The 42AV635DB is surprisingly flexible with its picture setup for such a bargain-bucket TV too. On the ‘automatic’ side of things, there’s an optional tool that combines simultaneous analysis of the ambient light level and the picture content to arrive at what the processing believes is the optimum picture settings. Ambient light functions on other TVs tend to work in isolation, without also taking into account the content of the image.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find my HD Video Essentials Blu-ray set-up disc getting more use than expected courtesy of a passably flexible and useful colour management system. This lets you manipulate the hue, saturation and gain for the six main colour constituents of a video picture.
Other pleasing set up discoveries are a static gamma adjustment, a sliding bar to select the balance between the black and white extremes of the colour palette, and the facility to set the starting point for the TV’s auto backlight adjustment feature. You can even set the screen to show just its blue, green or red colours - the sort of calibration aid we’d only expect to find on a relatively high-end TV with ISF accreditation, not some supposedly cheap and cheerful budget model.
Perhaps inevitably with such a cheap TV, though, despite all of its calibration tools the 42AV635DB only delivers a decent rather than amazing picture performance, for the simple reason that it’s unable to rise above a couple of classic LCD problems.
The most instantly obvious of these can be seen when watching dark scenes, as the set fails to hit the black level heights - or rather, depths - we’re starting to see from one or two rival sets, even down at the 42AV635DB’s sort of price level.
This is particularly true with most of the set’s preset picture modes, but even after sliding the backlight output right down - leaving the image very low on brightness by LCD TV standards - and emphasising black in the provided black/white balance bar, there was still definite greyness to be seen.
Models I’m thinking of that better the Toshiba in the black level department without costing substantially more would be Samsung’s LE40B550, and Panasonic’s plasma-based P42X10. It looks as if the 42AV635DB’s rather uninspiring 15,000:1 quoted contrast ratio (actually less than that quoted for the 37AV635) lives down to expectations. Though I should also say that the 42AV635 is actually rather better in the black level department than the efforts of the specialist budget brands.
My response to the 42AV635DB’s black levels isn’t improved by the screen’s rather limited viewing angle before contrast reduces badly, and the appearance of some backlight inconsistency, particularly - on our review sample - in the bottom left hand corner.
It commonly follows that a TV with contrast issues also has a few colour issues, and so it proves with the 42AV635DB. Some reds and greens just look a bit dingy - for want of a more scientific term! - during dark scenes, especially when you’re watching standard definition.