sets. Sin City also helped demonstrate the Toshiba's excellent contrast: white areas were extra-bright next to those inky dark shadows. This set would have no trouble in a fully lit room. And as I've come to expect from 1080p DLP, pixel structure was invisible - I was able to walk right up to the screen and stare into Kevin's pure white sunglasses without making out individual pixels.

On the other hand, the movie did manage to bring out some color-wheel rainbows - brief trails of color along the edges of brighter objects, like Hartigan's white tie on the pier - but it was no worse than I typically see with DLP sets and something many viewers won't even notice.

To showcase the Toshiba's 1080p capabilities, I chose Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials D-VHS (the 1080i version) delivered via the HDMI jack. The Space Shuttle launch sequence, with music by Respighi, looked spectacular. A series of ripples made the waving American flag look real enough to touch, and I could easily discern ridges in the individual tiles on Atlantis's hull and individual rivets in the black borders around the cockpit windows. During liftoff, the huge burst of smoke engulfed the gantry in beautifully defined billows of amazing complexity.

Once in orbit, the camera lingers on the earth from above, and while the clouds remained crisp, I did notice the unwanted contours again. As the blue sea passed beneath and the sharp light of the sun cut into it, then faded slowly as it crossed the water, I saw distinct bands of gradation instead of a smooth transition from light to dark areas of the picture.

BOTTOM LINE The Toshiba's issues with false contours and somewhat inconsistent grays might give some home theater aficionados pause. But the 56HM195's sharpness with 1080i HDTV sources combined with its bright picture makes a package that high-def football fans will want to draft early, and its low asking price just helps sweeten the deal. On any given Sunday, it all depends what team you're on.