For such a big set, the Toshiba 62JM9UA looks positively svelte. Toshiba has obviously taken a few design tips from plasma and LCD televisions, as when viewed from directly in front the straight lines and minimalist styling of this DLP TV give the strong illusion that you're looking at a flat panel screen. And forget what you've heard about rear projection televisions being bulky - this Toshiba is only 469mm deep, and weighs in at an impressive 47kg. This makes it lighter than plasmas of comparable size (for example, Samsung's 63 inch PS63P3H weighs in at 69kgs).
The large screen is flanked by two speakers, with the front of the whole unit having no protruding buttons to make it clutter-free. Some touch sensitive controls are integrated into the bottom right hand side, which gives you basic controls such as on/off, volume, channel change and menu settings. But since these controls are marked out by thin white lines on a shiny black background, they're somewhat difficult to see in low light conditions.
Most of the connectors for the 62JM9UA can be found at the back of the set, but Toshiba has wisely placed the card slots on the right side of the screen (as well as an input terminal for S-Video or composite) where it can be easily accessed by users.
The Toshiba has a screen resolution of 1280x720, meaning it can take any high definition signal you can throw at it (the full list is 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 1080i and 720p signals). What's even better is that the 62JM9UA is practically begging you to use as high res a source as possible with the inclusion of HDMI connectivity. HDMI is the all-in-one video and audio digital connection that promises to deliver the best quality picture and sound between source and display available - trust us, you won't be seeing this television at its best until you hook it up via HDMI. Other inputs include two components, three S-Video/composite and a D-Sub for a PC. As mentioned earlier, the 62JM9UA can also take memory cards directly through a slot on the side - SD, Smart Media and Memory Stick are compatible.
On the video side, the 62JM9UA comes with a built-in analog tuner, an odd choice considering an analog TV signal doesn't do a screen this size with such a high resolution any favours. This set comes built-in with Toshiba's proprietary TALEN (Toshiba Advanced Light Engine) system, which uses special technology to improve picture quality. When it comes to sound, the 62JM9UA's speakers can each pump out 20W of power and feature a virtual surround sound capability (SRS WOW Surround).
The 62JM9UA's lamp life is rated at roughly 8000 hours. Replacement lamps cost AU$449, but its a relatively simple process that a home user can do themselves.
First of all, you're going to need a digital set top box if you want to get the best TV experience out of the 62JM9UA. Television through the built in analog tuner is watchable, but the screen's high resolution and gigantic size means every blemish and fault in the lower res analog signal is substantially magnified. We plugged in a high definition LG set top box (the LST-4100P) via HDMI to the Toshiba and the difference in quality was astounding - colours were more natural and vibrant, and the picture's sharpness was such that it looked almost 3D when watching a full high definition signal. The CNET.com.au crew found itself entranced by a Geoff Jansz cooking segment on Nine's cooking show Fresh purely because everything from the pots and pans to the food looked so realistic.
Switching to DVD (plugged in via component) showed the Toshiba was no slouch when it came to contrast. We spun Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones and were immediately impressed with how it handled the many dark scenes in the film. The asteroid chase sequence between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett, one of our favourite testers for any home theatre gear, was replayed well - the Toshiba was able to pick up the many thousands of tiny stars in the background and handled the fast moving ships with aplomb. Sharpness and detail also remained impressive - in a scene with Anakin and Padme sitting in a grassy field, the many individual grass stalks around the two characters could clearly be made out as they moved in the wind.
Using the memory card slot was a breeze. Inserting a compatible memory card will automatically switch the television to a viewing mode for the card, where you can select to view any photos or video stored. For photos, a slideshow function has been integrated into the Toshiba, allowing your own pictures to become a screensaver for the television.
While older rear projection televisions tended to suffer from washed-out pictures in anything other than low lighting conditions, the Toshiba 62JM9UA has no such limitation. We tested the screen in a fully lit room (with fluorescent bulbs) and its image quality remained comparable to a normal CRT for the most part. In truly dark scenes, however - where the majority of the image was dark or black - it became difficult to see what was happening on screen. The Toshiba does include two settings for its lamp power, which means you can increase the brightness if you're always going to be watching in brightly lit rooms (bear in mind that using the high power setting will lower the lamp's life expectancy). Obviously the Toshiba will work best with minimal external light sources, but that can be said for any television.
A couple of minor caveats remain, however. While the Toshiba 62JM9UA produces an outstanding image, its sheer size means it's not for every living room. If you're expecting to squeeze this into a small area and expect to see a gee-whiz picture when you're less than a metre from the screen, then think again. You'll need to be at least several metres away to get the best results. And finally, since the Toshiba utilises DLP projection technology, some people may notice a rainbow effect appear on screen, particularly around fast moving bright objects. Not all people will see this effect - for example, on the CNET.com.au team Editor Pam Carroll and myself don't notice it, while Senior Editor Jeremy Roche does. For those that can see it, it may only prove to be a minor distraction, but its best to give it a test run before committing your cash.
Overall, the Toshiba 62JM9UA is a top high definition performer that, on a screen-size per dollar ratio, provides real competition against large LCD and plasmas. Its sleek looks, high specifications and great performance coupled with its relatively cheap price means it definitely deserves an audition from any prospective big screen shopper.