Starting with the HQV Benchmark DVD, detail was good, but low-angle diagonals were not, with significant jaggies. The waving flag exhibited a few jaggies, but not as many as I would have thought given the performance on the low-angle diagonals test. Neither the Cable-Clear (digital noise reduction) nor MPEG NR controls did much to clean up noise, but they did soften the picture slightly. Even with these controls turned off, noise wasn’t much of a problem anyway. It took more than a second to pick up 3:2 pulldown, which is pretty slow.
The same was true of the 1080i 3:2 test. Using the Native aspect ratio (1:1 mode), the set exhibited no overscanning, and the highest-frequency bursts (both vertical and horizontal) were clearly visible, though perhaps a bit rolled off.
Moving on to DVDs, the color was quite good on Star Trek: Insurrection, with natural flesh tones and green foliage. The detail was also very good. The shadow detail in the duck-blind observation post was not as good, however, and the relatively high black level was evident in outer-space shots, which were not deep or inky. Also, the black letterbox bars were difficult to ignore. Bright outdoor scenes looked great, but dark scenes looked a bit washed out and dull.
The same was true of The Mask of Zorro: excellent detail in the crowd scene at the beginning and good color throughout. There was a little contouring in the blue backlight that opens the movie, but it wasn’t bad. As expected, the detail
on HD DVDs such as Phantom of the Opera was excellent: the ornate stage, the audience, the diamonds in Christine’s jewelry, the entire Masquerade scene all looked sharp and crisp. Color was likewise superb, with rich golds and reds and natural flesh tones. The shadow detail during the first descent into the Phantom’s underground lair was not great, looking slightly veiled.
The Chronicles of Riddick confirmed these observations, with superb color and detail, and there was no contouring in the ultraviolet sun near the beginning or the sunrise on Crematoria. The black of space was not convincing, and the low-light prison scenes were slightly dingy.
Toshiba has come a long way in its pursuit of LCD perfection, and the REGZA Cinema Series has a lot to recommend it. The 42LX196 produces beautifully detailed images and excellent color, but the black level is higher than many other LCDs I’ve looked at. Shadow detail could be better, but despite my comments above, it’s not nearly as bad as many other LCDs in my experience. All in all, it’s a worthy contender for your consideration if you’re in the market for an LCD flat panel. TPV