The latest addition to the Toshiba HDTV lineup is the Regza Super Narrow bezel LCD TV, which we were already able to check out momentarily at this year's CEDIA. While we love to talk about how great a TV looks, to most, picture quality is not the most important aspect when choosing a new set. Some people are very attached to their furniture, so the maximum width of the TV can be more important than anything else. After all, who doesn't want to get the biggest HDTV they can fit in that nice cherry armoire; for these people, Toshiba's latest HDTV is just what they are looking for. But even if you aren't trying to buy a TV that fits your existing furniture, there is something pleasantly enigmatic about a TV that almost appears to be a screen floating on a wall -- albeit a few inches from it.
Holy thin bezel! Seriously, this thing is thin, we tried our best to capture it in a photo, but it's something you have to see. Some have actually commented that it was too thin, although we're not sure that we agree that's even possible.
The Super Thin Bezel Regza isn't super thin in every category though, in fact it's the opposite from front to back, but most won't ever notice unless they're going for the up against the wall look.
Out of the box, the stand isn't installed, but it's easy enough to use the supplied Allen key to fasten it on to the bottom. The remote is sufficient enough, but then again, maybe we're just used to the el cheapo remotes that come with the HD DVD players these days. Frankly, the unit is nice and wide and the buttons are well placed, and while we would've preferred if it were backlit, we realize you can't have everything.
While the set includes a nice array of inputs, we weren't impressed. The biggest omission is the lack of HD input on the side for a camcorder etc, and there's no RS-232 port for a home automation control. We were glad they included an IR out, which can come in handy for hiding components in a cabinet without an additional IR repeater setup, but question why it only has one RF input for cable and ANT.
We're also not sure why they decided to call the component inputs "Color Stream." Continuing with the latest trend we hate to see, is the lack of CableCARD, but with the current state of two-way we can't say we miss it that much.
Setup was a cinch and the menu's were easy to navigate, they also did a pretty good job of not trying to get fancy with the features names and instead went with names that actually make sense. Switching inputs is pretty easy, but we'd rather they included discrete buttons on the remote instead of a single input button that toggles; at least the menu that pops up when you hit the button shows numbers so you can direct dial the OTA tuner for example by hitting input then zero.
The channel and input labels were pretty slick, in that they included obvious presets like ABC for channels and cable or HD DVD for inputs -- interestingly Blu-ray wasn't an option, but you can type it in yourself. Out favorite feature was the Fav Browser, it was super easy to put in five of our favorite channels or inputs for easy access. Another feature we haven't seen before -- that all TVs should have -- is half mute, which lets you quickly turn the volume down without completely muting it.
The HDMI CEC was fantastic when controlling a Toshiba HD-A30, but not so much with a Samsung BD-P1200. While almost everything works out of the box with the A30, the 1200 was limited to a few transport controls, directional pad, in movie menu and power -- so yeah, most of it worked.
The internal tuner had no problem finding all of our clear QAM channels, not adding the scrambled ones. It also correctly identifying them and assigned them to where we expected them to be, but man it took a long time. The ASTC tuner sensitivity was good and indicated the signal strength that we've come to expect with our antenna.
The display was useful, but we wish it showed more information, basically all you get is resolution, no frame rate, no color depth.
Overall the biggest problem we had with the set was the sync time. You see, we find that most TVs have better video processors than a cable or satellite STB, so we prefer to let the TV do the conversion from 720p to 1080p. The problem is that when switching channels it takes about three seconds to rescan when you switch from a 720p channel to a 1080i channel. This is much longer than most TVs we test (less than 1 second) and can be really annoying when switching between Fox and CBS over and over again on Sundays.
Picture and Sound Quality
The picture and sound quality met our expectations for an LCD, a technology that's come a long way in the past few years. Like most LCDs, this one also has a few bright corners, but luckily they are only noticeable when the entire screen goes black -- which really doesn't happen much with there's actual video on the screen. We aren't over inundated with test equipment here, but the HQV video processor tests were passed; in fact we didn't see any artifacts to speak of. We also didn't have any problems with judder or 24p input from either HD DVD or Blu-ray. In fact we'd say this is a great example of why you really don't need 120Hz. As usual, the dynamic mode out of the box is unwatchable, and all the modes left us with the unnatural colors and relative lack of contrast that we've come to expect from LCDs. This of course is only obvious when it's sitting right next to a Pioneer Kuro, as do most TVs.
Pros: Super Thin Bezel!, HDMI-CEC usefulness, picture quality and overall rock solid usability.
Cons: Uneven back light and slow resync between resolutions.
If this TV is the biggest you can fit in the space you have, it's a no brainier. We'd be surprised if this didn't satisfy even the most demanding HDTV fan, but since it's only available in 40 and 46 inches, it won't work for everyone.