Toshiba Plasma TV

Model: Toshiba 42HP66
Description: 42” Plasma Television, Widescreen 16:9 Format
Resolution: 1024x768 (HDTV)

Includes: Integrated pedestal stand and speakers, NTSC and ATSC (HDTV) tuners, 2 HDMI high-definition, 2 component video, 3 composite video, 3 S-Video connection 1 VGA Input (PC connection).
Color: Silver casing and pedestal stand with black frame around screen

Reviewer: Paul Doran
Date: December 2006

INTRODUCTION

Toshiba recently introduced the 42HP66 as its flagship High Definition plasma television. Although it is the newest model offering, the 42HP66 is a fundamentally different television than its predecessor, the 42HP95. Built in Thailand, its circuitry and plasma display panel (PDP) differ from the high-quality Toshiba parts that Toshiba contracted for the 42HP95 and earlier models. While this is a strategic move on Toshiba’s part to cut costs and offer lower prices than their first-tier competitors, many industry insiders are skeptical as to whether Toshiba can maintain the high quality to which its customers are accustomed.


PICTURE: 79/100

When we first pulled the Toshiba 42HP66 out of the factory packaging and turned it on, we quickly noticed considerable “ghosting” of the On-screen setup menus. “Ghosting” refers to images that are temporarily burned-in to the picture. While these effects were temporary, they served as a red flag for our review staff to fully inspect the television for any screen burn-in problems. We quickly tested another 42HP66 to ensure that we did not review a defective model, and, unfortunately, this problem appears to be widespread. However, it is important to note that “ghosting” issues tend to decrease over time after new plasma televisions have been broken in. It is something that the review staff will monitor throughout the reviewing process.

Toshiba Plasma TV Review

The default picture settings for the Toshiba 42HP66 are set to Sports mode which tends to reproduce “Vivid mode” effects from other models we have tested. Switching the picture mode to Standard decreased the Contrast and Brightness settings to a more appropriate level. In our preliminary inspection of the 42HP66’s picture, we noticed that it does not reproduce the same black level quality of the other first-tier plasma televisions we have tested. It is also very easy to notice the color irregularities between dark and light scenes and the considerable video noise in the picture – especially when watching standard-definition programming.

To ensure the best picture quality possible for our 42HP66, we used a colorimeter, a Sencore High-Definition signal generator, and a specialized software suite to calibrate the television to the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) standard color temperature of D6500K. The following table contains the picture settings for the 42HP66 after its ISF-calibration. We highly suggest that, if you own a Toshiba 42HP66, you use these below settings to regulate the color temperature and white balance of your 42HP66:


Toshiba 42HP66 Optimal Picture Settings
Picture Mode Memory
Brightness 29
Color 24
Tint 3
Sharpness 3
Color Temperature Warm

Figure 1. Optimal picture settings for the Toshiba 42HP66 using ISF calibration.

In our opinion, it would be very difficult to move closer to D6500K by modifying the television’s service menus. One would have to hire a trained technician to modify the service menu of the plasma television – a method which could potentially destroy the television, and because of the color irregularities of the display, it is unlikely that a service menu modification would improve the picture quality.

After the calibration, we hooked the 42HP66 up to our reference Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD player and watched The Boondock Saints DVD connected via HDMI. While flesh tones and dark matter detailing are improved post-calibration, the television still shows considerable video noise or pixilation. The video noise is a concern because our source is 1080i resolution, and, with the pixilation, it looks like standard definition!

On a slightly more positive note, video noise did not increase substantially when we viewed a standard-definition television broadcast. Some pixilation is expected with a standard-definition signal because of the lower bandwidth, but it is especially bad in the Toshiba’s case.

Toshiba Plasma TV Review

The measured contrast for the Toshiba 42HP66 is only 620:1 which is low for today’s plasma televisions. This figure is partly to blame for the television’s inadequate black levels and dark matter detailing.

Toshiba’s proprietary aspect ratio settings are quite annoying: TheaterWide 1, TheaterWide 2, and TheaterWide 3 simply stretch and zoom in on the input image. There is seemingly no effort made to reduce the distortion caused by the screen stretching.


OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: 86/100

The aesthetics of the Toshiba 42HP66 remind the review staff more of a “bargain basement” plasma television than one from a proud first-tier brand like Toshiba. The casing is very “plasticy,” and the silver and black casing is downright ugly. Fortunately Toshiba moves the speakers to the bottom of the screen for the 42HP66 so the consumers who do choose to buy this unit can fit it into their television cabinets.

The Toshiba 42HP66 includes those inputs that we have come to expect on today’s plasma televisions: 2 HDMI high-definition inputs, 3 component video inputs, 3 composite / S-Video inputs, and a PC input. There is a side input for a camcorder or video game system that will only be hooked up temporarily. Unfortunately there is no direct-input selection on the universal remote control.

The remote control is ergonomically friendly and inputs are easy to find. With the appropriate product codes, one can use it to control the DVD player and other auxiliary components. The 42HP66 has 2 x 10 watt speakers, which are adequate for a small viewing room. Audiophiles or those with large living rooms will want to supplement the 42HP66’s speakers with their own audio systems.

The Toshiba 42HP66 consumes about 360 watts of power which is slightly less than its 42” plasma competition from Panasonic or Pioneer.

VALUE: 82/100

While Toshiba was striving to cut costs and lower the price-point of their newest model, the 42HP66, they severely underestimated the quality of their competition. The 42HP66 sells for about $1500 to $2000, which is still a little more than the Panasonic TH-42PH9UK and one must give up a lot of picture quality compared to the Panasonic Pro series plasma. With the 42HP66, Toshiba leaves the “first-tier” plasma television categories, and is now more directly comparable to the budget models found in local discount stores.


OVERALL RATING (WITH PICTURE DOUBLE-WEIGHTED): 81.5/100*

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.






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