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I also appreciated the way the TV allows you to deactivate pretty much all of its various video processing elements if you don't like the way they're reacting with a particular source. And so a film stabiliser, the 100Hz system, MPEG and standard noise reduction routines, automatic contrast calculation, and even the dynamic backlight system (which the TV uses to boost its black level performance by reducing the output of its backlight) can all be deactivated at will.
A set of picture presets is provided, too, for people not confident enough to tinker with all the adjustments themselves. Included among these presets are a Movie mode and a Game mode that opens up a more direct path between a connected games console and the screen to reduce response time problems. Just make sure you avoid the far-too-aggressive Dynamic preset option.
As I start testing the 37RV555D's performance, I'm unfortunately struck right away by some unlucky timing on Toshiba's part. For its latest TV arrives hot on the heels of two excellent offerings from Sony and Panasonic, and it has to be said that against such estimable rivals, the 37RV555D doesn't do quite enough.
When it comes to pictures, there are three main reasons why the 37RV555D doesn't keep up with our recent TV Joneses. First, despite carrying 100Hz processing the set tends to suffer a little with motion blur, robbing even HD images of a little clarity whenever there's any significant amount of motion going on.
The second problem is that I don't particularly like the 37RV555D's contrast/brightness balance. By which I mean that while it is possible to achieve something approaching a rich, deep black colour during the dark scenes of, say, Iron Man on Blu-ray, this is only possible if you really ramp down the brightness quite severely. So severely, in fact, that the picture loses the snap and attention-grabbing vibrancy usually associated with LCD technology.
The Movie preset amply proves my point here, by suggesting that Toshiba itself recognises there's a problem with the screen's innate black levels. For choosing the Movie mode causes the TV's backlight output to be reduced all the way down to 30 per cent - a move which certainly takes out most of the grey misting that otherwise afflicts dark picture areas, but which also leaves the picture feeling slightly flat and uninvolving. Clearly the brief with this movie preset was to get a satisfying black level. But it's hard to believe that whoever calibrated it wouldn't also agree that they had to sacrifice a bit too much brightness for comfort in the process.
You can, of course, nudge the backlight and brightness levels up manually based on the Movie preset values. But the point here is that by the time you've increased the TV's brightness to a point where it's really eye-catching again, parts of the picture that should be black have started to look grey…
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