This 46-inch LCD HDTV is part of Toshiba's top-shelf 2008 line, the XF550U Series and, as such, incorporates many of the company's most advanced imaging technologies. The 46XF550U ($2,799.99) has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and an eight-millisecond response time. It features Toshiba's ClearFrame 120Hz technology to reduce motion blur and produce smoother movement with film sources. This model also sports Toshiba's Super Narrow Bezel cabinet design; there's less than an inch of frame surrounding the 46-inch unit to the top and sides, creating a sleek look and allowing you to fit a larger TV in a smaller space. The connection panel features three HDMI, two component video and one PC input, plus an RF input to access the internal NTSC, ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners. The HDMI inputs support lip synch and will accept both a 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 signal. The 46XF550U lacks picture-in-picture functionality, as well as a program guide for the internal tuners, but it does offer a nicely conceived Channel Browser that shows thumbnails of available or favorite channels along the bottom of the screen.
The 46XF550U offers a solid amount of picture adjustments to fine-tune image quality. You get five picture modes and three color-temperature options, with the ability to adjust the amount of green and blue in these presets. However, the menu does not offer complete white-balance controls. A DynaLight mode automatically tailors the TV's backlight to suit the source content's brightness, while a Game mode improves response time with a gaming console. There's also an eight-step gamma adjustment and Toshiba's ColorMaster feature lets you adjust the hue, saturation and brightness of six colors. Toshiba's 120Hz implementation is divided into two parts, each adjustable via the menu. On its own, the ClearFrame setting (on/off) helps reduce motion blur, a common LCD issue. The second setting, Film Stabilization, specifically addresses the problem of judder in film sources, using frame interpolation to produce smoother movement. You can enable ClearFrame without turning on Film Stabilization if you do not like its effect on the picture. Finally, the TV has six aspect ratio options, including a Native mode for viewing signals with no overscan.
Read about the high points and the low points of the 46XF550U on Page 2.
Toshiba's SoundStrip 2 speaker bar runs along the bottom of the
panel. The audio menu features basic bass, treble and balance controls,
plus a StableSound feature to limit variations between TV shows and
commercials. SRS WOW audio processing is included and the TV's mute
function includes both half- and full-mute choices. One feature the
46XF550U lacks, that is part of many other new 2008 models from
high-end competitors, is an easy way to enjoy digital media, such as a
USB port or card reader. While some previous Toshiba LCDs offered an
Ethernet port and media streaming functions, this model does not.
• The 46XF550U renders an
attractive high-definition image and a solid standard-def image as
well. It combines good black level and light output, with a nice amount
of detail and good video processing.
• ClearFrame successfully
reduces motion blur, and the Film Stabilization effect can produce
smoother movement for those who like the effect.
• The Super Narrow Bezel cabinet design is attractive yet minimalist.
• The TV's color and color
temperature are not very accurate out of the box. Producing a more
natural color palette required a lot of tweaking of the color-temp
blue/green drives and ColorMaster system. We recommend professional
• Digital noise was occasionally a concern in darker-colored backgrounds and light-to-dark transitions.
• The TV's viewing angle is only average compared to other LCD HDTV sets in the price range.
The 46XF550U is a well-rounded LCD
that offers pleasing performance in both a bright and dark viewing
environment. It does take some effort to set up the picture to look its
best, but that effort (with calibration discs or hiring a professional
ISF calibrator) yields very good results. A healthy connection panel
rounds out the package.