November 18, 2009
| by Dennis P. Barker
Last year, the LCD buzz was all about 120Hz refresh rates for smoother moving images. This year there’s 240Hz refresh rates, but the real news is that LCD TVs are going green—and improving their picture quality at the same time. Enter the brightest new TV star, LED (light emitting diode) backlighting. It’s much more energy efficient and more expensive than standard fluorescent backlighting—and it is showing up in numerous 2009 models.
There are two types of LED backlighting: edge-lit and full-array. Some sets that utilize full-array LEDs also include local dimming, which allows individual LEDs or clusters of them to turn off in dark scenes, improving black levels and detail. The only drawback is that LCD TVs using full-array LEDs are not normally ultrathin and can measure up to about 4.5 inches deep.
Toshiba’s 55SV670 uses the full array to light its a 55-inch 1080p LCD screen—and utilizes local dimming. With LED backlighting, the dynamic contrast of the SV670 is pumped up to whooping 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Other image enhancements include ClearScan 240Hz with a new backlight scanning technology for even smoother fast-moving images. The 240Hz quadruples the traditional progressive scan rate of 60Hz (or 60 frames a second) to 240Hz (or 240 frames per second).
Another eco-friendly feature called AutoView dims or brightens the screen according to ambient room lighting and the incoming video signal. Other key video enhancement features include CrystalCoat Contrast Enhancer with antireflective properties and Toshiba’s PixelPure 5G 14-bit internal digital video processor that provides improved overall detail. Audio is rated at 10 watts per channel and features Dolby Volume to keep volume levels consistent—as in no really loud commercials. There’s also Audyssey EQ.
Connection was easy and straight-forward. To calibrate this LCD set for optimal picture playback, I used a new Blu-ray test disk from Marvell entitled Qdeo HD Video Evaluation. The disc allows you evaluate the video processing of a particular TV, as well as to calibrate and correctly set contrast, brightness, black levels, color, sharpness, and gray scale among other video settings.
With all of these eco-friendly features and innovations, is the TV any good? With Toshiba’s SV670, I can fairly say that LCD technology is finally coming of age with a full array of features that enhance the overall image quality and clarity of the display.
Local dimming greatly enhances contrast and brings out detail in dark scenes.
Dennis has been involved with Consumer Electronics forever it seems. His 25+-year career includes a 12-year tour of duty at Consumer Reports magazine, as well as stints as a product reviewer, market analyst, technical editor, and consultant for the electronics industry. He lives in Ossining, NY with his two children, one demanding cat and piles of A/V equipment.