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Toshiba XV545U review: Toshiba XV545U

Toshiba XV545U

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
12 min read

Toshiba is trying to corner the market on "turns your standard-def into high-def!" hype. One recent attempt was the XD-E500 DVD player, which trumpeted funky and ultimately disappointing "XDE" video processing in attempt to lure buyers. Now there's the more elaborate "SRT Super Upconversion" moniker, which promises that "all your DVDs and TV channels will be displayed in near High Definition picture quality." According to our tests of the 46-inch 46XV545U, that's even less true than you might expect. Turning SRT on does make some standard-definition sources appear a bit sharper compared with leaving it off with this display, but at the expense of artificially enhanced images that don't look much like high-definition to us. Fortunately for its final score, the 46XV545U gets the basics mostly right.


Toshiba XV545U

The Good

Reproduces a deep level of black; relatively accurate grayscale after calibration; 120Hz dejudder mode has few artifacts; numerous picture controls; plenty of connectivity with four HDMI and one PC input

The Bad

Inaccurate primary color of green and cyan; subpar uniformity; proprietary upconversion circuit introduces edge enhancement; lackluster design.

The Bottom Line

Consider the midprice Toshiba 45XV545U for its decent overall picture quality, not its gimmicky standard-definition processing.

Toshiba is not breaking any new ground with the 46XV545U's external appearance. The medium-thickness border around the frame bears glossy black color found on most flat panels these days. The thicker chunk of frame below the screen includes a silver-colored accent running the width of the panel, which fades tastefully into black along its top edge and abuts a perforated speaker grille along the bottom.

Dimensions are typical for a 46-inch LCD. Counting the nonswiveling, glossy black stand, the 46XV545U measures 43.6 inches by 29.4 inches by 12.3 inches and weighs 61.7 pounds. Remove the stand and the panel measures 43.6 inches by 27.3 inches by 3.9 inches.

Toshiba's internal menu system includes numerous nested menus and requires drilling down quite far to get to some items, but at least the arrangement is logical. That said, the sheer number of options, many of them seemingly unnecessary, adds a cumbersome level of complexity. We would have appreciated some sort of contextual explanation for menu items as well.

Like the menu, the big remote control is cluttered and difficult to comprehend at first. There are too many like-size buttons arranged in a relatively haphazard fashion. The remote can control three other pieces of gear.

Toshiba differentiates this HDTV from the competition with an array of video processing options. Like many LCDs these days, the 46XV545U is equipped with a 120Hz refresh rate along with dejudder processing. There's also the "SRT Super Upconversion" circuit designed to improve picture quality with standard-definition sources. Check out the Performance section for all the details on how these features work.

Toshiba 46XV545U
A setting called Film Stabilization controls the set's dejudder processing, while a separate ClearFrame setting controls its anti-blur capabilities.

As do most LCD HDTVs available in 2008, the 46XV545U has a native resolution of 1080p. However, at this screen size it's very difficult to tell the difference between 1080p and lower resolutions.

Toshiba 46XV545U
The AutoView picture mode does just what you'd expect, automatically adjusting every picture parameter. We preferred to leave it turned off.

The 42RV530U has a solid selection of picture setup features considering its price. Lazy viewers may want to try the AutoView picture setting, which locks every picture parameter and adjusts the picture according to content and ambient room lighting. We left it turned off for critical viewing.

Other preset picture modes include Sports, Standard, Movie, PC, and Preference, but only the last mode is adjustable. Once you choose a mode and then make changes to any of the picture parameters, the mode automatically changes to Preference, which is fortunately independent per input. There are three selectable color temperatures: Warm, Medium, and Cool. Blue Drive and Green Drive are the only color temperature tweaks in the user menu, but they do help improve the grayscale beyond the presets.

Toshiba 46XV545U
Rudimentary color temperature detail controls, just blue and green drive, allow some improvement in the Toshiba's color accuracy.

Toshiba labels its Color Management System with the evocative title Color Master. If you turn it on and select Color Palette, you can make adjustments for all six colors. However, as with most CMS systems, we found its usefulness quite limited. It really only works to make slight improvements in the color decoding, rather than correcting the inaccurate primary and secondary color points, which is what it should do. We left it tuned off.

Toshiba 46XV545U
Toshiba also includes a full color management system, but despite all those controls we couldn't improve its primary and secondary colors much.

Under the Theater Settings menu, a setting called Cinema Mode should be set to Film for proper 2:3 pull-down detection with film-based formats like standard-definition DVDs, and some cable and satellite programming. Also, a Theater Lock feature lets you lock your settings so that no one can change them.

As expected from a 1080p HDTV, the 42RV530U offers an aspect ratio mode, dubbed Native, that's designed to show every pixel of 1080i and 1080p sources without scaling or overscan. You should use this mode unless you see interference along the extreme edges of the display.

To adjust power consumption, Toshiba includes the Retail and Home settings found on many Energy Star 3.0 compliant HDTVs, both during the initial setup phase and, unusually, as options in the setup menu. There's also a toggle between Power Save and Fast turn on that affects standby power consumption. Power Save is the default, and we don't suggest changing it just to save a couple seconds of warm-up time. Check out the Juice box for more information on the 46XV545U's power use.

Toshiba 46XV545U
Back-panel connectivity is solid, including three HDMI, two component-video and one PC input.

Connectivity on the 46XV545U leaves little to be desired. It starts with four HDMI inputs, three on the back and another on the side, and is joined by a PC input (1,280x1,024-pixel maximum resolution), two component-video inputs, an AV input with S-Video and composite video, optical digital and analog stereo audio outputs, and another AV input with composite video on the side panel.

Toshiba 46XV545U
A fourth HDMI input is available on the side panel along with a standard composite AV input.

The overall picture quality of the Toshiba 46XV545U is relatively good, anchored by deep black levels and a dejudder mode that's less prone to artifacts than many we've seen. Color is hit or miss and uniformity is poor, however, and the SRT Upconversion won't work wonders with standard-definition material.

During the calibration phase we were able to improve the color accuracy of the Toshiba 46XV454U, but not to as large of an extent as we would have liked. As we mentioned, the color management system was largely ineffective at bringing the set's primary and secondary colors closer to the HD standard. Yes, we could make some improvements, but at the expense of color decoding, which made the image appear unnatural. We had better luck with the green and blue drive controls' influence over the grayscale, improving it significantly over the Warm preset (see the Geek box for details). The grayscale was still minus-green overall, but much better than the bluish case it had before. After calibration we measured a solid 2.09 gamma. For our full picture settings, check out the bottom of this blog post.

For our main image quality tests we involved a few other similarly priced 120Hz LCDs, namely the Sony KDL-46W4100, the Samsung LN52A650, and the Sharp LC-46D85U, and used the Pioneer PRO-111FD, as always, as a reference. We watched Vantage Point in Blu-ray via the PlayStation 3.

Black level: The Toshiba did quite well in this department compared with the other displays in our comparison. It reproduced slightly deeper blacks than the Samsung and the Sharp and matched the Sony's depth of black in dark areas, like the letterbox bars, the shadows in the back of the Presidential limo, and the dark recesses of the TV control room. Shadow detail was also quite good, although not as natural-looking as the Samsung or our reference display. Dark areas like the black coat of Dennis Quaid in the control room, for example, appeared a bit more obscured, although still better than on the Sony and the Sharp.

Color accuracy: The 46XV545U earns mixed reviews on the color accuracy front. For the most part, after calibration it looked about average, with fine saturation and punch on account of the deep black levels. Skin tones, especially in dimmer areas like the face of Enrique's girlfriend as they embrace before the speech, did appear slightly greenish/yellowish and pale compared with the reference, but not to any egregious extent. We attribute this problem to the Toshiba's highly inaccurate primary color of green, which was visible in the yellowish/greenish tinge of the plants along the freeway as Enrique escaped, for example. We also noticed the overly blue tinge of cyan in the stairwell of the hotel, as well as in the shirt of a hotel employee.

The somewhat less-accurate grayscale was visible in white areas too. For example, when the cloud of smoke from the explosion in the square billowed up toward the camera, it appeared a bit redder than on our reference display. We did appreciate the neutral color of black areas on the 46XV545U. Compared with the Samsung, with is slightly greenish blacks, and the Sony and Sharp, which lent black areas a bluish tinge, the Toshiba's black and very dark areas appeared the most accurate of the LCDs in our comparison.

Video processing: The Toshiba 46XV545U includes numerous video processing options, but we'll start as usual with a look at its 120Hz and dejudder modes. An option called ClearFrame in the menu engages the set's 120Hz processing, while dejudder is handled by Film Stabilization, which has two settings called Standard and Smooth.

Watching Vantage Point with resolutions other than 1080p/24 (see below), we found that Standard was pretty much indistinguishable from no dejudder at all. Smooth, on the other hand, did smooth images appreciably, removing most of the judder from film-based sources and providing that telltale "on-rails" look. As usual, with Film-based material, we preferred to leave dejudder turned off, although some viewers may like it.

Compared with the Sony and Samsung sets in their High dejudder modes, Smooth on the Toshiba did evince fewer artifacts during one of our favorite tests-- the difficult section at the beginning of Chapter 18 in SpiderMan 3, where the camera orbits Peter Parker during the parade. The Toshiba was less-smooth-looking than those displays, but it also showed no "halo" distortions around his head. During Vantage Point, it was again obvious that the Toshiba wasn't doing as much smoothing as the other two. As the camera follows the president down the handshake line, for example, motion seemed much more stable on those displays than on the Toshiba.

We also checked out one of our favorite scenes to evaluate dejudder, the flyover of the USS Intrepid from I Am Legend, first in normal 1080p/60 mode. In Standard Film Stabilization mode, the Toshiba looked much like it did with Off; judder was prevalent, and we couldn't see much difference between the Toshiba and the other LCDs with their dejudder modes turned off. We switched to Smooth on the Toshiba and the smoothing effect increased, as expected, although again it didn't look as steady as the High modes on the Sony or Samsung displays.

With 1080p/24 material, the Toshiba's Film Stabilization mode is best set to Standard to preserve the native cadence of Film. During the pan over the Intrepid, Standard evinced the steadier judder--which we consider the most natural, film-like look--seen on the other 120Hz displays with their dejudder modes turned off. Smooth introduced the same kind of overly aggressive smoothing, while turning Film Stabilization to the Off position brought back the subtle hitching motion associated with 3:2 pull-down processing. We'd expect film buffs watching 1080p/24 material to prefer the look of Standard.

Our resolution tests revealed that the Toshiba resolved every detail of 1080i and 1080p sources, correctly deinterlacing 1080i from both film and video, and delivering between 500 and 600 lines of motion resolution when we engaged the ClearFrame processing. We switched between the various Film Smooth settings and they didn't have much impact on motion resolution. Switching ClearFrame off caused the display to revert back to the standard LCD motion resolution of between 300 and 400 lines. But if you're keeping track, since ClearFrame doesn't itself introduce dejudder processing, the Toshiba is one of the few 120Hz LCDs to deliver improved motion resolution without having to also introduce dejudder. It's also worth noting that none of these resolution characteristics, motion or otherwise, were easily discernable in regular program material as opposed to test patterns.

The SRT Super Upconversion feature is designed to work with standard-definition material, so we'll direct you below for details. We were able to engage SRT with 720p material as well as 480i (and not 480p, 1080i or 1080p sources) but we only tested it with 480i.

Uniformity: During dark scenes, the Toshiba's screen evinced the worst uniformity in our test. When the all-black "23 minutes earlier" screen appeared, for example, brighter splotches were visible in the upper corners, as well as along the bottom edge toward the right side. The entire right side was a bit brighter than the rest. The brightness difference became essentially invisible during bright scenes, but in darker scenes we could make out the brighter corners in the letterbox bars, for example. When seen from off-angle the Toshiba lost black levels a bit faster than the Sony and about the same as the other displays, and we also noticed discoloration, where the image became more bluish-green the further we moved off-angle to either side.

Bright lighting: With the lights turned up, the matte-screened 46XV545U attenuated room lighting as well as any of the other matte-screened LCDs and better than the Samsung and the Pioneer, although it didn't preserve black levels as well as the Samsung.

Standard-definition: The Toshiba turned in a below-average standard-definition performance with SRT Super Upconversion turned off. The set resolved every line of the DVD format, but details, for example in the steps and stones of the bridge in HQV's detail test, appeared quite soft. The Toshiba failed to clean up the edges of moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag as well as we'd like to see, although it wasn't terrible. Noise reduction was solid, removing the motes and snowy noise from skies and sunsets quite well. The Toshiba successfully engaged 2:3 pull-down, eliminating the moire from the stands behind the speeding racecar.

SRT Super Upconversion is one of the main selling points of this TV, and when we switched it on, the differences were not subtle. The main effect of SRT that we could discern was to introduce edge enhancement, much like a TV's Sharpness control. There are three SRT modes in addition to an Auto setting, and Mode 1 introduced the least EE (aside from Off) and Mode 3 the most. The artificial edges can increase perceived sharpness, which can seem to make low-quality material look more detailed. In the Toshiba's case, compared with the Off setting, engaging SRT did improve the apparent detail of many areas, such as the bricks behind the waving American flag and the bridge in the Detail test. However, we believe that's mainly because of Off's general softness compared with the other displays in our lineup. For that reason, we'd recommend using the mildest of the three SRT settings with standard-definition material, despite the artificial-looking edges it can create, especially around text and other onscreen graphics.

It's worth noting that, as with all other standard-definition processing, SRT is irrelevant if you use an external source that does the conversion itself. Such sources can include upconverting DVD or Blu-ray players, a cable box, or a satellite boxes set to convert everything to HD.

PC: Via the digital HDMI input, the Toshiba performed as perfectly as we'd expect from any 1080p LCD, displaying every line of a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution source with no overscan. Via an analog input, as the manual indicates, the highest resolution we could achieve was 1,280x1,024, although we preferred the look of the wide-screen 1,360x768 resolution. Either way, both were softer than full 1,920x1,080, naturally.

Before color temp (20/80) 7738/7158 Poor
After color temp 7009/6446 Average
Before grayscale variation 659 Poor
After grayscale variation 237 Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.648/0.331 Good
Color of green 0.221/0.669 Poor
Color of blue 0.15/0.057 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Yes Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

Toshiba 46XV545U Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 178.59 133.5 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.2 0.15 N/A
Standby (watts) 0 0 N/A
Cost per year $55.28 $41.32 N/A
Score (considering size) Good
Score (overall) Good
*Cost per year based on 2007 average U.S. residential electricity cost of 10.6 cents per kw/hr at 8 hours on/16 hours off per day.

How we test TVs.


Toshiba XV545U

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 7