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Toshiba 34HDX82 review: Toshiba 34HDX82

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The Good Solid progressive-scan processing with 3:2 pull-down; 34-inch, 16:9, flat picture tube; 1080i HDTV-compatible; independent memories for each input; DVI input.

The Bad Awkward user menu; color decoder pushes red.

The Bottom Line A reasonably priced, good overall performer, this HDTV misses our highest accolade by only a hair.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

Wide-screen, direct-view HDTVs are getting better while simultaneously dropping in price, and Toshiba's 34HDX82 follows this trend. This TV is a 34-inch, flat-screen model with most every feature that an HDTV fan could ask for, and it stands in direct competition with Sony's KV-34XBR800 and Panasonic's CT-34WX52. In terms of price and performance, the Toshiba falls somewhere between the two and represents a good compromise between a breathtaking picture and your wallet. The 34HDX82 is a handsomely designed, wide-screen set with a light-gray finish. Its flat, glass screen avoids the glare associated with curved displays and looks suitably high-tech in the process.

Stereo left and right speakers are located just below the screen, and a flip-down door conceals the front-panel A/V inputs. The universal remote control is illuminated for use in darkened home-theater environments and remains one of our favorites, thanks to a logical and intuitive layout. There's a great new feature called Direct Video Input Selection, which gives you the ability to switch straight to a given input rather than having to scroll through them one by one.

Our main complaint stems from the internal user menus: They're too large and tend to obscure the screen while picture adjustments are being made. Like most other sets of its ilk, the 34HDX82 can display HDTV content in the 1080i format when paired with an external HDTV receiver. The less common 720p format is converted to 1080i for display. Progressive-scan DVD appears natively (a.k.a. without processing) in 480p format, and all other incoming video--from a cable box, a satellite dish, or a VCR--is converted to 480p. The conversion process includes 3:2 pull-down to help eliminate artifacts from video sources that originate on film, such as DVD movies.

Other notable picture-enhancing features include three selectable color-temperature settings and a best-of-breed 3D-YC comb filter for composite-video sources such as VHS. Since you also get the ability to adjust every input specifically for contrast, brightness, and so on, you can properly match each input to the source. Toshiba deserves high praise for allowing scan-velocity modulation--a nasty edge-enhancement circuit that blocks detail rather than bettering it--to be defeated in the user menu.

Among the long list of convenience features is a dual-tuner, picture-in-picture option, which should appeal to sports fans trying to keep tabs on two games at once. Also on tap is a digital noise-reduction function that's said to improve cable-TV reception. A powerful, 33-watt audio system with a subwoofer provides low-bass reproduction. The SRS Wow feature promises a semblance of the surround-sound experience from just the left and right speakers.

The 34HDX82's connectivity options are quite generous. The most important connections are the two sets of broadband component-video inputs, which allow the set to accommodate both a progressive-scan DVD player and an HDTV set-top box. Nearly as pivotal is the DVI input with High-bandwith Digital Content Protection system; this jack lets the 34HDX82 connect to next-generation HDTV receivers with copy-protected DVI outputs.

Front-panel A/V inputs with S-Video offer convenient camcorder and/or video-game hookup. On the rear panel, you'll find two sets of A/V inputs (both with S-Video), a pair of A/V outputs, variable-audio outputs, a center-channel audio input, and two RF inputs for cable-TV and antenna hookups. This Toshiba's out-of-the-box performance isn't quite up to snuff. The warm color-temperature setting was fairly close to the NTSC standard of 6,500 Kelvin at the bottom of the grayscale, but measurements at the top were overly blue. Also, during the course of our routine ISF calibration of the set, we noticed that the decoder overaccentuated reds. We had to back down on the color level somewhat to get an accurate palette.

After calibration, the set looked considerably better on both DVD and HDTV sources. Chapter 31 of Charlotte Gray, one of our new reference DVDs, revealed excellent detail and good--but not great--overall color saturation. Chapter 4 of Monsters, Inc. also looked well saturated and was full of fine detail. HDTV sources from a DirecTV HD satellite feed were excellent. Mark Cuban's HDNet, arguably the best HDTV broadcast available today from any source, looked spectacular.

The bottom line: The 34HDX82 is a good performer when properly tweaked. If it weren't for the fact that the color decoder is not quite as good as those found in previous models--Toshiba used to have one of the best decoders on the market--the set would earn a CNET Editors' Choice award. The Sony KV-34XBR800, with its poor out-of-the-box color decoding, at least gives a qualified technician the ability to fix the color decoder in the service menu and eliminate red push. Therefore, the Sony is a better choice as far as performance is concerned.

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