Toshiba 52XF550U LCD TV Real-World Performance
Playing chapter 8 of Mission: Impossible III on HD DVD at 1080i, the pan across the staircase that opens that chapter pulsed with moiré. On the plus side, the shadow detail in the catacombs was quite good, even with the Static Gamma control at its default 0 setting, and cranking it up didn't make it much better.
Shadow detail was also excellent in the below-deck walk at the beginning of Master and Commander on Blu-ray. The detail in the ship's rigging and other intricate images was razor sharp, and colors were beautiful, including the pasty-pink skin tones of the sailors. I was also impressed with the subtle gradations in the fog bank just before the Acheron attacks the Surprise.
One of my favorite shots with which to check frame interpolation is a moment near the beginning of <>Cars on Blu-ray. The three front runners in the Piston Cup race are being profiled, and Lightning McQueen appears in front of an array of bright blue lights—on some 120Hz sets, turning frame interpolation on causes the lights to exhibit artifacts, but there were none to be seen on the Toshiba. In fact, I saw virtually no difference in any shot, including pans past signs on the track as the "camera" follows the "cars," with ClearFrame on or off. As before, color and detail were excellent overall.
Watching The Patriot on Blu-ray did nothing to change my opinion of the set's detail and color. The texture of the rough-woven clothes, the headstone carving, and facial pores were tack-sharp, and the green/yellow corn field, red British uniforms, and blue sky were just right.
Another shot that reveals any artifacts caused by frame interpolation is near the beginning of Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi on DVD. As Darth Vader's shuttle approaches the Death Star, fine vertical lines in the wall of the landing bay can exhibit all sorts of visual crud if the frame interpolation is on, but not in this case. In fact, once again, I saw little or no difference in any shot with ClearFrame on or off.
The black of space was fairly deep, and black differentiation in Vader's outfit was nicely rendered. Likewise, shadow detail in Jabba the Hutt's dim lair was better than I've seen on many LCD TVs. Overall detail was as good as can be expected from a standard-def source, and colors were fine.
This set's audio system is better than many I've heard recently—which doesn't mean it's great. The sound was somewhat bright and brassy, but not as closed in as TVs can often be, and dialog intelligibility was okay. Still, I recommend an external sound system for the most immersive experience.