In addition to making excellent rear-projection TVs, Toshiba offers a large selection of LCD flat panels. Most of the current models are branded with the curious marketing moniker REGZA (Real Expression Guaranteed by amaZing Architecture), including the upscale Cinema Series, of which the 42-inch, 1920x1080 42LX196 is a member.
The input complement is adequate, with two HDMI, two component, one VGA, one S-video, one composite, and two RF for the built-in ATSC and QAM tuners. Also included is an Ethernet port to connect the set to a home network, allowing you to access photos and music files on a shared computer. A CableCARD slot is supplemented with the free TV Guide On Screen electronic program guide to compensate for that technology’s incompatibility with the cable provider’s EPG. The set cannot accept 1080p signals via HDMI.
All REGZA LCD TVs provide PixelPure Hi-Bit video processing with 12- bit resolution instead of the more common 8 or 10 bits to achieve smoother gradations and transitions as well as better noise reduction. The processor’s internal calculations use up to 14 bits to reduce rounding errors. Other processing functions include sharpness and gamma control.
The CineSpeed LCD panel boasts a response time of 8ms or less, leading to virtually no visible motion lag. Also available is Native mode, which maps 1920x1080 images onto the panel’s pixels in a 1:1 correspondence. Like most manufacturers, Toshiba claims a viewing angle of 176 degrees, but I certainly wouldn’t want to watch this set at that angle; in fact, the effective viewing angle of this particular set is relatively narrow, with a sharp drop in contrast at more than about 30 or 40 degrees from the center.
The step-up Cinema Series provides several enhancements, such as Color- Master color management, which lets you set the hue, saturation, and brightness of the three primary and three secondary colors.Interestingly, TVP video specialist David Abrams was able to bring the secondaries closer to the SMPTE standards using this feature, but not the primaries for some unknown reason.
The remote is a fairly long design with the ability to control up to five devices other than the TV. It’s fully illuminated, and all the buttons have labels printed directly on them, so they can be seen when the backlight is on. However, a few have more than one function, and the secondary labels are printed on the remote body, which means they can’t be seen in the dark in any case. The button layout is fairly logical, and the buttons are mostly large and well separated, though there are a few elongated “double” buttons around the cursor control (push one end for one thing, the other end for something else), which is a bit cluttered and confusing. Unfortunately, this is yet another TV remote with an Input button instead of dedicated sourceselection buttons.
The good news is that the Input button calls up a list of the numbered inputs that you can select directly by pressing the corresponding number button, which is better than having to scroll through the inputs. Still, I’d much prefer to have direct input-access buttons rather than a universal remote with dedicated device-selection buttons like this one.
much better ones on the market than those that come with TVs. Instead, manufacturers should dedicate the TV’s remote to the TV and provide direct input-access buttons. This would make the remotes much easier to understand and operate. The menu system is simple and direct, with six main sections. Each time you enter the menu system, the section you were last in is the one that comes up, which is great. When you select a picture control to adjust, most of the menu disappears and the control moves near the bottom of the screen. However, it appears above the horizontal legend (indicating which buttons do what) that remains on the screen, obscuring more of the image than necessary. Also, if you adjust the picture controls from their preset values in any picture mode, the mode changes to Preference, which could be confusing.
As usual, the 42LX196 was way too bright and blue out of the box, with clipped whites and a measured color temperature of
15,000K. David Abrams was able to bring it into line, though the peak white level was significantly reduced because he decreased the backlight level to achieve the best possible black level. Even so, the black level measured fairly high, leading to a lower-than-normal peak contrast ratio (see “Measurements”). Another problem with the out-of-box condition was severe ringing around sharp edges. Turning off the Vertical Edge Enhancement control and reducing the Sharpness control took care of this. Another “enhancement” I turned off was Dynamic Contrast; I normally prefer a constant black and white level.