The remote control is identical to the one seen with the 42C3030D – this is a big improvement over the last generation of remotes, but it still lags behind the TV design in the style stakes. The remote is at least pretty responsive, even in the Freeview EPG – it’s also good to see that there’s the ability to jump forward 24 hours at a time.
The 42X3030D shares the same OSD as the cheaper 42C3030D, but this time everything is applicable. Although the 42C3030D had the Exact Scan Mode in its menu, this setting only applies to 1080 line panels. Basically Exact Scan is just Toshiba’s label for 1:1 pixel mapping, which means that if you feed the 42X3030D a 1,920 x 1,080 signal, it will display that image pixel for pixel, with no hint of over scanning. The result is a far sharper picture, with no scaling involved.
There’s both MPEG noise reduction and DNR on offer – a setting of Middle for the former and Auto for the latter seemed to do a good job of cleaning up dirty sources, without making the picture look over-processed. The 42X3030D also employs a dynamic backlight, so the intensity of the backlight will adjust depending on the scene being watched – during darker scenes the backlight will be turned down to help produce more convincing blacks. The dynamic backlight allows Toshiba to quote a dynamic contrast ratio of 6000:1, and although the contrast and black levels are good on the 42X3030D, they’re still no match for a decent plasma TV.
Slightly disappointing is that this TV doesn’t sport Toshiba’s Active Vision M100 100Hz processing – this basically doubles the amount of frames displayed each second by interleaving composite frame between each actual frame of video. I first saw Active Vision M100 when I reviewed the Regza 32WLT68 and was quite impressed with the way it pretty much eradicated motion smearing. Unfortunately Toshiba has reserved this feature for the top-of-the-range Z series, which is due out in September.
When it comes to picture quality the 42X3030D puts in a sterling performance, making it clear that anyone considering Toshiba’s entry level 42C3030D should seriously reconsider and spend the extra on this TV instead.
I know that I keep using Casino Royale on Blu-ray as a reference source, but it really is that good! I loaded Bond’s latest adventure on a Panasonic DMP-BD10A Blu-ray player which sent the gorgeous 1080p signal to the 42X3030D’s HDMI port. The images produced by this TV were staggeringly good, with the bright, slightly oversaturated Madagascan chase scene looking pin sharp and crystal clear. There were also no discernable motion smearing issues, although the clarity of the image drew me into the proceedings to such a degree that I often found myself just watching the movie rather than evaluating picture quality!
Switching formats to HD DVD I hooked up Toshiba’s HD-XE1 and loaded Serenity into the tray. Skipping to the space battle with the Reavers highlighted once more the supreme sharpness offered by the 42X3030D, as well as an extremely vivid colour palette. With the action spinning and spiralling in every direction as Wash threads his way through the convoy of spaceships, the 42X3030D produced a completely immersive viewing experience. And when River single handedly slices and dices the Reavers at the end, the 42X3030D does a pretty good job with the dark setting, with convincingly deep blacks for an LCD screen.