It doesn't offer truly outstanding performance, but it's difficult to think of a more solid performer at this price
Upscaling is unable to work miracles
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One step below the manufacturer's flagship Regza ZV TV, the 42XV635 42in LCD TV boasts a fairly impressive spec for what seems like a very affordable price.
Included in the feature line-up is Toshiba's much-vaunted Resolution+ technology, which claims to upscale any standard-definition source to 'near HD quality'.
Styling wise, the 42XV635D has little to distinguish it from the hordes of shiny black flatscreen TVs already on the market. It's certainly not an ugly television by any means, but neither being particularly possessed of an eye-catching narrow frame, nor being blessed by any measure of 'wow factor', it's unremarkable and, well, a bit dull.
You can make the Toshiba logo glow white, but that's hardly going to convince design conscious buyers to pick this model over more eye-catching screens from the likes of Samsung or Philips.
On board is Active Vision M100 HD Pro processing and 100Hz, plus Toshiba's MetaBrain system that's designed to control processing features such as Resolution+ to ensure optimum picture quality.
Among the generous set of connections are the USB and SD slots that add a dash of media playback capability, enables you to listen to music, watch videos and display photos. But, unlike some rival models there's no space for full-on DLNA media streaming over your home network, or web widgets for that matter.
Ease of use
The music player and photo viewer work well, while the video player is less wieldy: although it plays a decent variety of formats, it's difficult to control playback (ie fast-forward to a scene) and you can't adjust picture settings while watching a movie.
With the correct source material pictures can be very impressive indeed. While Resolution+ might be touted as a way to upscale standard-def content, it's essentially an adjustable sharpening tool for anything you feed to the TV.
So a Blu-ray movie such as Casino Royale looks even crisper than normal; we're talking gorgeously crisp images bursting with detail and clean, rich colours. The advantage of using the upscaling with high quality sources is that there's almost no noise that it can be 'fooled' into sharpening and therefore worsening.
Input a lower quality signal, even an HD movie from Sky, and Resolution+ can actually make noise more noticeable. It'll also raise detail levels, but be aware that it's a two-way street and not a perfect solution by any means.
With even lower quality material, say Sky's standard-definition programming, the technology doesn't make much of an impact at all; pictures simply seem too soft to improve to a noticeable degree.
That said, the picture quality is fine with most material. Black levels are solid when you're sitting directly in front of the screen, but drop off slightly if you're sitting off-centre.
Even at their best they're not up to the standards of equivalent models from Samsung, Philips and Sony, despite the inclusion of a dynamic backlight and dynamic contrast, which tweak picture settings depending on the ambient light in the room.
The 42XV635D is adept as a gaming screen. The response time is rapid enough that you never notice any significant smearing or ghosting with motion, so fast-paced games such as Pro Evolution Soccer are fine.
Again, Resolution+ can be used to sharpen up the graphics, and it works well in most cases, although for some reason Toshiba's preset Game picture mode disables upscaling, so you have to select one of the other picture modes to use it.
The built-in speakers shift a combined 20W of power and come with Bass Boost and virtual surround technology. Everything works fairly smoothly from a sonic standpoint, with little distortion creeping in at high volumes. Bass-heavy scenes don't cause the cabinet to vibrate annoyingly, and you can even enhance dialogue with a special voice setting.
Provided you're not going to want to listen to Miles Davis though the 42XV635D's speakers (a bit of a shame, given that it comes with MP3 playback capabilities), it's absolutely fine for accompaniment to TV, games and films.
Even the virtual surround technology has a fair crack at wrapping you in audio, which is more than can be said for most televisions.
Overall, Toshiba has succeeded in putting together a solid, dependable screen at a good price. If you want the best performance and design, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for an affordable TV that serves up excellent HD pictures and decent pictures with everything else, this comes highly recommended.
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