Published On: February 15, 2004

Toshiba 57HX93 Cinema Series Rear Projection HDTV Reviewed

Published On: February 15, 2004

Toshiba 57HX93 Cinema Series Rear Projection HDTV Reviewed

Toshiba makes some of the best RPTVs, and the 57HX93 is no exception. It offers high-value and high-performance in a world increasingly flat-panel centric. Just don't try to lift it. We test out this retro beast here.

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There is no denying that home theaters are hot these days. Everyone has one, wants one or would like to upgrade their old one. Moreover, following the adage of bigger is better, big screens are king of the do-it-yourself cinema realm.

Additional Resources
• Read all of today's best Plasma HDTVs reviewed here.
• Read Top LED HDTVs reviewed here.

But when comparing prices of high definition televisions, the disparity between all the different types of display devices can be overwhelming. Unless you have a large budget or your kids do not mind missing a few meals each day to help subsidize that expensive plasma screen, a large display may be out of reach. However, rear projection televisions (RPTVs), even in super-sizes, continue to maintain an affordability that is hard to beat.

One of the top contenders in the HD rear projection ring is Toshiba. Their newest Cinema Series sets have solid performance, new cosmetics and loads of technology improvements while still maintaining competitive pricing. The second largest display in the Cinema Series line is the Toshiba 57HX93. This 57-inch widescreen weighs in at 204 pounds, which would rank it in the heavyweight class if it were a professional boxer, but even as a television it's still quite portly.

Unique Features
The 57HX93 has three CRT rear projectors with Toshiba's PowerFocus HD4 optics and Niltava Advanced Lens Technology for accurate color reproduction and better color tuning than asymmetrical ground lenses. Toshiba's TouchFocus automatic digital convergence system makes adjustments to compensate for natural and manmade magnetic fields. TouchFocus provides a faster, more accurate digital convergence for optimized corner-to-corner focus at the touch of a button. Toshiba even includes manual override adjustments for fine-tuning.

By increasing the contrast and color saturation, HD Dynamic Contrast circuitry enhances detailed information in the picture for a sharper image. This is accomplished by analyzing both the bright and dark areas of the picture and optimizing the dynamic range of each area separately. Picture enhancements include luminance transient improvement, green enhancement and blue stretch; and improve all video signals including 1080i.

To help reduce detail noise in intricate scenes, the 57HX93 is equipped with a 3D Y/C (4MB, 10-bit) digital comb filter with vertical contour correction for RF and composite video signals.

For DVD content, Cinema Mode circuitry identifies original film-based material and processes it with a 3/2 pull-down switch. Since motion pictures are based on 24 frames per second (rather than video-based 30fps), there is often a flicker when these frames are converted to a 60Hz NTSC television. The Cinema Mode eliminates the possibility of artifacts and video errors by reassembling the frame sequence to more accurately reproduce the original 24 frame film-based material. The proof is in the pudding, uh, sharp and accurate full-frame progressive image.

Inside the newly designed two-piece cabinet, the 57HX93 packs a 40-watt MTS stereo with SRS WOW and Virtual Dolby. This creates a wide, three-dimensional sound field that is enhanced with a TruBass sub system for better low frequency effects. StableSound is a feature close to my heart. StableSound maintains the television volume within a preset range to eliminate the shock of a standard program volume level followed by dramatically loud commercial interruptions. It also regulates the volume levels when changing channels for audio symmetry across the tuner.

Read MUCH MORE on Page 2

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Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
Rear projection TVs offer a lot of bang for the buck. The trade-off to getting a large display at a fraction the cost of plasma and LCDs is, of course, the size of the cabinet. Accommodating a large RPTV into a living room or den may substantially cut down on living space. Plus, they blend in with the décor like an elephant hiding behind a palm tree. Conversely, setting up a RPTV is far easier than mounting a display to a wall and fishing cables between drywall and through wood studs. Setting up a RPTV is so easy that the most difficult task is probably moving the set into place.

The 57HX93 has generous connections on the rear panel, making a powerful monitor with room to grow and expand. Once the Toshiba was properly positioned and connected to a new DirecTV HD TiVo digital video recorder, terrestrial HD antenna and a Harman Kardon DVD 22 player, I calibrated the video signal using my Digital Video Essentials DVD by Joe Kane. After the audio and video signals were optimized, I proceeded with the evaluation.

The size of my family room allowed for a 12-foot viewing distance, which was adequate for the 57-inch TV. This distance yielded positive results for the test; however, with a west-facing window at a 45-degree angle to the screen, I noticed a distracting glare that is common with rear projection units. Bright lights from an exterior source can really wash out the picture of a television, but rear projection sets are especially susceptible. With curtains drawn and lights down low, the 57HX93 demonstrated a much better appearance. While watching my favorite channel, Discovery HD, the animals on the African Serengeti appeared almost three-dimensional. The detail on lion manes allowed me to view single hairs blowing in the wind and the rough skin of the elephants and rhinos nearly gave texture to the screen. During Discovery's Shark Week, I enjoyed seeing images from the deep shown with terrific black levels. The dark oceanic images were so precise, small background details in poor lighting actually stood out. Brighter images such as with the opening scenes of Finding Nemo were warm and accurate with enhanced edges. The built-in color decoding and warm temperature controls did a splendid job reproducing the red, green and blue hues.

Toshiba scored a TKO with their on-screen menus. They are powerful, but still easy to navigate. The menus use colored buttons and graphics to control key features of the 57HX93. The universal A/V remote can control up to six components and is backlit in blue. It does not take a trip through the manual to figure out what buttons work each feature. As for the new cabinet styling, though functional, it looks humdrum at best. The black non-descript design doesn't do much to make the 57HX93 stand out, but it is smaller than other RPTVs in this class.

Final Take
The Toshiba 57HX93 is priced about mid-pack when matched up with other RPTVs, but has so much to offer. Since image quality is at the forefront of judging any display, it's with great pleasure I put my stamp of approval on this HDTV. The lifelike theater-quality imaging, excellent white and black levels and superior detail outshine nearly every other rear projection system, period. With help from numerous technologically advanced video circuits, the picture processing provides well-defined, accurate and vibrant colors. Video dynamics of the Niltava Lens Technology, HD Dynamic Contrast and TheaterFine HD Super Fine Pitch Screen equal a well-focused, artifact-free picture. Conve-nience features such as the Gemstar interactive program guide for digital and analog program information, TouchFocus auto digital convergence system, dual tuners for PIP and POP operation, and illuminated remote deliver the combination punch that makes this contender a real champion.

Additional Resources
• Read all of today's best Plasma HDTVs reviewed here.
• Read Top LED HDTVs reviewed here.

Toshiba 57HX93 Cinema Series HD RPTV
57-inch 16:9 Screen
Integrated HDTV Monitor
540p/720p/1080i
Dual tuner
DVI-HDTV rear input
(2) IEEE 1394 (FireWire) input/output
TheaterLink IR output
Rear RCA audio input/output
(2) component video inputs
(3) S-Video inputs (1 front, 2 rear)
56 3/4"H x 52 3/4"W x 24"D
Weight: 204 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year (parts and labor)
2 years (picture tube) 
MSRP: $2,999

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