Consumers are a shallow bunch. As soon as we're presented with wonderfully thin TVs, we start complaining about how the bezel is fat and unsightly. The poor TV manufacturers have to put their new babies under the knife to shave off a few centimetres to suit our fancy.
Luckily for us, Toshiba doesn't seem to mind, and has taken its high-end Z series LCD panel and installed it into a teeny, tiny frame. Available for around £1,200, the Toshiba Regza 40ZF355D is amazing to look at, and with such a competent panel, it should perform brilliantly, too. Does it?
Every now and then, we review a product that causes a right old fuss. This week, it was the ZF355, a TV that has been due out in the UK for ages but has taken longer than usual to appear. As soon as we got it out of the box, we knew the wait had been worthwhile.
The ZF355 is very similar to the Toshiba Regza 40XF355D we reviewed a while ago -- and loved. The main difference on the ZF is the advanced picture processing, which should lead to an amazing picture quality.
The bezel is what makes this screen so visually impressive, but it's important to remember that it's not all about looks. The thin surround on this TV means that it will fit into the same sort of gap a standard 37-inch TV would take up. For homes with limited space, that's a real boon. Be aware that it's a deep TV, making it less ideal for wall mounting.
Although there's a speaker grille, the TV has a relatively unbroken front, but it's quite small and unobtrusive. There's also a large blue light, which seems to be purely decorative. You can turn it off via a menu, which we think you will probably want to do -- it's distracting.
At the back of the TV, you'll find two HDMI sockets, with a third on the right-hand side of the screen. A pair of Scarts and a single component input are also present alongside a VGA input for hooking up a PC or media centre to the TV. VGA is an increasingly odd choice on TVs, given that most computers have DVI these days. It would seem logical to provide one of those instead. Still, no matter -- VGA is still useful and very high quality.
The thing that sets the ZF355 apart from its little brother is the addition of the Active Vision M100 HD processing mode. One of the main selling points of this TV is the proper 5:5 pulldown mode. Explaining what pulldown is can be tricky, but essential if you want to get the best out of Blu-ray movies.
Pulldown is a method of repeating film frames because it's impossible to show a movie at 24 frames per second -- the flicker would be unbearable. Even cinemas use a form of pulldown where each frame is shown twice, and a shutter on the projector opens and closes quickly enough to be unnoticeable. The Toshiba aims to reduce motion problems by showing each film frame five times. The upshot is that 24p Blu-ray movies should look fantastic.
The inclusion of a 10-bit LCD panel should also greatly improve the colour reproduction of the TV, offering over a billion possible shades. This is a huge improvement over the older panels, and as impressive as it is, we're going to hazard a guess that you'd have to have the eyes of a hawk to actually notice a massive difference.