You're not seeing things: the Toshiba Regza 37XV505 owes a lot of its styling to the ultra-slim Toshiba Regza 40XF355, which we reviewed last year. The bezel is slender and the screen has a modern and impressive design that gives it a real presence in the corner of your living room.
It might look the part, but can this sleek, £600 LCD TV compete with some of the amazing plasma TVs that are on the market at the moment? We sacrificed some time to play PS3 games and watching movies to find out.
Despite its similarity to last year's model, we like the look of the 37XV505. Not only is its design smart, stylish and modern, it also sports classy rounded corners and a glossy black finish.
As off-switch obsessives, we're pleased that XV has a proper power button. It makes us sad that such a feature is even noteworthy, but these days, so much stuff simply can't be turned off. Many TVs are environmental disasters, not to mention expensive to run. You'll find this lovely power switch on the left-hand side of the TV.
At the rear of the set, there are two HDMI, two Scart and one component and VGA input. On the side of the screen, there are composite, S-Video and a third HDMI input. Basic controls for adjusting the channel or volume are housed on the side panel. You also get an optical digital input and a subwoofer output. These add to the flexibility of the TV and mean you might be able to get better sound out of it.
The similarity to previous Toshiba sets is reflected in the remote control. It's slender and decent enough to hold, but while the buttons are logical, it's not the most responsive of devices.
Toshiba has included a number of nice touches in the XV series that should keep people happy. Most notable is the inclusion of audio description support. If you've never heard of it, AD is a method of sending an extra audio track to the TV that includes a description of what's happening on-screen. This means that people with sight problems don't struggle to understand what's going on. It's not a new idea, but including it in a TV makes a lot more sense than requiring a separate decoder box.
There is a game mode, designed to engage 1:1 pixel mapping, and produce the best possible picture quality when playing games. We constructively used our work time to play Burnout Paradise, confirming that the TV is very capable in the gaming department. It certainly improved the quality of our skiving and will surely please at-home gamers, too.
Toshiba's own Regza link is present and correct. Hooking up an HDMI CEC-compliant device to the TV means that in theory, your TV remote is capable of controlling your Blu-ray or HD DVD player. It also means that HDMI inputs with CEC-capable devices plugged into them show the name of the player. This is handy as it removes the guesswork from what you have hooked up to each HDMI input.
If you're used to turning the lights down to simulate the cinema, the Toshiba features the new 'luma sens' system to help. The system monitors the ambient light in the room and adjusts the picture brightness to match. This is a pretty useful feature, and also saves you the hassle of tweaking the settings when the sun goes down at night.
Freeview is often the weakest link in the performance chain. Here, the Toshiba does a brilliant job, clearing up some of the horrible picture problems you so often see on large screen TVs. We watched some of the usual daytime nonsense and despite the abhorrent content, the picture actually looked pretty good. We did have to muck about with the picture settings for some time to get the best out of the TV, however. Once we'd done that, we were really happy with the picture.
This is, as you would expect, carried over into the HD viewing experience. We found the picture here to be incredibly sharp, detailed and colourful. Inserting Resident Evil: Apocalypse into our Sony Blu-ray player (sorry, Toshiba) told us two things. First, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is like the encyclopaedia of rubbish film making, abysmal writing and horrible acting; second -- and perhaps more importantly -- the Toshiba can do a grand job with 1080p/24 material. Colours were rich but not overdone and film grain was successfully reduced by the Toshiba's built-in picture processing.
Setting the TV up was dead simple, too. On the initial power-up, the TV sniffs the airwaves for digital and analogue channels, and stores them quickly and without significant fuss. Once that's done, the EPG is simple to use and will guide you though the next eight days of TV. The TV will even tell you what programmes are just starting on Freeview channels -- a nice little feature.
The only real disappointment was the sound. We spent time tweaking and trying to get it sounding rich and natural, but we never quite got the sound to be perfect. One of the problems is the lack of bass. The slim case on this TV doesn't really allow for great low frequency speakers, so everything is on the weak side. The good news is you can plug in a subwoofer; this is quite possibly worth doing so the TV can concentrate on dialogue and effects -- the two things it did do well.
The 37XV505 does a great job of pretty much everything. The weakest area is sound, which is thin. This is fine for most types of viewing, but adding an external speaker system would really make all the difference.
In terms of competitors, we'd pit against the incredible Panasonic Viera TH-37PX80B 37-inch plasma. Still, the Tosh holds its own, and is 1080p, which it can hold over the Panasonic.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday