Toshiba 52XF550U LCD TV Setup & Tests
Like virtually all TVs, the 52XF550U offers several picture modes, and the Movie mode is actually quite close to the optimum picture settings. However, if you tweak any of the settings in a preset mode, the mode switches to Preference, which could be a bit confusing.
After selecting the Preference picture mode and entering my settings, I was surprised to find that ringing—ghostly white halos surrounding black lines on a gray background—was very pronounced. Even more surprising, when I selected the Movie mode and adjusted its settings (causing the mode to automatically switch to Preference), there was no ringing to be seen, even though the Sharpness setting was the same in both cases.
As I was taking the peak-white and black level measurements, I noticed that the white- and black-field uniformity was not great. With a white field, the corners and edges were slightly darker than the center, and with a black field, the corners were slightly lighter, though neither case was egregious. Like most LCDs, the apparent black level increased as I went off axis, and black shifted toward blue-green. Again, this wasn't terrible, but I wouldn't want to watch this set from more than 30 or 40 degrees from the centerline.
Oddly, the user menu offers only two calibration controls: B Drive and G Drive, which affect blue and green, respectively, at the high end of the brightness range. I would much prefer to have red, green, and blue controls for high and low brightness, or at the very least, an R Drive control in the user menu.
The service menu has all six controls, but the low-end controls were completely useless. They didn't do anything when I adjusted them, and even if they had, each one reverted to its default value when I selected another control and then returned to it. As a result, I was able to calibrate only the high end of the brightness range, and the results were not significantly better than those I obtained by adjusting the B and G Drive controls in the user menu.
I had better luck with the ColorMaster controls, which let me shift the color points. This was especially important with green and cyan, which were way off. I was able to dial all the colors in perfectly except green, which I couldn't quite seem to nudge into place, though I got pretty close.
Looking at the HQV Benchmark DVD at 480i via component, jaggies were moderate and most pronounced on the waving flag. The set's DNR (digital noise reduction) was reasonably effective without softening the picture, even on its High setting, though the Auto setting didn't seem to do much at all. MPEG NR softened the picture considerably, so I left it off.
The set's processor picked up 3:2 pulldown very slowly, taking about two full seconds to lock on. Unfortunately, the Cinema Mode control has no auto setting, so you must manually select Film or Video depending on the content. The mixed 3:2 film with video text crawls took a moment to stabilize, then it was fine, though the diagonal bass strings were more jaggy than I usually see them.
On the HQV Benchmark HD DVD at 1080i via HDMI, jaggies were invisible, and the video resolution-loss test was solid as a rock. The film resolution-loss test took about a second to lock onto the 3:2 cadence, then it was fine except for an occasional loss of lock. The seats in the bleachers lost a fair amount of detail during the pan.
Turning to the FPD Benchmark Blu-ray test disc, ClearFrame improved the detail and sharpness of the scrolling monoscope pattern, but the bursts in the pattern were full of noisy artifacts. Moving characters, such as the pan across a world map, were sharpened quite a bit with no ill effects, as were the license plates of passing cars. However, it didn't do much to improve the sharpness of some of the other motion clips, especially the girl on a swing—in fact, her fine-striped blouse looked no sharper but had more artifacts when ClearFrame was on.
This disc also includes some mostly black and mostly white shots with subtle gradations. In both cases, the Toshiba rendered them just fine.