CONTRAST could be run at maximum without crushing whites, but I usually chose 60–70 in a darkened room. The ideal setting of the BRIGHTNESS control (black level) varied somewhat between inputs and scan rates, so you’ll have to spend some time setting this critical control correctly in your particular system. Using the component inputs in my system, for example, 480i sources required a setting of 44 while 1080i sources needed 60.
COLOR looked best at 42, slightly less than the default of 50. SHARPNESS had to be reduced to 0 to eliminate visible edge enhancement on test patterns, but its effect was fairly subtle and even the default setting of 50 (or sometimes higher) wasn’t usually objectionable, especially on HD. No other enhancements are provided. The WARM color-temperature setting was the only one even in the ballpark. I didn’t usually like DYNAMIC CONTRAST, which, it must be noted, is turned on by default in all but the MOVIE mode. Sets with good blacks don’t need them crushed.
When properly adjusted, the 62HM195 looks impressive. It’s bright and surprisingly sharp and clean, but the dark blacks really make it stand out. Some DLP front projectors have had good blacks for years now, but not rear-projection sets—until this one. Credit for this must go to Toshiba’s Xtreme BLAC dynamic iris that automatically “stops down” the light output during dark scenes. This also greatly reduces the inherent light leakage from the DLP engine. It’s the first automatic iris I’ve seen in a DLP rear-projection display. There is no user control for this feature, but I liked Toshiba’s default execution of it. The contribution that dark blacks make to the picture cannot be overstressed. Darkscene detail was not quite as good as the Sony SXRD, but side-by-side comparisons were required to reliably verify it.
As delivered, color rendition certainly isn’t bad (with the WARM color-temp preset), but it’s even better once the bluish grayscale is calibrated (see “Technical Evaluation” sidebar). Excess blue in the blackand- white picture always tends to rob a bit of color punch and accuracy, particularly when the program material’s color isn’t very saturated to begin with.
From the built-in ATSC tuner or my DISH 942 satellite receiver/DVR, HD viewing (particularly 1080i) was excellent via HDMI or even component video and only a notch behind the Sony in subjective detail and dimensionality. DVD performance (480p) was very good, but it lacked that last bit of crispness, which would have put it into the excellent category. False contouring in the difficult anglerfish scene from Finding Nemo was present, but never excessive. Darker movies looked best with the bulb set to LOW and CONTRAST raised to 75–80.
The biggest viewing weakness I found was a blurriness when displaying poor-quality satellite or cable channels from an external box using a 480i scan rate. Don’t expect much from an older set-top box.
In most respects, the 62HM195 is better than any RPTV you could buy last year (except, perhaps, the $13,000 Sony Qualia 006). Its picture is bright, clean, colorful, and full of impact. But it’s the deep blacks that make this set look good on more than just Monday Night Football. I can easily recommend it for a dark home theater and the darkest films you can find. Combine a picture that’s hard to fault with simplified operation, a full set of useful features, and a bargain price ($3699), and you get a very desirable, highly recommended HDTV. Its picture isn’t quite as pristine as the new $5000 Sony, but with good program material, few would ever notice.