Any home cinema fan will tell you that big is best when it comes to screen size. It's a philosophy Toshiba seems to understand too, having bolstered its Regza ranges to offer a choice of 55-inch sets, this one being the Toshiba 55ZV635D.

The high-end SV series really puts Toshiba back at the front of TV innovation, with local dimming LED backlights giving the mammoth display even more impact.

This ZV set is the more frugal non-LED option, which dramatically reduces the price, so makes this set, in terms of pounds per square inch, something of a bargain.

To keep the cost down elsewhere, Toshiba has avoided complicated multimedia features like online connectivity and wireless media streaming in favour of more sensible picture-enhancing features like 200Hz motion processing and Resolution+ video upscaling.

Other key boxes that Toshiba has ticked are Full HD resolution (naturally), a decent user interface and ample connectivity, including four HDMI ports. And as a bonus, there's also a USB port for inputting MP3s, JPEGs and video (including DivX) files, and an SD card slot for loading your digital snaps. Needless to say, this 55in screen makes a fine photo-viewer.

It's no wallflower either, even without the LED backlighting. The expansive screen is surrounded by a wide border that makes it look more like a 60in plasma, but its edges are softened by an attractive design feature that Toshiba calls Deep Lagoon.

It refers to the way the single front piece of glass, which runs right to the frame, fades from black to white at the edges to give an impression of depth.

It's not the thinnest panel on the market either, although that's no practical disadvantage, while the stereo speakers deliver sound from behind the panel.

Up against the wall

You can wallmount this set just like any other flatpanel TV, so long as your bracket is of a certain strength, but the supplied stand is of a sleek and sturdy design, too.

Setting up is a simple case of plugging in a terrestrial aerial and letting the auto-tune feature locate and load all of the Freeview and analogue channels. Toshiba has yet to offer a Freesat set, but with four HDMI ports there's plenty of room for external set-top boxes.

Toshiba's onscreen GUI isn't as slick as the graphics of, say, Sony or Samsung, but it's intuitive enough and with the big colour-coded keys of the remote control, it's easy to operate the TV straight out of the box. It's also relatively responsive, unlike the often rather sluggish channel changes you tend to find with Philips and older Samsung sets.

Tosh 55zv635

The 8-day EPG is also usefully arranged for at-a-glance scheduling. That big panoramic screen gives high-definition material real impact in Full HD mode. Using a 1080p24 feed (to avoid any scaling or processing) from a Panasonic Blu-ray player brings out the ravishing detail and vivid colours of JJ Abrams' Star Trek.

The native 1080p resolution of the screen seems to bristle with warts-and-all detail. Not that the young crew of the Enterprise need to worry about their close-ups. It's hard not to be impressed by the scale and accuracy of the picture, but in direct comparison, this set doesn't have the dark blacks of Panasonic's plasma screens and the colours are not the most vivid amongst LCD sets either.

And, compared to Toshiba's own LED-lit panels, it's clearly not breaking any records in the contrast department either – something our Tech Labs reinforce with the screen's 1,150:1 contrast measurement in Dynamic mode.

Greyscaling is actually very good on the whole, but during the darker scenes, there are times when black clothing, for instance, simply merges into the scenery. Few precious artefacts Thankfully, the 55ZV635D's features cut the mustard.

Toshiba's Active Vision M200HD processing succeeds in reducing image lag without introducing motion artifacts. It's essentially combining 100Hz processing with intelligent backlight scanning to create smooth movement without the judder that could otherwise be very jarring on a screen of this size.

It sounds like some kind of weapon of mass destruction, but the MetaBrain Engine is what Tosh calls the processing chip that powers its Active Vision picture enhancement suite and Resolution+. The latter tries it's best, but standard-definition material can still look pretty awful on this 55in TV.

LCD panels at this size are quite unforgiving of poor source material and some general Freeview channels are broadcast at horribly over-compressed bitrates. My advice would be to rely as little as possible on upscaling and stick to HD material where possible.

No audio justice

It's difficult for a TV of this stature to integrate speakers that can do it justice, and even at full volume, the 10W-per channel available doesn't measure up to the scale of the picture. However, it's by no means tinny, and the sound is well projected, so it'll do to be getting along with.

Perhaps the best aspect of the audio is Dolby Volume – the simple circuit that equalizes your audio and stops those evil advertising soundtracks from deafening you in between programmes. It might not have the razzamatazz of its more expensive LED sibling, or the exciting online functionality of an Ethernet-equipped set, but I'd still recommend this dazzlingly detailed behemoth for home cinema duties.

LED backlighting is a big advantage in a bright room, but not essential for a dedicated cinema environment, and all of the key features, like a full set of inputs and decent motion processing, are present.

Toshiba zv635

And those shy speakers won't be an issue if you're planning to do this cinematic set justice and partner it with a full 5.1 home cinema system.

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