Toshiba 42WLT66 £2000

1st Nov 2006 | 00:00

Toshiba 42WLT66

You get what you you pay for

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

Good at hi-def, but problems with blacks and standard-def pics count against it

Like:

<p>Hi-def performance is good</p><p>Lower cost than similar models</p>

Dislike:

<p>Poor black levels</p>

As one of the more expensive units out there, you'd expect Toshiba's attractive 42WLT66 to be packing something rather special. And so it is: a high native pixel count of 1,920 x 1080. This matters for two main reasons. First, the extra pixel density has the potential to deliver more subtle picture nuances, such as smoother colour blends and more natural edges

Second, by matching pixel for pixel the native resolution of 1080i high definition signals - the format broadcast by Sky HD - a 1,920 x 1,080 TV can 'map ' 1080i signals on to its screen without the mess-inducing image scaling required by lower resolution screens.

As befits such a forward-thinking TV, its connections highlights include two HDMIs, a PC connection, component video inputs, and CAM slots that flag up the presence of a digital tuner. Other key specifications include a claimed contrast ratio of 800:1 and Toshiba's Active Vision image processing for working magic on detail levels, colours and contrast.

Fed our Spider-Man 2 Sky HD test movie - broadcast at 1,920 x 1,080 - the 42WLT66 quickly delivers the promise of its high native resolution. For starters, the sharpness and detail in external shots of New York's buildings, for instance, is stunning.

Cleaning up

It's also noticeable how clean the picture looks, even during 'rough' scenes, such as those in Peter's dingy apartment. This noiselessness could be down to the 42WLT66 not needing to downscale the Sky HD picture. Another strength is the extreme colour intensity, helping the reds of Spidey's suit look vibrant.

Concerns about the 800:1 contrast ratio prove less founded than we'd feared. The night skies of the scene where Peter tries in vain to get to Mary's play look convincingly deep and reasonably replete with scale-giving greyscale subtleties.

While the 42WLT66 might be a outstanding HD performer, though, it's less able with standard definition: colours become less natural and detail levels drop off dramatically. Minor problems that affect SD and HD alike, meanwhile, include motion smearing and a gently blue undertone to black levels that can slightly upset dark scenes.

The 42WLT66 is also a more than capable sound performer. There's a precise and widespread soundstage, and voices always remain clear and smooth. More bass and treble extension would have sealed the deal, but this is still a superior attempt.

Overall, although no friend to standard-def, the 42WLT66's hi-def prowess is considerable, provided you've got the HD sources to do it justice. It's a hugely accomplished (and affordable) partner for your next-gen TV needs.

ToshibaHDTVTVHome cinemaDigital homeHigh definition
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