One of Toshiba's least expensive flat-panel TVs for 2008, the 32-inch 32CV510U defines the phrase "good enough." Its picture outclassed that of the cheapest such set we've tested this year, the Insignia's NS-LCD32-09, but many people buying at this screen size are probably shopping more on price than picture quality anyway. Nonetheless, we consider it worth mentioning that the 32CV510U came up with respectable black-level performance, balanced by less-than-accurate color. For shoppers who want to avoid the absolute cheapest HDTVs yet still save some cash, the Toshiba 32CV510U makes a tempting target.
The by-now-standard, glossy-back finish dominates the Toshiba's rather pedestrian look, with a thin strip of speaker below the screen, rounded edges on the corners of the cabinet and a blocky-looking, non-swiveling matte black pedestal stand providing the only accents. The company hid a set of AV inputs on the left side of the cabinet. The 32CV510U is one of the more compact 32-inch LCDs we've seen, measuring 31 inches wide by 22.4 inches tall by 9.8 inches deep and weighing 30.6 pounds including the stand.
Toshiba's menu system remains unchanged from last year, and we found it generally easy to get around the picture settings. Its remote is also the same, and while we appreciate that the numerous keys allow easy access to a multitude of functions, we would have liked to see more differentiation among the buttons. The clicker can command three other pieces of gear, and all of the keys glow in the dark.
The 32CV510U's feature set is about average for the breed of entry-level 32-inch sets, beginning with its perfectly adequate 1,366x768 native resolution (1080p would be wasted at this screen size). Toshiba's fine selection of picture controls includes four preset modes that cannot be adjusted and a fifth, called Preference, that allows adjustments to be remembered independently per input. Somewhat confusingly, trying to adjust any of the modes automatically switched the picture mode to Preference. We appreciated that Preference settings can be preserved against accidental erasure by engaging the "Theater Lock."
Other picture settings include three color temperature presets that each allow further adjustment via a pair of gain controls (for Blue and Green only; we'd like to see Red included at least); a 10-position gamma slider, a pair of controls (DynaLight and Dynamic Contrast) that modify the image on the fly; two species of noise reduction; and a Color Master color management system that allows adjustment of the six primary and secondary colors. Check out Performance below for more details and our complete picture settings.
We really appreciated having five aspect ratio modes for high-def sources, including one that eliminates overscan completely. A rather paltry three modes are available for 480p, but all five are present for 480i standard-def sources. The 32CV510U lacks a picture-in-picture option, although you can freeze-frame the moving image to catch a phone number, for example.
We would have also liked to see an energy saver mode that affected power consumption by reining in peak brightness. There is a "power saver" mode that limits consumption when the TV is in standby mode (that is, turned off); disengaging it allows the set to turn on a bit faster, but it burns a lot more juice. Happily, the power saver setting is engaged by default.
The Toshiba's solid connectivity equals that of most 32-inch name-brand HDTVs, beginning with a pair of HDMI ports, a VGA-style PC input (1,360x768 maximum resolution), two component-video inputs, one AV input with composite and S-Video, an RF input for antenna or cable, an analog audio output and an optical digital audio output. That side panel offers another HDMI input as well as second AV input with composite video.
The Toshiba 32CV510U produced a perfectly good picture compared with those of the competition, especially at this price range. Its image quality is anchored by relatively deep black levels and bogged down by less than accurate color, especially in dark areas.
During the course of our standard calibration, we tweaked the Toshiba's scant grayscale controls, and while we were able to improve the too-blue Warm preset, we weren't able to approach the kind of accuracy allowed on sets with full controls, such as the Samsung LN32A450. We also played with the Color Master system and achieved a slight improvement in the primary and secondary color points. We couldn't do much with green, the worst offender, but even it wasn't too bad to begin with. Check out the Geek Box below for all the results and our full picture settings to see how we got them.