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As I mentioned a few days ago when I reviewed the smallest LED-backlit TV yet, Sharp’s 32LE600E, most brands right now are seeing LED as a large-screen technology. Cue Toshiba’s colossal 55in, direct LED 55SV685DB. But will this screen prove that bigger is always better with LED, or will it be a case of the bigger they come, the harder they fall?
Before we get into the review proper, there are a couple of interesting little contexts I think it’s worthwhile introducing. First, the 55SV685DB isn’t the first 55in LED-lit TV we’ve tested. The first, Sony’s ‘luxury’ 55X4500, used direct LED lighting with RGB dimming to good effect but at a hefty price. Samsung’s recent UE55B7020, meanwhile, used edge-LED lighting and managed to be reasonably affordable, yet it frankly struggled to make edge-based LED technology work at the 55in size, with marked light pooling in each corner.
So if the 55SV685DB can make its white dimming direct LED approach work at its Sony-drubbing £2,149 price (the cheapest we’ve found the now aging Sony 55X4500 is £2,800), then Toshiba could be ideally positioned to snap up a hefty chunk of the mammoth-screen marketplace.
The other point of context comes from the fact that I’ve already reviewed the 55SV685DB’s smaller sibling, the 46SV685D, and found myself having to mark it down heavily on account of its price. So it’s rather startling to find the 55SV685DB actually looking reasonably priced for such a huge LED-lit screen. In fact, we’ve found it going for the best part of £200 less than the 46in model did when we reviewed it back in November!
Clearly Toshiba has listened to my moans about how absurdly expensive the 46SV685D looked. Either that, or they realised that they weren’t selling any at the original SV685 price level! At any rate, the simple fact is that Toshiba has absolutely slashed the 55SV685DB’s price from its opening gambit, and in doing so has instantly overcome what was likely to be a huge bone of contention throughout this review.
Fitting a 55in screen into your living room is, of course, quite a commitment. And it has to be said that in the 55SV685DB’s case, this level of commitment is added to by the rather hefty chunk of bezel that sticks out for around three inches on each of the screen’s sides. Oh well - at least this bezel is reasonably attractive with its glass-like finish and cute ‘fade to grey’ effect at its extremities.
As usual with Toshiba’s current range, there’s a love-it-or-loathe-it luminous brand logo in the centre of the TV’s bottom edge. Though please note that if you fall into the ‘loathe it’ camp, you can turn the illumination off.
The 55SV685DB is pretty much as well connected as you would hope for a TV that is, after all, comfortably Toshiba’s flagship model. Highlights include four HDMIs (three to the rear, one down the side), a USB port able to play DivX video, JPEG photo and MP3 audio files, an SD slot able to play JPEGs, and an Ethernet port for streaming stuff off your PC. It’s a touch disappointing that such a highly specified TV doesn’t also let you go ‘online’ via the Ethernet port, but there you go. Maybe Toshiba will be making some moves in that direction with its upcoming new generation of LCD TVs.