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Toshiba 52XF550 LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 July 2008
Article Index
Toshiba 52XF550 LCD HDTV
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The Downside
In the performance department, my primary concern with last year’s 52LX177 was its color. The new 52XF550 exhibited some of the same out-of-the-box color inaccuracies. The color points, especially green, were oversaturated, while the color temperature, even at the Warm setting, was somewhat cool. In chapter five of the Corpse Bride DVD (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), both the white snow and the dark sky had too much blue in them, compared with the image from my reference Epson projector and Panasonic plasma. More troublesome was the excessive amount of green in the image. It simply didn’t look right – and not just to the trained eye, as my husband commented on the issue in the first few minutes of watching this TV. The absence of precise white-balance controls means you can’t dial in a more accurate color temperature on your own; you’ll need a professional calibrator who can access the service menu. However, the blue and green drives in the color-temperature menu allowed enough adjustment to make a positive difference. Using the image from my Epson projector as a reference, I removed a lot of the green push and created more natural skin tones by lowering both the green and blue drives. As for those oversaturated color points, the ColorMaster system offered the flexibility to tailor color saturation to suit the viewer’s tastes. I eased up on the saturation of several colors to produce a color palette that was more to my liking. At the end of this effort, colors still weren’t completely accurate, but they were definitely rich and engaging.

On the ergonomic front, I encountered some minor HDMI handshake issues when using a longer 20-foot HDMI cable, but had no trouble with shorter cables. At times, when the 52XF550 was powered up and connected to my A/V system, I found myself unable to control my DirecTV HR-21 HD DVR, regardless of whether I used the DirecTV IR remote or my Monster RF universal remote. At first, I thought the REGZA-Link HDMI-CEC function, which is enabled by default, was sending its own control commands that were interfering with my system. However, the problem remained when I turned off REGZA-Link – and it remained when I switched to the TV’s component video inputs. The 52XF550 didn’t interfere with control of any other device in my system, and the set-top box interference was intermittent, but it certainly affected my enjoyment of the TV-watching experience when it occurred. Admittedly, this issue could be confined to my review sample or caused by my A/V system, but I’ve never encountered this kind of problem before.

As with last year’s 52LX177, Toshiba’s new 52XF550 has the price and performance to give the other big-name contenders in this market a run for their money. Its good black level, light output, detail and processing combine to produce a very attractive HD image and a solid SD image to boot. While it isn’t flawless, Toshiba’s 120Hz implementation effectively reduces motion blur and film judder. I like the decision to separate ClearFrame and Film Stabilization, as this allows you to better tailor the effects to your liking. The 52XF550’s color issue requires some attention, either by a professional calibrator or a patient end user, but the payoff can be striking. If you’re in the market for a 120Hz display, the 52XF550 belongs on your list of must-demo products.

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