There’s also an optical audio output for passing through your HDMI audio to an external amp or receiver, while a dedicated subwoofer output allows you to add some extra bass effects to the TV’s sound without the need to invest in a whole external sound system. There’s a headphone socket in case you’re watching late at night and don’t want to wake up the family, while the CI slot will allow you to add premium channels to the buit-in Freeview tuner.
As I’ve already mentioned, the problem with the 40XF355D is that its picture quality simply couldn’t live up to its aesthetics. Thankfully, Toshiba has addressed this issue, and the 40ZF355D marks a significant improvement over its predecessor. The improved black level response is apparent both in dark scenes and those with vibrant colours. Firing up Blood Diamond on Blu-ray, pumping out at 1080p 24Hz showed just how much better this TV is than the previous model. The night time scenes looked genuinely convincing, with blacks that look black, rather than the pale grey that the 40XF355D managed – this is aided by the fact that there’s no discernable backlight bleed, leaving the bars accompanying any 2.35:1 movie dark enough not to distract the viewer. The daylight scenes in Blood Diamond were just as impressive, with a bright and vivid palette of colours painting the African jungle, giving it a real sense of life.
A more difficult test for any TV is the Blu-ray disc of The Crow. Not only is this one of the darkest and shadowy movies ever shot, but the MPEG 2 encode on Blu-ray is far from the best example of the format. Here the 40ZF355D took a bit of calibrating to get the best picture – there’s a fine balance between bringing out all the detail in the scene and making the overall image grey rather than black. Once I’d spent a bit of time tweaking the 40ZF355D is gave a pretty good account of itself while Eric Draven dished out his revenge on the thugs who murdered his fiancé. Given, the two year old Panasonic plasma that I have at home still does a better job with this type of material, but that’s to be expected, and by LCD standards this Toshiba can hold its head high.
Hooking up an Xbox 360 and sliding Gears of War into the drive confirmed the 40ZF355D’s improvement over its predecessor, striking a good balance of strong blacks without too much loss of detail in darker areas. Like watching The Crow, playing Gears of War is a tough test for any TV, with most of the game set in semi-darkness, but the 40ZF355D managed to maintain the tight, claustrophobic atmosphere thanks to very little greying over of the picture.
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