Toshiba 40E220U review:

Medium thrills, small budget

Despite color reproduction measuring fairly poorly, this area was a plus to my eyes, with a vivid, yet natural color palette. Video processing is average -- good in some areas and not so in others -- but motion performance is noticeably crisper than seen on its peers.

Bright-room performance is fine, but in the dark some spotlight problems in the corners spoil what is otherwise a good picture.

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

Comparison models (details)
LG 47SL4600 47-inch LCD
LG 42CS560 42-inch LCD
TCL L40FHDP60 40-inch LCD
Samsung LN46D630 46-inch LCD
Samsung LN46E550F 46-inch LCD
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference) 65-inch plasma

Black level: At the top of the list of things Toshiba's budget LCDs can do well is black level. Like the smaller 32C120U, the 40E220U can conjure up believable levels of contrast for the money. When compared with the more expensive Samsung LN46E550F, the two TVs went blow-for-blow depending on the scene, but the Toshiba usually won on the "black bars" test.

The Toshiba was the best of the whole room of seven TVs in our "Romulan flyby" test ("Star Trek," 28:18). The menacing ship had a combination of depth, contrast, and a smidgeon of color as it cruised past the screen. The 40E220U was better at illuminating the intricate details contained in the darkness than last year's budget favorite, the Samsung LN46D630.

Yet, while the TV demonstrated good shadow detail in that scene, its rival Samsung LN46E550F was better in the very next scene (with Nero lying on a table). On occasions such as this, the Toshiba demonstrated a tendency to lightly crush black levels compared with the other TVs in the lineup.

Color accuracy: During my tests I found that the television's color response was superficially similar to that of the Samsung LN46D630 -- a model we praised last year for good color saturation and accuracy. Despite the lack of sophisticated controls, the 40E220U was capable of highly saturated colors with redder tones than you would expect for a higher-than-normal color temperature. The Toshiba's skin tones were a little redder than the others in the test, but not too ruddy and a close match to those on the earlier Samsung.

Only in secondary colors did the TV visibly falter, with an overly blue cyan making the TV look colder than our other models with blue-cast movies like "Avatar."

Video processing: The Toshiba and Samsung sat side by side during our tests, and the Toshiba stood out due to a cleaner, more detailed picture. This wasn't a Sharpness control issue; the Toshiba is simply more detailed than the Samsung, displaying nothing of the softness its competitor has. For example, the fight scene in the opening of "Batman Begins" was crisp, with the Toshiba doing its best to follow the rapid camera movements, while on the Samsung it was hazy and even more confused.

As far as supporting the competitor Blu-ray format, the TV passed the 24p flyby test with a smooth rendering of the U.S.S. Intrepid ("I Am Legend," 24:58). But the TV didn't do as well in our other test, failing to render 1080i film correctly, with significant judder and moire effects.

Uniformity: Another obvious difference between the two best TVs in the lineup -- the Samsung LN46E550F and the Toshiba 40E220U being reviewed here -- was in uniformity. While the Samsung had very good uniformity, the Toshiba's Achilles' heel was the noticeable flashlighting in the top corners.

My CNET colleague David Katzmaier criticized the Toshiba 32C120U for its poor off-angle viewing, and in the absence of that TV for comparison I can only assume the 40E220U is very similar. The thing is that it looks great off-angle compared with the two LG televisions I tested, which have woeful performance in that way.

Bright lighting: The 40E220U has a matte screen finish, which means it is quite suited for watching in a lit room. The dynamic range of the picture does compact a little --as is true for most TVs in this environment -- but the uniformity problems are also less noticeable.

Read more about how we test TVs.

Geek Box: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0099 Average
Avg. gamma 2.1446 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.308/0.3289 Good
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3179/0.3399 Poor
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3047/0.3196 Poor
Before avg. color temp. 7483.5486 Poor
After avg. color temp. 7182.5156 Poor
Red lum. error (de94_L) 3.4737 Poor
Green lum. error (de94_L) 5.0354 Poor
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 5.1968 Poor
Cyan hue x/y 0.2093/0.291 Poor
Magenta hue x/y 0.335/0.1575 Average
Yellow hue x/y 0.4153/0.5042 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Fail Poor
Motion resolution (max) 330 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 330 Poor

Toshiba 40E220U calibration report

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