Toshiba is trying to corner the market on "turns your standard-def into high-def!" hype. One recent attempt was the XD-E500 DVD player, which trumpeted funky and ultimately disappointing "XDE" video processing in attempt to lure buyers. Now there's the more elaborate "SRT Super Upconversion" moniker, which promises that "all your DVDs and TV channels will be displayed in near High Definition picture quality." According to our tests of the 46-inch 46XV545U, that's even less true than you might expect. Turning SRT on does make some standard-definition sources appear a bit sharper compared with leaving it off with this display, but at the expense of artificially enhanced images that don't look much like high-definition to us. Fortunately for its final score, the 46XV545U gets the basics mostly right.
Toshiba is not breaking any new ground with the 46XV545U's external appearance. The medium-thickness border around the frame bears glossy black color found on most flat panels these days. The thicker chunk of frame below the screen includes a silver-colored accent running the width of the panel, which fades tastefully into black along its top edge and abuts a perforated speaker grille along the bottom.
Dimensions are typical for a 46-inch LCD. Counting the nonswiveling, glossy black stand, the 46XV545U measures 43.6 inches by 29.4 inches by 12.3 inches and weighs 61.7 pounds. Remove the stand and the panel measures 43.6 inches by 27.3 inches by 3.9 inches.
Toshiba's internal menu system includes numerous nested menus and requires drilling down quite far to get to some items, but at least the arrangement is logical. That said, the sheer number of options, many of them seemingly unnecessary, adds a cumbersome level of complexity. We would have appreciated some sort of contextual explanation for menu items as well.
Like the menu, the big remote control is cluttered and difficult to comprehend at first. There are too many like-size buttons arranged in a relatively haphazard fashion. The remote can control three other pieces of gear.
Toshiba differentiates this HDTV from the competition with an array of video processing options. Like many LCDs these days, the 46XV545U is equipped with a 120Hz refresh rate along with dejudder processing. There's also the "SRT Super Upconversion" circuit designed to improve picture quality with standard-definition sources. Check out the Performance section for all the details on how these features work.
The 42RV530U has a solid selection of picture setup features considering its price. Lazy viewers may want to try the AutoView picture setting, which locks every picture parameter and adjusts the picture according to content and ambient room lighting. We left it turned off for critical viewing.
Other preset picture modes include Sports, Standard, Movie, PC, and Preference, but only the last mode is adjustable. Once you choose a mode and then make changes to any of the picture parameters, the mode automatically changes to Preference, which is fortunately independent per input. There are three selectable color temperatures: Warm, Medium, and Cool. Blue Drive and Green Drive are the only color temperature tweaks in the user menu, but they do help improve the grayscale beyond the presets.
Toshiba labels its Color Management System with the evocative title Color Master. If you turn it on and select Color Palette, you can make adjustments for all six colors. However, as with most CMS systems, we found its usefulness quite limited. It really only works to make slight improvements in the color decoding, rather than correcting the inaccurate primary and secondary color points, which is what it should do. We left it tuned off.
Under the Theater Settings menu, a setting called Cinema Mode should be set to Film for proper 2:3 pull-down detection with film-based formats like standard-definition DVDs, and some cable and satellite programming. Also, a Theater Lock feature lets you lock your settings so that no one can change them.
As expected from a 1080p HDTV, the 42RV530U offers an aspect ratio mode, dubbed Native, that's designed to show every pixel of 1080i and 1080p sources without scaling or overscan. You should use this mode unless you see interference along the extreme edges of the display.
To adjust power consumption, Toshiba includes the Retail and Home settings found on many Energy Star 3.0 compliant HDTVs, both during the initial setup phase and, unusually, as options in the setup menu. There's also a toggle between Power Save and Fast turn on that affects standby power consumption. Power Save is the default, and we don't suggest changing it just to save a couple seconds of warm-up time. Check out the Juice box for more information on the 46XV545U's power use.
Connectivity on the 46XV545U leaves little to be desired. It starts with four HDMI inputs, three on the back and another on the side, and is joined by a PC input (1,280x1,024-pixel maximum resolution), two component-video inputs, an AV input with S-Video and composite video, optical digital and analog stereo audio outputs, and another AV input with composite video on the side panel.
The overall picture quality of the Toshiba 46XV545U is relatively good, anchored by deep black levels and a dejudder mode that's less prone to artifacts than many we've seen. Color is hit or miss and uniformity is poor, however, and the SRT Upconversion won't work wonders with standard-definition material.