Although the latest 1080p high-definition format is still relatively scarce and restricted to next-generation DVD players and games consoles, its arrival in entry-level LCDs is a sign of changing times.
At this price (listed at around £1,000) there are some compromises to connectivity and less advanced processing, but it's an ideal introduction if you want to explore the full potential of HD DVD and Blu-ray.
It's difficult not to feel slightly overwhelmed by the screen's imposing dimensions, which are exaggerated by a broad, piano-black surround and a substantial boomerang-shaped stand. It's certainly not inconspicuous and you'll need a large room if you don't want to live under an LCD shadow.
The screen is reasonably well assembled with a slim speaker system neatly integrated beneath the clean, glossy front panel. It looks luxurious from the front but the rear panel is cased in cut-price plastic, and the unsteady stand isn't the most supportive.
Primary controls are hidden away at the right side and can be used to adjust channels and volume or access the main menu system -- you can't tune channels without the tall, slender remote, though. There are also easy-access composite video and stereo audio inputs here, but outdated S-Video connections have been entirely ignored.
At first glance, the rear panel connections appear impressive, however the digital video connections, including two HDMI inputs, are awkwardly arranged across the underside, along with a CI Card slot and a PC input that supports WXGA signals. Elsewhere, there are two Scart terminals and progressive scan supporting component connections. Only one of the Scarts is RGB-enabled though, and another HDMI input wouldn't go amiss -- especially for a screen that seems so dedicated to high-definition.
There are several accompanying analogue audio connections and a digital audio output, as well as a rarely found subwoofer output that can be connected to an optional sub to enhance bass performance.
The screen's Full HD resolution (1,920x1,080 pixels) is compatible with all high-definition signals including the latest 1080p format used by next-generation DVD players and games consoles. Blu-ray and HD DVD movies can also be watched as they were intended using 24p scanning, which produces more realistic images without any audio distortion.
Otherwise, it's a relatively ordinary specification that includes integrated analogue and digital TV tuners supported by standard connectivity and entry-level picture processing. You'll have to spend more if you want the latest 100Hz technology and HDMI 1.3 connections featured in Toshiba's Z series models.
Freeview channels are automatically tuned the instant you turn the TV on for the first time. The opening digital menu system and overcrowded EPG are uninspired, with few frills, although they are accompanied by sound. By contrast, the crisp graphics used to present the compact setup menus appear far more attractive and attentive.
There's an extensive range of picture adjustments, which have your typical custom settings along with advanced controls for a variety of systems. These include noise reduction, black level enhancement and elaborate colour management options that even allow you to adjust the intensity of individual base colours. Not everyone is going to explore these in great detail and the differences to image quality are usually only subtle, but serious enthusiasts can fine tune to their heart's content.