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Toshiba Regza 40XF355D review: Toshiba Regza 40XF355D

When CRT televisions roamed the earth, we all looked at them and said, "that's what a TV looks like. I doubt they'll ever look any different to that". Then our collective minds were blown when flat LCD and plasma TVs arrived on the scene.

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8.3

Toshiba Regza 40XF355D

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Styling; picture quality; decent range of inputs.

The Bad

Price premium over fatter-framed X3030 range.

The Bottom Line

The Toshiba Regza 40XF355D looks amazing. The thin bezel gives it a much smaller profile than a standard LCD TV, which look positively lardy in comparison. The TV also offers excellent picture quality but might be too expensive when up against the other TVs in the range

Now Toshiba has decided to blow us away again with a thin bezel TV that it likes to call the XF. The full name -- Toshiba Regza 40XF355D -- gives away a few more details, such as the screen size, which in this case is a glorious 40 inches. Available for around £1,300, this TV is all about aesthetics, and trust us -- your eyes will love it.

Design
When we say that the main purpose of this TV is that it looks good in your living room, we don't mean to imply that the TV itself isn't a good performer. What we're really trying to get at is that the XF is designed to be visually striking.

The bezel -- the plastic that surrounds the LCD panel -- is just 23mm thick. This bezel is thinner than a fruit pastel. What this does for the TV as a whole is utterly amazing, as it makes the whole thing look much smaller than it actually is. Indeed, this TV looks more like a 32-incher rather than a 40.

The TV is finished in an attractive piano black, which is the de facto standard these days. All in all, it's an amazing TV that manages to better everything we've seen so far. At the bottom of the screen is a blue LED which tells you when the TV is on -- in case the moving pictures don't give it away -- this can be turned off in the menus, however, or dimmed to be less of a distraction.

There are a decent amount of sockets, too. Three HDMI connections are dotted around the set -- two at the rear and one at the side. You'll also find VGA and component in to display those analogue high-definition sources. There are also two RGB Scart sockets for your older equipment.

The Toshiba remote control has also be slightly improved. It seems fairly responsive and we quite like the styling of it. Toshiba deserves praise here, because their old remote controls were hopeless. The company has clearly been listening to our whinging.

Features
The Toshiba 40XF355D can accept 1080p over HDMI including the 24p format that is all the rage at the moment. It does support HDMI 1.3, so can handle a wide colour gamut input, although that's not as big a deal as the amount of content that can take advantage of this feature is virtually zero.

The EPG is the standard eight day Freeview system. We like the way the Toshiba uses the information -- always telling you how long there is left before a programme ends. There are also suggestions made about what show you might like to watch next -- handy if you're in the mood for some mindless channel surfing.


Performance
We've mentioned all the positives of the slender bezel on this TV. Now its time to mention the problems that it brings. The most obvious issue is that the thinner chassis means the structural integrity of the TV is slightly compromised. This means that quite extensive strengthening has had to take place. It is this that has pushed the price up slightly.

Additionally, small bezel means less from for substantial speakers. This can mean weedy sound and a total lack of bass. Luckily, Toshiba saw this coming and asked for some help from sound specialists Onkyo. The 40XF355D has specially designed speakers to help improve the sound. We found that dialogue was pretty clear and easy to understand. Don't expect big bass, but there is at least a subwoofer output if you want to beef up the sound slightly.

We used a Jamo subwoofer in conjunction with the built-in speakers and were amazed at the overall sound quality. We'd advise that people who don't want a full 5.1 system consider either a 2.1 setup or adding a sub. It makes a huge difference to movies.

The good news is that the slim bezel doesn't affect the picture quality, which on our test discs was excellent. We loaded Transformers on HD DVD into our player and were excited to see amazingly sharp and vibrant colours. Our old favourites Serenity and Happy Gilmore also looked brilliant with  bright colours particularly showing up in Gilmore.

Upscaled DVD also looked good -- although after being spoilt by the amazing sharpness of Transformers, nothing could ever match it. The two demo DVDs we were using -- Twister and Mission: Impossible II -- both looked good. Although the original film grain on MI:II is very apparent on DVD, the Toshiba did well.

Of course, Freeview picture quality was the weak link here. The Tosh does a decent enough job with these pictures, especially once the backlight is turned down. We'd also suggest turning off all the picture processing and noise reduction modes. It's easy to assume these improve the picture, but that isn't always the case.

Conclusion
In truth, you are paying a premium for this TV over other Toshiba models like the 42X3030D, which is available online for around £900, and closely resembles the 40XF355D in terms of performance. In fact, for many people, the space saving and visual impact will make this TV worth the extra cash -- you'll just have to cut down on the fruit pastels for a while.

Still, the performance of this TV is excellent, and if you do decide to go for this screen, we don't think you'll regret it.

Got an opinion? You can discuss this review and the TV in our forums.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday