Probably the next most significant feature of the 42XV505DB is its Active Vision LCD processing system. This proprietary Toshiba engine has inevitably undergone a tweak or two since its appearance on Tosh’s previous LCD generation, so hopefully we should enjoy even more improvements in its four key focus areas of colour, motion handling, contrast and detail.
While we’re on the subject of image processing, though, I think it’s worthwhile pointing out a couple of things the 42XV505DB does NOT have, namely 100Hz for making LCD motion look clearer and Toshiba’s 5:5 pulldown system for enhanced playback of Blu-ray 1080p/24 sources. For these potentially very handy features you’ll have to get one of Toshiba’s current Z series models or imminent ZF models.
In keeping with pretty much every TV now, in these ‘green’ times, the 42XV505DB has a built-in light sensor it can use to dim the backlight’s output and thus save power when it detects your room growing darker.
Personally, I’d rather calibrate the picture myself than have any automatic circuitry doing it for me, but I guess I shouldn’t knock a feature which really might save a tiny bit of electricity for ‘normal’ users not as obsessed with picture tweaking as I am!
Heading into the 42XV505DB’s rather dated-looking onscreen menus, options of interest include the facility to turn the Active Backlight Control system off if its continual brightness adjustments upset you; multi-level MPEG noise reduction; 3D Colour Management enabling you to tweak colours on a micro level to your heart’s content; and a Black/White level adjustment that apparently makes dark areas look richer.
With Toshiba’s past inconsistencies still in my mind, I settled down to test the 42XV505DB with more than a little trepidation. Would this TV be a case of ‘good Toshiba’ or ‘bad Toshiba’?!
Typically the answer probably lies somewhere in between. Which is to say that its pictures are certainly no horror show, nor are they anything truly exciting or outstanding.
Starting with the good points, the 42XV505DB’s black levels certainly hit more convincing depths than those of its predecessor, portraying the night scenes of ”I Am Legend” with relatively little of LCD’s still-common greyness. As a result, really dark scenes, like the one where Will Smith’s character heads for the pier at night to mow down some pesky mutants in his car, enjoy more depth and are require less squinting to make out what’s going on.
Detail levels in HD images are generally high too, and HD pictures are pleasingly free of grain and dot crawl. The 42XV505DB is better at upscaling standard definition than its predecessor too, with less of the old noise and colour tone problems. Colours can be vibrant and motion doesn’t blur too badly for a set that doesn’t boast 100Hz processing (or anything really similar).
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