Picture quality on the ZV650U was solid, albeit not up to the standards of the best flat-panel LCDs we've tested this year. The TV's main strength was color accuracy, thanks in part to those extensive adjustments, while black level performance was a major weakness. Toshiba's 240Hz effect didn't contribute significantly one way or the other to the TV's overall performance.
Our calibration benefitted from the ZV650U's many picture settings, although we didn't have to adjust the default Movie mode as much as with previous Toshiba sets. That mode's default color temperature setting measured slightly blue but still solid for an out-of-the-box preset, although its gamma was quite a bit off at 1.71 versus an ideal of 2.2. After our tweaks, gamma was nearly perfect (2.208) and very linear from bright to dark, and the same goes for the grayscale aside from the very darkest areas, which tended toward blue, and a very slightly reddish cast in midtones. The biggest improvement over last year's Toshiba models was in primary and secondary color accuracy, which was good enough so that we didn't even use the new ColorMaster color management system. We also loved the red, green, and blue filters, which allowed us to easily confirm the Toshiba's accurate color decoding.
For our comparison we lined up two other 240Hz LCDs, the Samsung LN52B750 and the Sony KDL-52XBR9, as well as a pair of plasmas, the Panasonic TC-P46G10 and our reference Pioneer PRO-111FD. Many of our image quality tests were conducted using the "Taken" Blu-ray Disc.
Black level: The ZV650U didn't match the depth of black of any of the other displays in our comparison. Black and very dark areas, like the letterbox bars, the shadows and the black roadie cases and leather jackets in the backstage security room in Chapter 3, for example, all appeared a good deal lighter than on the other TVs. As usual, the lighter blacks made dark scenes appear less realistic and more washed-out.
We did appreciate the Toshiba's relatively good shadow detail, which resulted in natural gradations from shadow to darkness on Liam Neeson's shaded face in the backstage scene, for example. Given the set's lighter blacks, details in dark areas were as realistic as they could be.
Color accuracy: The Toshiba ZV650U excelled in this category with just a couple of exceptions. Its solid post-calibration grayscale was evident in skin tones, such as the smiling face of Kim at her birthday party and the scowl of her mom, both of which looked quite close to our reference in that well-lit scene. The grass, trees, and flowers likewise looked natural and not too garish, as did the blue sky--a marked contrast to the greenish look to blues we've seen on past Toshibas. Saturation was also very good, with plenty of pop to the bright colors at the party--although as usual, deeper blacks would have made the colors appear even richer.
During dark scenes the grayscale stayed consistent until very near black, where they turned the bluish tinge we've seen on so many LCDs. The blue cast of the ZV650U's blacks was a good deal more noticeable than that of the other LCDs' displays.
Video processing: Overall the ZV650U series didn't perform quite as well as the true 240Hz displays we've tested. Like Samsung and unlike Sony, Toshiba offers a couple of different groups of settings to control the processing. The "ClearScan 240" setting seems to affect blurring only. Turning it on enabled the antiblurring effect, while leaving it turned off reduces motion resolution, increasing apparent blurring in our test.
According to the test, however, the Toshiba didn't deliver quite as much motion resolution. With ClearScan 240 engaged, it could only resolve between 700 and 800 lines on our chart before the closely spaced lines broke up into random interference. Other 240Hz displays resolved between 900 and 1,000, whereas standard 60Hz LCDs come in around 300 to 400. The interference was not visible in program material we watched.
As usual, we found it difficult to appreciate the extra resolution in any case. Comparing the Toshiba with the Samsung, for example, with the latter's antiblur effect turned off (thus delivering the same motion resolution as a 60Hz display), a fast-moving hockey game didn't seem appreciably sharper on the Toshiba. Some viewers are more sensitive to motion blur than we are, but for us, the 240Hz's antiblur properties don't seem worth it.
The other setting is called "Film Stabilization" and it has three choices: Off, Standard, and Smooth--all three deliver identical motion resolution numbers. The difference between Off and Standard will be difficult for most viewers to discern, since neither engages that obvious smoothing effect produced by, for example, the Standard setting on the Sony and Samsung. On the Toshiba, Standard doesn't introduce dejudder; it simply allows the TV to preserve the proper cadence of 24-frame sources, namely Blu-rays with the player set to 1080p/24 output mode. In such a setup, the ZV650U series' Standard setting worked well to keep the cadence intact, removing the hitching motion seen on the Panasonic plasma, for example, as the camera flies over the deck of the Intrepid during "I Am Legend."
The only setting that does introduce the smoothing dejudder action is, well, Smooth. Set to that mode we saw more artifacts caused by dejudder, such as breakup on the tailfin of one of the planes on the carrier's deck, than on the other LCDs' Standard modes. As usual the smoothing effect made the film look more like video, and overall the Toshiba's Smooth looked about the same as Standard on the Samsung or Sony. The ZV650U series lacks an ultrasmooth, artificial-looking dejudder mode like those other TVs' Smooth and High (respectively) modes, but we didn't miss it.
The Toshiba handles video- and film-based de-interlacing well. On the film-based de-interlacing tests, however, the only way we could get the ZV650U to pass was to engage the Film stabilization mode to either Standard or Smooth. For that reason, and what we describe above, we recommend leaving the TV in Standard mode for most sources.
Uniformity: This category was a mixed bag for the Toshiba. On the plus side, in dark areas the corners and edges looked only very slightly brighter than the middle, and the difference wasn't distracting during normal watching. We did notice, on the other hand, that in shots with flat fields where the camera moved, such as the overcast skies and concrete during the airport chase from "Taken," the backlight structure was faintly visible as slightly brighter vertical bars.
From off-angle dark areas became washed-out significantly more quickly than on the other two LCDs in our comparison, although in its favor the Toshiba didn't discolor badly when seen from either side of the sweet spot right in front of the screen.
Bright lighting: For the first time Toshiba is using a glossy screen coating, similar to the one employed by Samsung, as opposed to the matte it used before. With the overhead lights on and the window shades in our test room pulled up, the ZV650U's glossy screen showed more distracting in-room reflections (such as this reviewer's light blue shirt) than the matte-screened Sony, and as a result turned in a worse bright-room performance than even the plasmas in our lineup. The one benefit of the glossy screen we've seen on the Samsung models, namely improved preservation of black levels in bright rooms, was not evident in the Toshiba's case--since its blacks were brighter than the plasmas' even under bright lights.
Standard-definition: Despite the ZV650U's Resolution+ processing, touted as an aide to standard-def processing, the set didn't perform very well in this category. It did resolve every detail of the DVD format, although we did see some interference in the highest vertical resolution area of our test pattern. The grass and stone bridge provided a good test of Resolution+; turning up the seven-position "level" control seemed to add some sharpness to the image, improving definition in the bridge, for example, but it also introduced edge enhancement. We could achieve a functionally identical effect, to our eye, by increasing the Sharpness control on any TV.
The Toshiba failed to remove many jaggies from rotating diagonal lines, and the stripes on a waving American flag also evinced jagged edges; engaging the Resolution+ processing had no effect we could discern on those jaggies. Switching on the Toshiba's digital noise reduction worked well to remove motes and noise from difficult shots of skies and sunsets, but the Auto function didn't have as much of an effect. On the other hand the Toshiba is one of the first TVs we've tested in a while to fail the test for standard-def 2:3 pull-down. The best setting we could find for this test, Film Stabilization: Standard, removed the moire from the grandstands but only for a split second.
PC: Via HDMI the Toshiba delivered excellent performance, as expected, displaying every line of a 1,920x1,080 source with no edge enhancement or overscan. Via VGA, the best wide-screen resolution the set could hit was 1,360x768, and although the image looked as good as can be expected at that mode, many other LCDs have VGA inputs that can do better.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6563/6844||Good|
|After color temp||6511/6507||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||215||Good|
|After grayscale variation||86||Good|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.632/0.331||Good|
|Color of green||0.288/0.603||Good|
|Color of blue||0.146/0.061||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Fail||Poor|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We didn't test the energy use of this size in the ZV650U series, although we did test the 47-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Toshiba 47ZV650U.