If you are the type of buyer who intends to feed their high-end TV with a steady diet of high-quality HD content, then you definitely won't be disappointed with the 42Z3030D. Any Michael Bay blockbuster will give a TV a good run for its money, but his latest effort, Transformers, is a great test for any HDTV. This is probably one of the best HD DVD discs to hit the market, with near seamless integration of live action and CGI, even under the high definition magnifying glass. The bright desert scenes looked suitably bleached, but not at the detriment of detail - every grain of sand is beautifully resolved by the 42Z3030D. And the scene where Mikaela checks under Bumble Bee's hood is, quite simply, stunning!
Of course it comes as no surprise that Transformers looked amazing. I was playing the disc on a Toshiba HD-XE1 that was outputting a 1080p 24 signal. The 42Z3030D accepts a 1080p 24 signal and applies a 5:5 pull down technique. This means that you're essentially getting a 120Hz image, with each of the 24 frames repeated five times. Of course with 5:5 pull down in play, you don't need to be applying 100Hz processing, in order to create composite frames, since you've actually got real frames to play with. As such, when the 42Z3030D detects a 1080p 24Hz input, it disables the 100Hz processing, even if it is selected under the menu.
Toshiba quotes a 10,000:1 contrast ratio for the 42Z3030D, but of course this is a result of dynamic backlight technology, whereby the brightness of the backlight is determined by the scene being viewed. Although this technology can yield impressive results, it can, on occasion, be distracting, when the brightness is dropped back for a dark scene. Thankfully I wasn't able to ascertain a drop in backlight intensity while watching the 42Z3030D, but then I was also not overly impressed with the general black level performance either. The 42Z3030D tends to produce very dark grey, rather than solid blacks - although, on the plus side, you don't tend to lose detail in low light areas of a scene. Also, my review unit exhibited slight light bleed from the bottom of the screen, which was highlighted when watching a widescreen movie with the TV running its Exact Scan 1:1 pixel mapped setting. Again, this problem didn't seem quite as bad on the replacement unit though.
When it comes to connectivity the 42Z3030D doesn't disappoint. You get three HDMI 1.3 ports for digital HD sources. I usually mention that the HDMI 1.3 standard supports the Deep Colour, high bit depth feature that will hopefully appear on discs in the not too distant future, but this is the first TV I've seen that actually has a Deep Colour setting under the menu. Interestingly, there's also an xvYCC setting under the menu, for enabling an extended colour gamut - this is somewhat surprising, since the xvYCC colour space usually requires LED backlighting technology, whereas this TV uses the more common cold cathode light source.