Toshiba X3030 (42X3030) LCD TV Review

With the buzz word still 1080p, we take a look at Toshiba's latest LCD offering and are pleasantly surprised!

by Phil Hinton
TV Review

18

Recommended
Toshiba X3030 (42X3030) LCD TV Review
SRP: £1,300.00

Introduction

Toshiba’s latest foray into the 1080 panel business comes in the guise of the 42” X3030D LCD TV. Joining the ‘X’ series of panels under the now familiar ‘Regza’ product line name, this flat panel scores well in the design stakes almost looking like a picture frame thanks to it’s thin surround design and hidden speakers at the bottom of the set. It comes with the table stand already attached out of the box and is fairly light in weight when compared to other flat panel sets, you will be able to lift it on your own quite safely to place on your TV stand (Obviously if wall mounting it is a two man job).

Connections

Initial set up is pretty straight forward with connections round the back being fairly generous with 2 x Scart, 2 x HDMI, 1 x VGA and three various audio connections using RCA jacks. The set has a built in DVB receiver which took a matter of minutes to self tune and save all available freeview channels; and analogue set up was just as easy.
The remote control supplied with the 3030D is a basic Toshiba design found across their range of TVs and if you have ever owned a Tosh, then you will no problems getting used to the new design here. Everything is laid out in a logical manner and you will soon be changing channels and settings without having to look down at the remote itself. Choosing an input is fairly straight forward with a small graphics box opening on the left of the screen to show your choices, plus setting the aspect ratio and stretch controls involves a similar routine with an option to set 1:1 pixel mapping on certain inputs.
This set boasts a full 1920 x 1080 LCD panel which will accept 480/576/720/1080 interlaced and progressive signals unless you are using the VGA connection which only allows 1366x768 to be used.
User set up controls are also well thought out and executed with the usual Picture, sound, set up and function menus which open up under each into sub menus for fine settings. Under the picture menu you have the usual contrast, brightness, tint, sharpness, backlight adjust, colour, Mpeg NR, Dynamic Noise Reduction, colour temperature and a black level stretch mode.
All fairly straight forward stuff, but also of note and most welcome is a full colour management
system which you will see later in the review and which is thankfully of high quality and accurate. The only problem I could find with the settings available was a lack of gamma control and greyscale adjustments within the menus, however accessing the service menu will allow professional calibrators to set the greyscale correctly. (Please note that the settings shown in the pictures here are not the final calibration results).
The set also includes full audio control for the built in sound system
as well as SRS WOW capability. The menu controls allow adjustment of the usual treble, bass and balance controls, plus some extras for the WOW settings.
Moving onto the set up menu allows adjustment of the language and country settings, plus options to change picture positions and assign AV connections and name them. Finally you have the function settings which allow for automatic aspect control, panel locks and other options to fully customise what you want the set to do.
So after allowing the TV to build up a few hours and settle on my TV stand it was time to get the laptop and calibration tools out to do some testing.

Test Results

The first point we get to when looking at the 42X3030 in detail is the lack of independent memories for each input. Instead the set has 3 default settings and one titled ‘M’. Running through all three and measuring the primaries, setting ‘3’ is the closest to the HD colour gamut. As you can see from the CIE chart red and blue are fairly close and green falls towards cyan, however in practice with normal material it is very difficult to notice this with green colours on screen. However as you can see from the white dot on the temperature scale the white point is around the 8000k mark on setting 3, however with calibration and entering the service menus we should be able to get this back to the required D65.

By using setting ‘3’ as our starting point we can look to see how accurate we can get the 42X3030 and surprisingly there are a few features on the set which will help get the best possible accuracy. By making changes and clicking on the ‘M’ setting saves the inputs we make to the set; however the draw back is that this calibration will have to cover all your sources. It will be a case of using what means you can via the sources to get them as accurate as possible and then choosing a calibration setting to suit most or at least the most important. As this is a 1080 screen and here at AVF reviews HQ we have plenty of HD sources we decided to calibrate to the HD colour gamut and calibrated each source before going for an all encompassing compromise set up to get the most accurate settings as possible on the Toshiba.

Many of the latest flat panels have finally began to include the tools for enthusiasts with measuring equipment or professionals get the very best from today’s TVs. As we always preach here at AVF, making sure your display is correctly calibrated is the only way to seeing it as the director intended, there is no such thing as calibrated out of the box. This is something we hope you begin to see with our reviews, as we take our initial readings from new products and then see how close (or not) that we can get them using industry standards and techniques. So how good can this Toshiba get?

After taking the initial measurements we set about looking at getting the colour gamut as accurate as possible. As you can see from the CIE above the gamut falls towards Cyan at the green point and as this is the built in gamut for the set we are not going to be able to get the green any further towards the standard, however we can get it looking more accurate. Using the colour management tool included in the picture set up menus, helped a great deal in this respect; however setting the greyscale and white point would prove to be a little more difficult as we needed to access the service menus. This is not something to even attempt if you do not have the correct calibration equipment. All flat panels differ in how they allow a calibration with many including all you need in the menus, such as Pioneer, and others where they are hidden in the service areas that are code protected. After many passes through each area we finally reached a result that proved this set could be accurate once calibrated, but that I don’t just mean that the results on the PC looked good, but on screen everything was very well presented and accurate. Access to the service area meant that we could get the greyscale to track well with dE less than 4 from 20-100% IRE. RGB tracking was also accurate and the secondary colour points fell into place thanks to the good quality Colour management system, overall we were happy with the results for a budget set like this.

RGB tracking after.


Temperature After

Now the first thing that forum members are going to ask for are the settings we used but sadly that is not something we are going to do, and for good reason. Each and every set is different when it comes from the factory and each person uses differing sources so to get the correct calibration results, means that each set needs it’s own calibration, sadly that is just the way things are with display devices. And beware of those who offer such results on forums as being the correct settings, what may work for one will undoubtedly be off on another. And please don't go messing with service menus if you do not know what you are doing. So consider reading up on the subject or hiring the services of a Pro, safe in the knowledge that this set will achieve good results.

Video Processing and Benchmark Tests

The Toshiba handled almost all of the benchmark material very well with even the harder cadence change tests providing no real effort for the set. Overscan on images was not an issue using the exact scan setting and although there was slight motion blur and loss of detail on some material, overall the processing in this set is better than some costing a lot more money. Black retention was excellent if not the deepest and greyscale tracking was spot on all the time. So with a pass from fair to excellent through our benchmark tests I can confidently say this set manages almost all material (apart from the advertised 24fps) very well indeed.

Sound Quality

The 42X3030D has a built in sound system with the speakers situated under the screen and in a stereo configuration. There is an option to use the SRS WOW system as well as the subwoofer output on the rear of the unit. The overall sound quality is more than acceptable for built in speakers and is certainly clean and crisp for the majority of material watched. However we would always recommend using an external sound source for AV use and would imagine most users will do likewise. However if this is to be a second set for the bedroom, maybe you will have to convince the other half to have full surround sound at bedtime?

Picture Quality

High Definition

One of the reasons for buying a 1080p screen is obviously to watch high definition material from the likes of Sky HD, Blu-ray and HD DVD, so that’s exactly what we tested first.

I have had Sky HD for a few months now and some of the HD material shown over the 12 channels is sublime. From Planet Earth on BBC HD to seconds from disaster on Discovery and live premiership football every weekend, I have been spoilt for choice and the Toshiba performed really well with the material on offer. Using the exact scan option on the set allows 1:1 pixel mapping so the full resolution of the screen comes into its own. There is plenty of detail on show with HD programmes looking sharp and crisp. Colours on the set also look natural, well saturated and free from noise. Watching football in High Definition is certainly an experience and the Toshiba handled most of the content very well, only occasionally showing any jaggies on pitch lines or losing detail on fast moving pans or close up action. Black level was the only things that let the set down slightly with deep blacks being non-existent, but in LCD terms they were more than acceptable and never once fell into the ‘misty’ category. Being able to set the greyscale also paid dividends with plenty of low light detail being shown in the shadows.

However one draw back seen with many LCD sets was also present here and that is poor screen uniformity with things like black out or bright coloured full screen washes of colour. In a few instances it was possible to make out the backlight structure in sections of the image, almost like strips every 4 inches with this set; however I must point out that it was only on large areas of bright or dark material that this was seen. Colour gradation was also a struggle with some material containing colours stepping instead of blending naturally. But overall the HD performance of the 42X3030 was more than acceptable and I would say on a par with many of the best examples of LCD TVs on the market.

One issue we did have with this set and HD material was the inability to playback 24fps material from our PS3 on Blu-ray discs, even though the press release and accompanying manuals said it would. It would appear that this maybe a software problem with the model in question.

DTV and Standard Definition

Again the Toshiba performed well for the majority of the Standard material I watched whilst living with the set. The built in Digital Tuner is robust with an easy to use EPG system and acceptable SD picture performance. Artefacts were present but not always distracting and colours again looked natural with good, if not great black levels on show. The EPG was quick and easy to use making channel searching a breeze. Signal sensitivity was not as strong as some receivers we have seen and even though I live in a good signal area, some channels at certain points failed to load up on screen, I am not sure if this is a fault of the set or whether there was a technical issue with the channels in question at the time of testing.

Moving on to DVD material and again the set performed well with 576i as well as scaled material at 1080i. Again black levels were a little disappointing in not reaching true black, but they were at least better than many LCD models out there. Shadow detail and greyscale tracking were again excellent with colours looking vibrant, without being over saturated. Indeed colour reproduction is one of this sets strong points once properly calibrated and set up. Detail levels were also good apart from the quicker panning movements which caused the image to break up and lose any detail on show. Digital noise was also a slight issue if you are sitting closer than 5ft from this screen, but a more acceptable 7ft this was harder to make out and although I rarely use noise reduction, setting this to low on the Tosh may help with the worst culprits without adding unwanted edge enhancement or artefacts. Overall the Toshiba again performed better than expected and certainly gives me heart that at least we are now heading in the right direction with budget LCD sets.

Verdict

6
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Great value for money
  • Good video processing
  • Full colour management calibration controls
  • Easy to use menu system and good build quality
  • Excellent grayscale tracking once calibrated
  • Exact scan pixel mapping
  • Good quality DTV tuner and EPG

The Bad

  • Needs service menu calibration for grayscale
  • 1080/24 not supported.
  • Slight motion blur and light banding problems
  • Lack of independant memories for each input

Toshiba X3030 (42X3030) LCD TV Review

There was a time not that long ago at all when a 42” 1080p panel with good picture processing and colour management would cost the wrong side of £2,000, but thankfully technology has managed to make its way down to the mass market that offers the end user a more than acceptable performance for not much more than a grand. The inclusion of a colour management system and a set which is not that far out of the box in terms of colour gamut is a real plus at this end of the market. Plus the fact that an enthusiast with the correct equipment or an ISF professional will be able to improve the sets performance immensely with a full calibration is also something to be very thankful for these days. Once calibrated the performance of the Toshiba, baring a few niggles with black level, slight light banding and slight motion blur, is more than acceptable and at the price this set sells at it could be seen as a bargain.

Toshiba have managed to make a full HD set which provides good features and has great detail levels with natural and accurate colours; a greyscale that tracks well and provides plenty of shadow detail and overall at a price that even 6 months ago would have been unheard of. We can only suggest that if you are in the market for an LCD which can do everything above par and at a seriously good price point, we suggest you have a look at the 42X3030D – recommended.

Recommended

Scores

Sound Quality

.
.
.
.
.
5

Smart Features

.
.
.
.
6

Ease Of Use

.
.
.
.
6

Build Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
.
.
6

Picture Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Video Processing

.
.
.
.
6

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
.
.
6

Colour Accuracy

.
.
.
.
6

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
.
7

Screen Uniformity

.
.
.
7
6
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges.

To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.

Related Content

Bush 911 (32911FHD3D) 3D LCD Television Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published
Alba 947 (LCD32947HD) LCD Television Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published
Sony Bravia CX523 (KDL-32CX523) LCD TV Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published
Samsung C650 (LE32C650) LCD TV Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published
LG LD950 (47LD950) Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published

Latest Headlines

LG Display OLED only strategy sees first job losses
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Samsung trademarks Infinity Screen TV display terminology
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
LG showcases transparent OLED displays at Harrods
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Top Bottom