In the past few years, CRT TVs have slowly given way to the large influx of plasma and LCD flat panel displays. Now, we're on the verge of another paradigm shift as major TV manufacturers are now moving towards the trend of producing HDTV displays capable of displaying up to 1080 vertical lines natively. However, may of these new HD capable units have yet to prove themselves worthy of the 'full 1080' mark, as most displays are incapable of accepting a 1080p signal or properly displaying a Windows desktop resolution of 1920 x 1080. Toshiba, a well-renowned company that produces various CE products in the market, now joins the bandwagon as it introduces the REGZA 47WL66E - a 47-inch LCD that is larger than life.
With its black and grey fascia, users will have an easy time placing this unit anywhere without looking out of place. The stand does a great job of supporting the screen by allowing it to be adjusted in various positions. It is also removable if you want to mount your LCD screen to the wall, making the 47WL66E even more versatile. However, be advised that functions like power, volume control, and program position is located at the top of the screen, making the remote control essential if the unit is wall mounted.
The remote is quite large and looks very similar to Toshiba's older LCD TV remote control. One thing noticeable is the fact that the buttons for controlling other devices such as DVD players have been taken out and is replaced by larger, more tactile keys. On the downside, choosing video sources (Component video input, HDMI input, etc.) requires users to cycle through the list using the same source selection button. Then again, pressing and holding the button brings up a menu on-screen to quickly choose the needed video source.
While Toshiba's 47-incher does indeed carry a 1920 x 1080 resolution, it cannot fully accept 1080p signals like most LCD TVs in the market. It can, nevertheless, improve the visual quality of 1080i video content by de-interlacing it to make it appear quite similar to 1080p. It also features Digital Noise Reduction, MPEG NR (noise reduction for MPEG files) and Black Stretch (increases strength of dark areas of the picture to improve definition), providing users with a more pleasurable viewing experience.
Besides this, an extensive color management system is available along with brightness adjustments for each color (red, green, blue, yellow, magenta, and cyan) that can be accessed via the On-Screen Menu, in case users find the need to calibrate their LCD unit.
Connecting the LCD TV to a PC through D-Sub (unfortunate that the panel has no DVI input), we found out that there were only three resolutions well-supported by the TV set. While you can select other resolutions from the computer, the PC display adjustment menu is limited to the three preset modes. After various tests, we have found the sharpest mode of the display to be 1280 x 1024 in normal 4:3 aspect ratio. Switching to 'Wide' mode is not recommended, as it will stretch out text and graphical elements, making them blurred and distorted.
Through calibration using SpyderTV, the LCD TV has a black luminance of 19.469cd/m2 and a white luminance of 3380.822cd/m2. After various tests using the DisplayMate Multimedia Edition, we've found that the Toshiba LCD TV performed as well as any regular 17-inch LCD PC monitor in the market today. We were quite impressed with the detailed and sharp images during 720p and 1080i video playback. It is sad to say, however, that it did not perform as well during DVD and analog TV viewing as it suffered from a lot of noise and motion artifacts, even when the noise reduction feature was turned on.
We cannot whole-heartedly recommend the Toshiba 47WL66E as an upgrade as it has less product features under its belt; no Picture-in-Picture function, no memory slots, very apparent noise and motion artifacts for analog TV and DVD playback display and has a much higher retail price (around US$750 more) than Toshiba's own stellar performing 42-inch 42WL58 , which was the biggest panel in their previous series.
Despite all these drawbacks though, the Toshiba 47WL66E does have a larger screen, sleek design and most importantly, an impressive HD output with a full 1920 x 1080 panel and 1080i de-interlacing support, giving it an advantage against its competitors when it comes to viewing HD sources. Estimated street price is about US$4700 at the point of publication and is very much a norm of LCD panels of this size.