These days, we often praise Toshiba TVs for their low price. But, with the Regza 46SV685DB, the company has leapt from one extreme to the other. This 46-inch, 1080p LCD TV costs about £2,500. Why is it so expensive, you ask? Because it's Toshiba's first TV with LED backlighting.
Pretty but portly
As with most, if not all, LED-backlit TVs to date, the 46SV685DB sports a rather portly profile, measuring about 10cm thick. That rather untrendy size looks even more exaggerated if you compare the 46SV685DB to the wafer-thin, LED-edge-lit Samsung UE55B7020WW that we recently reviewed.
But the 46SV685DB isn't an unattractive TV from the front, thanks to its glass-like finish and 'deep lagoon' design. Apparently, the full crystal panel sitting flush over the TV's front improves contrast and colour, as well as making the set look flasher.
Among the 46SV685DB's connections are four HDMI ports, a USB socket capable of playing JPEG, DivX and MP3 files, an SD card slot for playing back photos taken on SD-compatible cameras, an optical digital audio output, and an Ethernet port for accessing files stored on the hard drive of a DLNA-certified PC. There's no online functionality available via the Ethernet port, though.
Because the 46SV685DB uses LED backlighting (the LEDs are positioned directly behind the screen) it can use local-dimming technology, whereby each of the screen's 128 LED arrays can be controlled individually. This means the screen can turn off the LEDs in dark parts of the picture at the same time as the LEDs in bright parts are left on. In other words, local dimming enables the 46SV685DB to produce pictures of a dynamism that ordinary LCD TVs, with their single light sources, just can't compete with.
But Sharp's recently tested Aquos LE600 and LE700 TVs also offer LED backlighting and local dimming, while being considerable cheaper than the 46SV685DB. Hmm. Maybe the 46SV685DB uses the relatively expensive but supposedly superior RGB-dimming technology, rather than Sharp's white-dimming approach? Toshiba doesn't say.
It's just as well, then, that the 46SV685DB has a few interesting features up its sleeve. For instance, there's Toshiba's Meta Brain processing engine. This combines the brand's Active Vision 'multi-purpose' video-processing technology -- including a 200Hz processing engine -- with Resolution+, which aims to deliver improved upscaling of standard-definition pictures to the screen's 1080p resolution.
Tucked within the 46SV685DB's on-screen menus are such features as a sliding gamma-adjustment bar, a convenient black/white balance slider, a flexible colour-management system (complete with the option to switch off the red, green and blue colour components individually), and MPEG and standard noise-reduction systems. You can also turn the 200Hz engine off.
It's quite a relief to find that the TV provides so many picture adjustments, since it took a fair amount of calibration before we could get the best out of this set. But, once you get the settings right, the 46SV685DB's best performance is extremely good.
Particularly mesmerising is the set's black-level response. The local-dimming technology helps produce dark scenes with a depth and naturalism that no ordinary LCD TV can match. The 46SV685DB also manages to largely overcome a common flaw of LED-backlit TVs by displaying plenty of subtle detail in dark areas.