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Having already touched on the 100Hz nature of this TV, I may as well cover that next. It's worth noting that the first TV with 100Hz processing to ever make it into the TrustedReviews lab was from Toshiba. About a year ago I reviewed the Toshiba 32WLT68, which was the first LCD TV I'd seen to incorporate 100Hz processing and it definitely made its presence felt, pretty much eliminating motion smear. Now however, 100Hz processing is common place in LCD TVs, so can Toshiba's Active Vision M100 HD processing still keep up?
When it comes to smooth motion, the 42Z3030D definitely excels, and the common loss of resolution when objects are moving across the screen on LCD screens simply isn't there on this TV. In fact, when you're watching a clean HD source, it's staggering how much detail this Toshiba manages to resolve, no matter how much movement and action there is. But superb as the 100Hz processing is when watching HD content, it brings with it a few side effects when watching an SD source.
If you're watching an SD source, such as the built-in digital tuner, the 100Hz processing does some rather unpleasant things to the picture. First and foremost are some horrible shimmering effects around edges, especially around peoples' faces on close-ups. There's also an exacerbation of the shimmering that affects parallel lines on an image, like blinds or fences. Turning off the 100Hz when watching standard definition definitely improves matters, but strangely the image quality from the integrated tuner on the 42Z3030D just doesn't seem to be as good as that seen on the lower-end 42X3030D.
Unfortunately it's not just the built-in tuner that highlights the 42Z3030D's weakness with SD content. As a side by side comparison, I fired up The Bourne Identity on both HD DVD and on standard DVD - obviously the HD DVD version looked superbly sharp, but the DVD version looked worse than I had expected it to. I found myself having to make a choice - if I left 100Hz processing on, I got far better resolution of moving subjects, especially in fast moving scenes like the awesome car chase, but I also ended up with terrible shimmering effects around edges. The other choice was to turn 100Hz off to dispel most of the shimmering, but then put up with slightly blurred moving images.
So surprised was I by the poor SD performance on the 42Z3030D that I requested another sample from Toshiba, fearing that there was actually a problem with my original TV. Firing up the new model instantly confirmed my suspicions, with SD looking far cleaner, both with and without 100Hz processing enabled. The replacement 42Z3030D even managed to produce decent images from the integrated Freeview tuner, which is notoriously difficult for any TV with a Full HD panel. Put simply, when viewing the replacement unit, all of the above issues simply weren't there.