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Toshiba 37X3030 review

Our current favourite 37in LCD

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Our Verdict

Black levels aren't the best around but at this price its strengths far outweight its weaknesses

For

  • Great price

    Full HD

    Looks good

Against

  • Black levels slightly weak

Usually we aren't particularly bothered about how much things cost. Not because we've got more money than sense or anything (sadly that couldn't be further from the truth) - it's just that our love of AV is such that we find ourselves reluctant to compromise on performance standards to save a few bob.

But for our current favourite 37in LCD TV, we're happy to make an exception. For the compromises demanded by Toshiba's 37X3030 are actually way, way smaller than we'd have thought possible given its puny £800 price tag.

Take, for starters, its build quality. It's robust, impressively glossy, and quite stylish - far from the plasticky grey nastiness you often see at this price level.

In terms of connections, the 37X3030's highlights are two HDMIs, a D-Sub VGA port, a digital audio output for shipping out multichannel audio tracks received via the HDMIs, and a subwoofer line out for attaching an optional low-frequency speaker. All good stuff for the money.

Arguably the single biggest attraction of the 37X3030, though, is its full HD pixel count. Normally you'd struggle to find a decent 1366 x 768 37in TV for £800, yet the 37X3030 has all 1920 x 1080 pixels necessary to show without scaling down the 1080-line sources which make up practically all of the UK's HD material.

What's more, the set's HDMIs can take 1080p inputs, including the pure 24fps format that most films are encoded in on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. The good times continue to roll with the 37X3030's claimed contrast ratio, which at 3500:1 is every bit as high as that promised by many screens costing way more.

Naturally this contrast ratio figure comes with a rider, in that it's only achievable with the help of a dynamic backlight system that reduces the picture's brightness when dark scenes are detected, in order to make black levels look deeper. But while this brightness-reducing arrangement might count as a disadvantage of the 37X3030 versus plasma TVs, similar arrangements are also used by practically every other LCD set.

There's only one disappointing element in the 37X3030's specifications, and that's the lack of the solid 100Hz engine that helped motion look clearer on some previous Toshiba sets.

In action, the 37X3030 hugely outperforms its price point. For instance, despite only being 37in across, the TV enjoys clearly visible benefits with HD courtesy of its Full HD native resolution.

Colour blends, for instance, are unusually smooth thanks to the screen's high pixel density. Plus the scintillating levels of fine detail on show in the card-playing scenes during the Blu-ray of Casino Royale are delivered with true Full HD aplomb, and without a trace of noise (provided you use the 1:1 pixel mode).

More general strengths find the picture looking bright and intensely coloured, with natural colour tones - especially during bright scenes. Motion is handled adequately, losing surprisingly little resolution for a set without any 100Hz system. Finally, the Tosh handles the upscaling of standard-def sources to its Full HD pixel count with refreshing credibility.

Black level, though, does fall short of the best LCDs, causing some greyness over dark scenes.

The bottom line here is that despite its slight black level shortcomings, the Toshiba 37X3030 is a cracking entry-level 'in' to the joys of Full HD. And for that we are truly thankful.