We've closely followed the changing faces of Toshiba's WLT range of LCDs with reviews of the, and now the latest 32WLT68 model. The good news is that with each new range the specification and performance keeps improving.
This is the first LCD screen to feature no less than three HDMI inputs, giving high-definition sources more options than ever -- although conventional users will have to cope with only a single RGB Scart.
Advanced processing technology and 100Hz scanning produce high-quality images with sharp definition, depth-defining contrast and cohesive movement, even with standard-definition sources -- and the sound is impressive, too.
Toshiba has moved away from earlier understated designs and gone glossy. The screen is framed by a heavily lacquered surround, supported by a stylish brushed-silver trim beneath. The dark finish enhances edge-of-screen contrast, while giving the screen a classy appearance.
The dimensions are deeper and heavier than previous models, which may deter wall-mounting options. Most people will prefer to use the attractive, concave stand that can be swivelled for more flexible positioning.
Toshiba has consistently led the way in LCD connectivity, and this is the first screen to feature three HDMI digital inputs. This means that high-definition enthusiasts can connect up to four (if you include component adaptors) HD sources at the same time without having to switch cables. With the head count of high-definition sources rising -- HDTV receivers, games consoles, HD and upscaling DVD players -- this offers intelligent future-proof progression and you can expect rival manufacturers to follow suit.
One of the HDMI inputs is positioned at the side with a set of more basic AV connections, allowing easy access for short-term devices. The other two are arranged on the underside of the rear panel, which makes them difficult to reach. There are also component inputs and two Scart terminals, although only one is RGB enabled for uncompromised performance.
PC or media centre owners can connect to the screen using a standard D-Sub terminal, but there's no dedicated PC audio input. There are, however, standard stereo connections, an optical audio output and even a specialist subwoofer output designed for Toshiba's SW1000 (£149), which can be attached to the rear.
The screen's outstanding digital connectivity means there are no prizes for guessing this is a high-definition ready LCD. The native 1,366x768-pixel resolution will display both 720p and 1080i formats, which will be used for vast majority of HD content, despite the arrival of the latest 1080p format.
There are also integrated analogue and digital Freeview tuners with a CI card slot at the rear if you want to subscribe to additional channels from TopUp TV. Freeview channels are also accompanied by a well-presented seven-day electronic programme guide (EPG) and some useful information menus.
Toshiba's latest Active Vision processing system is supported by several new technologies aimed at improving typical LCD image constraints. The 100Hz scanning system creates a smoother image by scanning incoming signals twice as many times as standard 50Hz designs. Backlight Control improves depth and contrast by analysing image brightness and adjusting the backlight accordingly to enhance black levels, especially in dark scenes. Noise levels from Freeview broadcasts are reduced using an Integrated Signal Amplifier and 10-bit processing to clean digital images.
You can choose to disable some of these systems and, although it's difficult to determine the difference they make immediately, we found that leaving them all active provides the best performance. On-screen menus are sensibly organised with a reasonable assortment of interactive settings. The 32WLT68 features only three basic preset picture modes, but comprehensive custom settings include colour management options, a black level enhancer and various noise reduction systems.
Sound options are equally inclusive with an SRS sound menu that includes surround effects, a dialogue enhancer and TruBass low frequency booster. There are also separate bass-management settings that are best used if you've decided to connect the screen to a subwoofer.
The feature count may not be as high as some rival models but it's the underlying technology that impresses most and carries the greatest effect on image quality.
If you can find this screen for around £1,000 then our advice is to reach for your credit card. At this price point, the 32WLT68 is the finest LCD we've seen from any of this season's latest ranges. Sony's impressive is still our class-leader but you'll need to dig slightly deeper into your pocket for the privilege.
There are not many screens that offer uncompromised performance irrelevant of the type of input source being used. Of course, it's all about high-definition, but analogue connected sources and even TV broadcasts carry the same highly regarded image traits.
Superb black levels instill images with striking detail and bold contrast that create almost tangible realism, which is enhanced by the natural colour balance. Movement is excellent without a trace of smearing or staggering and even with broadcast images there's virtually no interference from digital artefacts or background instability.
Sound performance is not always worth mentioning from the small, standard speakers used by flat screens. This screen, however, features a speaker system designed by audio specialists Onkyo, and the sound carries more weight and expression than typical models. The subwoofer option also means you can enjoy explosive film soundtracks without a separate surround system.
Editor's note: A previous version of this review stated that the Toshiba 32WLT68 had no picture preset modes. This has been corrected.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield