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You don't have to look very far to appreciate the main appeal of the Toshiba 52Z3030D. For at 52in across, it is by a good five inches the largest Toshiba LCD TV yet.
But with Toshiba's latest LCD range proving quite bizarrely inconsistent so far, which side of the good/crud divide will this brute fall? Hopefully it will be the good, for there will be absolutely no hiding place for any crud on a screen as big as 52in…
There's also, of course, no hiding place in the average living room for a 52in screen. So it's just as well that Toshiba has made the 52Z3030 very easy on the eye in its high-gloss, impressively slender black bezel.
The Z part of the 52Z3030's name denotes it to be a member of Toshiba's current flagship LCD range. And the set goes about fulfilling its flagship duties by including a prodigious quantity of high quality connections headed up by a trio of v1.3-specified HDMIs. You can thus simultaneously connect, for instance, three of our favourite things: a Sky HD receiver, a Blu-ray player, and an Xbox 360 Elite. Marvellous.
Furthermore, the ‘v1.3' bit of the HDMI's spec means they're able to receive the Deep Color format reckoned to take HD picture quality to the next level. We'd love to tell you if this claim is true, but sadly we've not yet received any AV sources that actually support the format!
Elsewhere among the connections are a subwoofer line-out so you can easily add your own external active bass speaker if the in-built speakers don't prove adequate; a digital audio line out; and a D-Sub PC jack. So far, so good.
Turning to the key screen specifications, the good times continue to roll with the discovery of a full HD resolution, and a startling claimed contrast ratio of 14,000:1. To put this contrast into perspective, it's only a couple of thousand short of the contrast ratio claimed by Pioneer's ground-breaking ‘08XD' KURO plasma screens. Cool.
Unlike the KURO plasmas, though, the 14,000:1 contrast ratio figure is not a ‘native' one for the panel, but rather one derived from the fact that the 52Z3030 employs a dynamic backlight system that dims the screen's brightness during dark scenes to reduce the greyness that would otherwise afflict black parts of the picture. In other words, unlike with the KURO plasmas - or pretty much any plasmas, come to that - you'll never get this screen's maximum brightness and maximum black level response onscreen at the same time.