[…] be looking at a matte screen LCD, such as the Sony XBR6 series, Samsung A630 series or even the Toshiba REGZA series if you’re on a budget. You might be wondering if you should get a 1080p TV. Well, 1080p […]
While Toshiba is probably not the first name you think of when speaking of LCD HDTVs, they have a competitive lineup coupled with aggressive pricing. We looked at the 52RV535U REGZA, a 52-inch 1080p LCD. This model has a 60 Hz native frequency, so it competes with the Sony KDL-52S4100, the Samsung LN52A550 and other entry-level 1080p 52” LCDs.
Toshiba likes to go with understatement as a design philosophy, so you won’t find garish logos, tacky silver plastic addons and such here. Framed by a thin, glossy black bezel, the Toshiba isn’t all that dissimilar from Samsung designs, but to its credit, the bezel is thinner and gives it a sleeker look. The screen itself is matte, not glossy, which works better for environments that can be both bright and dark, but gives something up in black level and contrast.
The TV rests atop a rectangular, glossy black stand, which while doing the job, doesn’t swivel – a grave sin in LCD land, because LCDs are more susceptible to an image that changes with off-axis viewing.
Toshiba utilizes a very simple GUI design that is actually a little behind on functionality too. It does possess the basic features necessary to fine-tune the image, but lacks some of the more detailed controls found on, say, current Samsungs.
The remote, like the TV itself, is not flamboyant. It’s plastic, but quite solid, reminding me a little of the build quality of Japan-only units. It’s laid out fairly well, thought the buttons could be a little bigger, and backlighting is always welcome, but really, there’s not that much to complain about – especially given the price.
The 52RV535U has a native resolution of 1920×1080, the highest available, which is great. Being a 60 Hz panel, this Toshiba has to perform what is known as a 3:2 pulldown for film content. Much to my surprise, it can actually accept a 24p input and subject it to the 3:2 pulldown, so you can set your Blu-Ray player to output movies the way they were shot.
In total there are four HDMI inputs, which is as much as you’ll get anywhere, including one on the side. Two component inputs and a PC input round out the hi-def input list. Of course, at this price, features like networking cannot be expected, but the basics of connectivity are well covered.
The REGZA 52RV535U has 14-bit internal processing, and we’ll discuss how well it works in the performance section. A number of aspect-ratio controls exist, along with the ability to view a 1080i/1080p image with no overscan (also known as 1:1 pixel mapping), and a light sensor adjusts contrast and brightness according to ambient light conditions. Like pretty much every other LCD, a dynamic contrast mode exists too.
Optimally set, the 52RV535U performed about average in our dark room setting. The black level, like many other LCDs, was middling at around 0.025 ft-L, and as a result, blacks were more of a gray.
Contrast on this big REGZA was also about mid-pack, at around 1200:1. Shadow detail as a result was lacking compared to the best TVs, but at the price this sells for, I really can’t complain that much.
Color accuracy was where the 52RV535U redeemed itself, as after calibration, we were able to come very close to the 6500k standard, just like many more expensive alternatives. Saturation was a bit lacking, because of the not-so-hot black level, but overall, the image was attractive thanks to the decent primary colors.
The image processing of the 52RV535U was above average, and very good for its price class. There are very few 52” TVs that compete with it on price, and the ones that do often suffer from banding issues, artifacts and other problems. None of those issues exist here. When we looked at Knight Rider season one DVDs, the image was free of jagged edges and looked quite smooth, almost analog. High-definition of course looked great.
Panel uniformity was about average, which in its price-size class is good. As with every non-LED LCD, there was some backlight spread and clouding/mura, but it was within an acceptable margin. Viewing angles were excellent on this TV, both thanks to the performance of the panel, and the fact that the screen was matte.
This TV looked excellent in a bright environment. Reflections were absorbed, and brightness was more than adequate for a sun-filled room.
The 52RV535U worked great as a computer monitor when connected with HDMI, and decent when connected with VGA. With no overscan, it behaved just like a large computer monitor, and we had no trouble playing videos or games at the panel’s native resolution.
The Good: One of the raging bargains in the 52” class, better image quality than others in its class, four HDMI inputs, good processing.
The Bad: Compared to better HDTVs, black level, contrast and shadow detail are lacking, it’d be great to see 120 Hz, styling might be a little tame for some.
Overall: Any way you look at it, one of the best values in low-priced 52” TVs with few shortcomings.