A four-centimetre dark grey bezel and a thin silver edging surround Toshiba's modest 27-inch (68cm) LCD. The company's logo is placed non-distractingly at the bottom of the screen beside a flat strip of status LEDs, while controls are hidden at the top of the unit. Unlike the recently reviewed Sanyo LCD27XR1, Toshiba puts the 27WL55's speakers on the bottom edge, which keeps the overall width of the television down to about 69cm. This arrangement makes it easier to fit the set into home entertainment cabinets that aren't designed for wide screens, and the placement of the speakers at the bottom makes the set look more like a conventional square TV -- even though the display has a wide aspect ratio and is only 11cm thick (not including the stand).
Weighing in at a svelte 12.5kg, the 27WL55 should pose no trouble if you choose to wall mount it (kit sold separately). Toshiba includes a table-top stand with the set that disappointingly rotates only 15 degrees to the left or right, and unlike the Hitachi 42PD8800TA, you'll have to swivel the screen around yourself -- no remote control motorised base here.
Connections are housed on the right side of the display, hidden away neatly thanks to two clip-on panels that route the cables through a single exit point at the bottom of the television. A single A/V port is available for ad-hoc connections, such as plugging in a digital camera to watch a slideshow, playing back footage from a camcorder or hooking up a games console.
The remote control is a rather large 39-button array that's spread out in a relatively intuitive fashion. It features a switch at the side to swap between controls for the TV, VCR and DVD, but we found these didn't work with components of other brands.
The biggest set back with the Toshiba 27WL55 is its lack of digital connections. While the 58 series includes dual HDMI connectors, there are only two component and a composite input on this model, meaning users will have to rely on using lower quality analog signals. Audio fares no better as there are no digital or optical audio ports, only two stereo analog inputs. The TV also has a VGA connection and audio input for connecting a PC or laptop to the TV.
Dimensional Reality is the image-enhancement marketing term Toshiba has coined for its latest LCDs. According to the company, this built-in technology analyses an incoming signal and adjusts colour, contrast and brightness of each pixel to reproduce subjects and backgrounds with better depth.
Chroma Bug Correction and Optimal Luma Enhancement are the features touted by Toshiba to smooth jagged edges in highly saturated scenes and reduce artifical outlines along the edges of pictures. MPEG Noise Reduction is a user-adjustable feature that controls the level of compensation for blocky artifacts in MPEG sources such as DVDs and VCDs. SRS WOW surround sound effects can also be switched on to provide a more theatre-like experience from the Toshiba's rather close stereo speakers.
For our tests, we hooked the 27WL55 up to a Toshiba HD-C26H HD set-top box and used various reference patterns from Digital Video Essentials, a useful DVD to calibrate any TV. For optimal picture performance, we found it necessary to slightly increase the manufacturer set brightness level up to 57. On its default setting, we found the 27WL55 didn't maintain black levels very well -- meaning that the "colour" black got darker and lighter depending on the overall brightness of the onscreen picture. Thankfully, this can be can be switched off through the Black Stretch option in the menu. Overscanning was apparent in some of the aspect ratio modes, cropping up to seven percent of the image in the case of Wide screen mode, a mode that ideally should display every pixel of a 16:9 source. Skin tones were accurately reproduced in our tests and overall we found the colour levels to be close to perfect.
Toshiba, in conjunction with its Australian distributor Castel Electronics, provides a five year warranty on parts and labour for LCD televisions 23 inches (58cm) and above purchased in 2006 (but only a one year warranty for the remote control).
Toshiba's 55 series also includes a 23-inch (AU$2,199), 32-inch (AU$3,199), 37-inch (AU$4,299) and 55-inch (AU$5,499) model.