Back in 2008, Toshiba took a beating when its HD DVD format lost the format wars against Blu-ray. Four years later, the enforced focus on LCD has resulted in solid budget TVs like the Toshiba 32C120U and now the Toshiba 40E220U.
The Toshiba 40E220U is a sub-$500 television with a lot to offer the bargain-minded consumer. It has fairly deep black levels, a better selection of inputs than most competitors, and rich, vibrant colors. Image processing is quite good, with a crisp picture and very good off-axis performance.
On the downside, the Toshiba's shadow detail isn't as good as its competitors', uniformity is lacking, and the design is a little dated.
In short, while there are plenty of options at this price level, the 40E220U is a no-frills television with a fine picture.
The Toshiba 40E220U is a cheap TV and unfortunately it also looks like one. It sports a two-tone finish consisting of a black bezel with silver trim at the bottom -- a look that was popular several years ago but has since fallen out of fashion. The TV sits on an oval stand that doesn't swivel.
The remote is the same one that ships with the 32C120U, with squishy, closely spaced buttons. There are certainly better remotes than this if yours are ergonomic concerns.
Meanwhile, the TV's menu system is fairly basic with a black-and-green color scheme. Most irritatingly, control of one of the most important functions -- the light sensor -- is hidden inside the menu system, and if you don't disable it your picture will be too dim. Check our picture settings forum post to find out how to find it.
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||N/A|
|Smart TV||No||Internet connection||No|
|3D technology||No||3D glasses included||No|
|Refresh rate(s)||60Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||No|
Unlike the smaller 32C120U, the 40E220U has a full 1080p screen resolution, but there's no further added functionality beyond that TV's fairly basic feature set. If you're interested in multimedia playback, though, the Toshiba can play back JPEG images and MP3 tunes via the USB port.
Picture settings: The E220 offers a number of possible tweaks, including the option to adjust the grayscale slightly and to choose from among a bunch of different gamma settings. The DynaLight feature adjusts the backlight control based on image content.
Annoyingly, if you try to change any of the presets (such as Movie or Standard) the mode switches to Preference, making it easy to accidentally delete your settings.
Connectivity: The Toshiba 40E220U's inputs include two HDMI ports, one each component- and composite-video, an RGB-style PC input, and a USB port.
Just as the 32-inch Toshiba 32C120U has the best picture quality in its size, the 40-inch 40E220U similarly stands out among its peers. While you don't get plasmalike depths, the E220's black levels are good for the price, and shadow detail is acceptable.
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.
|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.
|Geek Box: Test||Result||Score|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0099||Average|
|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|