Flat panel TVs can definitely be bigger than life

By: Zatni Arbi, Contributor, Jakarta

In my bedroom I have a 29-inch Toshiba TV. Around 10 years ago I hung it on the wall using a chrome shelving unit, which I’d brought from a shop in Pinangsia, Glodok, Jakarta. The makeshift TV rack served its purpose perfectly, so I never had to buy the expensive tilt-and-swivel TV racks they sell in hardware or audio/video stores.

It is not an LCD TV, as you can tell by its age. It has also hardly been used, as we usually watch a smaller, non-Toshiba TV, which sits on a shelf in my workroom. My CRT Toshiba TV is therefore almost as good as new.

While others might find its colors a bit dull, I personally like it and other Toshiba TV sets in general, precisely because of their softer colors. The screen is not as bright as you would find on other TVs, but the image looks more natural to me.

Two weeks ago, Toshiba launched their new series of widescreen High Definition LCD TVs in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Jakarta. Marketed under new global brand REGZA, this line had actually been launched in other parts of the world earlier this year.

Five different models were on display at the press conference, each with a different screen size. Understandably, the first thing I checked when I looked at the screens was the color, which I was happy to see basically met my expectations.
These LCD TVs have a brightness level of 500 cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1200:1.

Currently, there are two types of High Definition TV sets available on the market: The standard HDTV and the emerging full HDTV. The screen of the standard model has 720 horizontal lines, while in the latter — as demonstrated by the Sony VPL-VW100 projector, which we looked at last week — the screen has 1080 lines with 1920 pixels each. Of the five models, which range from 26-to-47 inch, only the top one has the full HDTV capability.

So, if you have a full HDTV source, no conversion will be necessary to screen the program on this model, the Toshiba 47WL66E. The price tag, in case you’re curious, is Rp 40 million.
Last week we also learned that the High Definition signal is sent to an HDTV via the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable. This interface handles both the HD signal and multichannel audio signal. Remember that, when watching a high definition program, you will also want to immerse yourself in surround sound. All the five models have HDMI sockets.

However, the REGZA TV sets can accommodate other connections as well, including S-Video. We can connect any one of these TVs to a media recorder or even to a computer.
The strength of the new REGZA LCD TVs lies of course in the video display. Toshiba uses a newer technology called Meta Brain Pro on these LCD TVs to produce clean moving images. With the technology, the incoming video signal is analyzed, frame by frame, pixel by pixel.

Using the results of the analysis, the processor makes the necessary adjustments to the colors to create a more real 3D effect. The movement of objects from one frame to another is also analyzed and digital noise reduction is performed to avoid motion smearing or the “ghost effect”.

The LCD’s pixel response time is eight milliseconds. It is not as fast as the SXRD used in the Sony projector, but the result is still quite satisfactory.

The big question is, who really needs an HDTV set? In Indonesia, digital TV broadcasts are not even on the horizon yet. The only time we can make use of the wide screen is when we are playing a DVD movie.

Fortunately, these LCD TVs can convert the signal so that we can watch any program using the best capability of the set. For example, if we connect a full HDTV player to a REGZA 32-inch 32WL66E and play a HD DVD movie, the signal will be compressed to 720 lines.

We can also choose the viewing format. Do we want to keep the 4:3 aspect ratio of the original video image? Or do we want to have that 4:3 video to fill the entire width of the screen? The Super Live 1 setting will stretch the original video. Although the proportion of the object in the center is maintained as much as possible, some distortion may not be avoidable.

For example, people will look fatter and shorter due to the stretching. Other settings include Cinema 1 & 2, which basically eliminate the black areas outside the image. As the 47-inch has the full HDTV capability, it also has the Exact Scan setting that will allow us to watch full HDTV program.

Chandra Gozali, who is considered a guru in audio-video technology and equipment in Indonesia, performed a test on the 32-inch 32WL66E in his professional lab. He used the industry standard AVIA DVD software for the test, and he told the press during the event that the 32-inch REGZA unit passed with flying colors.

What do I think of the REGZA LCD TVs?
While I like them because of their natural and not overtly brilliant colors in addition to the clean and clear moving image, the cabinet design of the TV sets could be made more attractive.

A TV set does not have to be fancy-looking, but the current “black overall” theme of the Toshiba REGZA series is, to be honest, rather boring. But, then again, we buy a TV not to decorate our living room but to watch videos and TV shows, right? Especially as the REGZA delivers one of the best screen images on the market today.

Sumber: The Jakarta Post: July 24, 2006

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