Dreaming big? If you want a large TV, you're most likely to think plasma, as they're generally cheaper than LCDs for the upper screen sizes. Toshiba would like to burst this bubble, as it doesn't make plasma TVs.
Instead, it has produced this massive Regza 52Z3030D, a 52-inch LCD TV with its high-end Z series LCD panel. What's more, if 52 inches doesn't satisfy your need for largess, it also comes in a 57-inch version. So can this £1,500 Tosh talk you into getting an LCD instead of a plasma?
For something so large, the Toshiba is surprisingly elegant. Finished in the usual reflective black plastic that is ubiquitous on TVs these days, it manages to look really smart. The only forseeable problem is its domination of any room in your humble abode. If you live in a house with high ceilings, you'll probably get away with it; try putting it in a little country cottage and it will take up the whole room.
We'll let you decide if it's too big for your place, but we'll warn you that with the stand included, this TV is 1,278 by 845 by 425mm. Get your tape measure out now, because you're going to want to be sure it will fit.
As you would expect, the Toshiba has all the inputs you're likely to need, including three HDMI sockets, a pair of Scart sockets and component, VGA and composite video in. Although these are ample offerings, we think Toshiba could have included an extra HDMI input, given that this TV is likely to be used by home cinema enthusiasts -- those with plenty of equipment to hook up.
The remote control is the same as the one that comes with all of Toshiba's recent TVs. It's slender, easy to hold and does a great job of commanding the TV. The buttons are reasonably easy to press and are located in a logical places. We would like to see Toshiba adding a backlight to its remotes, as it makes using them in darkened rooms easier.
Like so many LCD TVs, the 52Z3030D has to employ some fairly clever technologies to get blacks looking deep and rich. The Toshiba has a dynamic backlight system that is supposed to reduce the brightness of the light when the TV is displaying a picture with lots of dark areas. Generally, we turn this feature off. It can be distracting, mainly because during some scenes, the TV will suddenly decide to reduce the backlight, which means the picture will suddenly get noticeably dimmer. If you're trying to get better black levels, you'll have more luck just turning the backlight level down.
Because this TV is part of Toshiba's Z series, it has all the high-end picture processing, including 120Hz mode and 5:5 pulldown, a method of making motion appear less jerky, but without ruining the cinematic effect of a movie. With 5:5 pulldown, each frame of film -- there are 24 a second -- is shown five times.
HDMI CEC -- the system that allows you to control a DVD or Blu-ray player from the TV remote over the HDMI link -- is present and correct. We tried it out with two players -- a Sony BDP-S500 and a Toshiba HD-EP35 -- and discovered that while the TV was able to see the Sony player, controlling it from the remote wasn't possible. The HD DVD player, on the other hand, presented no such problems and controlling all of its main functions worked brilliantly. Looks like some work needs to be done improving compatibility with other brands here.