So far Toshiba’s claim that it’s caught up with the LCD early birds seems fair. And happily this impression is reinforced in spectacular fashion by the 32WLT66’s outstanding picture quality.
Grabbing our attention first – and holding it tight – are the set’s colours. We’re now getting used to seeing intense colours from LCD TVs, but those of this Toshiba model are a notch more vibrant than most. What’s more, this colour intensity is achieved without such colour noise or messy edging, and without letting the colour tone become unrealistic and ‘cartoony’.
Part of the reason the colours look so dynamic is that the screen’s black levels are also exceptional by LCD standards. As well as throwing bright colours into starker relief, this also gives the picture more depth – especially as the dark areas on this Toshiba aren’t the empty shells they so often are on rival LCDs, instead showing up plenty of subtle colour and detail effects.
Yet more good news comes with the 32WLT66’s sharpness. High definition looks stuffed full of detail and texture, as well as looking crisper than a Walker’s tasting convention. But PAL standard definition broadcasts via the digital tuner also appear unexpectedly clean and clear, doubtless thanks to the detail-boosting antics of Toshiba’s Active Vision processing. What’s more, Active Vision does its thing without throwing up any unwanted digital processing side effects such as smearing or edge noise.
Talking of smearing, motion on the 32WLT66 is largely free of this common LCD glitch. Even a full-tilt Thierry Henry presented the set with little problem during our tests.
Not everything about the 32WLT66’s pictures is perfect, though. For instance, while black levels are a cut above those of most rivals, just occasionally really dark images adopt an ever-so-slightly bluish hue. Also during some dark scenes, the generally impeccable colour scheme loses a fraction of its naturalism. Finally, actors’ skin can look a touch smooth and ‘waxy’ at times. But we only bother you with these really quite minimal complaints because it’s our job to do so. Chances are that they’ll hardly bother a ‘normal’ TV viewer at all.
The 32WLT66’s audio performance isn’t quite as inspiring as its pictures. There’s a sense that something is missing from both the highest and lowest extremes of the audio range, leaving the mid range feeling a bit overloaded. But this overloading isn’t severe enough to cause speech to sound muffled or action scenes to sound unduly harsh. Plus, of course, if the bass really doesn’t feel powerful enough for you, you could always add that optional subwoofer speaker we mentioned earlier…
With the 32WLT66, Toshiba’s game of LCD catch-up is definitely over – and it’s won. Its connections are unusually flexible, its picture performance is easily as good as anything we’ve seen from any other LCD manufacturer to date, and when you consider all this, its price tag looks pretty darned reasonable, too.