Toshiba enters LED race with high-end LCDs

The SV670 series, the flagship Toshiba HDTVs announced at CES, is the company's first to include LED backlights with local dimming.

The Toshiba SV670 series is the company's first to incorporate LED backlighting. Toshiba

Samsung, Sony, LG, and Vizio offer or will offer HDTVs with LED backlights , the most effective picture quality improvement available for LCD TVs, and now Toshiba will too.

The SV670 series includes two screen sizes, the 46-inch 46SV670U and the 55-inch 55SV670U, and will be available in June (prices were not announced).

The company was quick to stipulate that the sets' LEDs employ "local dimming" technology, which can dim and turn off sections of the backlight while leaving others bright as needed. Other LED models with local dimming we've reviewed in the past, from Samsung and Sony, delivered deeper black levels and better overall picture quality than standard LCD TVs.

As with many other higher-end models announced at CES this year, the SV670 series also boasts 240Hz refresh rates--although we appreciated that the company called it a "240Hz effect" to be extra careful. Compared with 120Hz models, the company claims that 240Hz delivers smoother images with less blurring--although if our review of the Sony KDL-52XBR7 is any indication, the difference will be difficult to discern.

Like LG and Vizio, Toshiba's 240Hz sets use the scanning backlight version of 240Hz, which turns the backlight on and off very rapidly. Sony and Samsung use a different version of 240Hz, which interpolates three extra frames for every true frame. We doubt many viewers will be able to tell the difference, but we'll wait till we can compare the two 240Hz methods.

Toshiba also touts its proprietary video processing, citing 14 bit "gradation creation," and has slightly rebranded and supposedly improved the SRT standard-def upconversion seen on the 46XV545U we reviewed last year, calling it "Resolution+" and saying it will "create increased detail so everything will feel like HD" (a claim, we don't need to point out, that's difficult to credit). The company's spokesman also mentioned that Toshiba's upconversion technology will also work well to convert 1080i and 1080p material to properly scale to higher-resolution 2K and 4k panels available in the future.

Toshiba will also be among the first to incorporate Dolby Volume, an automatic volume limiter designed to level out peaks and valleys in volume. New for 2009, the company is adding an "expert" mode with user-menu gains and cuts as well as a "special backlight control." It also has a video-capable USB port, and an IR passthrough that can send your remote signals through to components in hidden in cabinets.

Finally, the company joins the ranks of LCD makers that incorporate a shiny screen, first seen on Samsung LCDs, which should improve bright room black level performance at the expense of creating more reflections. We prefer matte screen, but we understand people like shiny things.

About the author

Section Editor David Katzmaier has reviewed TVs at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

 

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