Toshiba REGZA 37RV530U Review
37" 1080p LCD HDTV, $1199
As signified by the REGZA label, the 37RV530U is the pinnacle in Toshiba's lineup of 37" LCDs. In fact, this HDTV is the only 37" model from Toshiba that features the 1080p display.
We are in the midst of a roundup of 37" LCD HDTVs from different manufacturers. We will review each individually and then aggregate our opinions in a comparison article. This Toshiba is the third one in the corral. (You can read the review of the first, an LG 37LG50, here and the second, a Samsung LN37A550, here.)
(Editor's Note: Toshiba produces four other models in their REGZA RV530U Series, the 32-inch 32RV530U, the 42-inch 42RV530U, the 46-inch 46RV530U, and the 52-inch 52RV530U. They have similar specs to the 37RV530U and this review can be applied to them also.)
Our Star Ratings
Video performance of the REGZA 37RV530U with HD material is top notch. I can't say that the audio quality meets that standard, but it is more than adequate.
With no USB port for photos and music uploads, no Picture-in-Picture, and no Ethernet port, this REGZA is not overflowing with features. The picture adjustment tools are robust which is appreciated.
Ease of Use: 4.5
Basic setup to achieve a highly presentable image took very little time. The Color Master feature made finer tuning easy. The manual is well written.
Considering its street price, this Toshiba HDTV compares well with its 37" 1080p competition. If you can't live without a USB port, then subtract at least a half point.
Star Ratings Description
Ratings are relative to when the review was written. The obvious example is Value, what you could purchase for $2000 two years ago or even two months ago would seem like a bad value for that price now. We have given only a precious few 5 Star ratings, which we reserve for truly outstanding accomplishment.
Out of the Box
It is saying a lot about the sameness of design of the 37" TVs we have in our testing facility when a curved edge is a major event. But we take our excitement where we can find it.
And even though the LG 37LG50 has a small rounded edge, the curve on this Toshiba is more pronounced because the face of the bezel is also slightly convex. With the highly glossy piano black finish, the reflections of the one and a half inch bezels reinforce the look of the soft curved surface.
I had to attach the well-constructed stand, which swivels about 20 degrees left and right. The procedure is fairly simple because the 3.7" deep TV weighs less than 40 pounds and is easy to maneuver.
On the right edge of the back of this REGZA is a panel with the control buttons (Power, Volume, etc.). Below them are an HDMI in, a Service Port and a set of Composite inputs.
Next to this convenience panel, facing out on the back, is a larger connection panel that contains three HDMI inputs, two Component inputs (YPbPr) with matching stereo Audio Ins, one VGA (15 pin D-Sub) with a minijack Audio In, one Composite (with Audio), a digital Audio Out (optical), a stereo analog Audio Out and an IR Out (for controlling infrared remote-controlled devices through the TV).
The one RF antenna input connects to integrated NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners. Since the tuner system is Clear QAM compatible, you can attach your cable TV signal directly into the RF connector and tune in unscrambled cable stations.
The 37RV530U does not offer a USB port to upload JPEG and MP3 files to the TV. Nor does it have an Ethernet port to connect to your home computer network or the Internet. But none of the 37" TVs we are reviewing does include this feature. Also, this REGZA does not furnish a Picture-in-Picture capability. Of course, for many of you who just wish to watch TV and DVDs, these omissions shouldn't detract one wit from your viewing pleasure.
The remote control, with its good-sized white buttons against a dark gray face and a light gray base, is easy to pick out. Which is important to me, considering that my table is replete with remotes - nine, the last time I counted.
The remote is not backlit, but give it a little sunshine and the buttons glow light blue in the dark. The labels are easy to read and the most important buttons are within my thumb's reach. Though, I would prefer dedicated buttons for selecting Input sources.
I do like the way the Mute works. Press it once and it cuts the Volume in half. Click it again and the TV goes to full mute. One more time, and you are restored to full volume.
We have begun to measure the power consumption of our review units. Our process is straightforward. We plug the TV into a watt meter, called Watts up? Pro, and take a simple sampling of readings during the playback of a full screen video clip.
The first measurement is at the TV's default picture settings, which are often some form of Vivid, in this Toshiba, it's labeled Sports. This is usually a high number because it takes more power to maintain a bright picture.
Our Power Consumption measurement at the Sports default was between 167 and 169 watts. In their specifications, Toshiba does not state this Power Consumption value in watts, instead they give a 1.6 Arms (maximum current) rating.
We also take a reading after we adjust the picture to our preference, which is a much less bright image. The power consumption dropped to the range between 82 to 84W. Of course, depending on how you like to set up your TV, your mileage may vary.
On this REGZA, if you engage DynaLight, which automatically strengthens the black according to the level of darkness in a scene, then the Power Consumption readings fluctuate. With our Preference setting with DynaLight, the readings varied between 62 and 84W.
Finally, we turn off the TV and measure how much power it is using. Many older TVs still suck a lot of electricity even when they are switched off. This Toshiba includes a Power-On mode that addresses that issue. You have two options, Power-Saving or Fast.
In Fast mode, the TV will turn on in about two seconds from standby. But the price you pay is that the TV is drawing about 15W in Fast.
The manual says that Power-Saving keeps power consumption in standby below 3W. Our meter usually read 0W. Start up time from Power-Saving standby is about eight seconds.
To calibrate the monitor, we use the the Blu-ray version of the Digital Video Essentials DVD called HD Basics. We are playing the DVD on a Pioneer BDP-94HD Blu-ray player connected to the HDTV with an HDMI cable.
We use the test patterns to adjust black level, white level, and color bias. The player is set to output a 1080p signal, which is the native resolution of the REGZA 37RV530U.
The Picture menu provides the basic adjustments, Contrast, Brightness, Color (Saturation), Tint (Hue), Sharpness, and Backlight. Also, you have Picture Mode presets labeled Sports, Standard, Movie, PC and Preference.
Preference acts a bit differently than I expected. No matter which Picture Mode you select, when you make an adjustment from the defaults, like changing the Brightness, the mode automatically changes to Preference.
Now, the gotcha is if you go to another mode, say Movie, and alter one setting, then that becomes Preference. There is only one Preference and not a separate one for Movie or Sports. Toshiba realizes this could be problematic so they included a TheaterLock feature that locks all the settings that affect the picture mode setting. This in effect keeps your Preference settings protected.
The default mode is Sports, which pushes the Backlight and Contrast to full, which of course I immediately want to change. I instinctively search for a less vivid starting point. This time I picked the Standard mode and began by turning down the Backlight.
Next, I found the Color Temperature controls in the Advanced Picture Settings menu. You have three choices, Cool, Medium and Warm. I chose Medium. In the same menu are two other settings called B Drive and G Drive, which allow you to adjust the blueness or greeness of the picture. For the moment, I left well enough alone.
After a few minor tweaks to Contrast, Brightness and Color, I was enjoying a great looking image. Normally, I would pat myself on the back and sit back and start running through my favorite reference scenes.
But with four other HDTVs surrounding the REGZA, I started to perform some up close and personal comparisons. What I noticed was that the Toshiba had a slight reddish shading - not something that you would notice in casual viewing. I'm talking about the shadows on black tshirts having a slight red tint rather than a neutral gray. In bright, well lit scenes you would be hard pressed to see it.
The red was visible enough to me that I decided to fiddle with a number of different combinations of controls to try to neutralize it. Moving Tint towards green was not satisfactory. I finally went into the Color Master menu. From there, you can choose an individual color, (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Magenta, or Cyan) and fine tune its Hue, Saturation and Brightness. I lowered the Saturation of Red a few notches and that seemed to alleviate the tinging without washing out the reds.
Let me be clear, the picture quality was very good before this final tweak. And I don't necessarily see this slight redness as a flaw, more like a characteristic of the display - one that many people might prefer leaving as is.
Too me, who looks at TVs critically everyday, a clear indication of fine picture quality is when I am watching a program and I become engrossed in it. Then an especially exquisite shot catches my eye and I realize how good the color is or the detail or some other aspect of the picture. By pulling me out of the moment, I become aware of how comfortable I was with the HD experience.
I'm not saying that the image is perfect all the time. You may wish to tweak occasionally. Black levels could be deeper. And I recommend that you experiment with features like DynaLight, Dynamic Contrast and Static Gamma.
But with HD content, you should be pleased unless you are hypercritical. In addition, standard definition material looks pretty good. This REGZA even has a fairly wide viewing angle.
Alas, life and TVs have their warts. For me, the PC performance could be better. I connected my laptop through the VGA Out to the TV's VGA In. I soon found out what the manual confirmed, the highest compatible resolution through the VGA connection is either 1360 x 768 or 1280 x 1024. With my setup, I could only eke out 1024 x 768.
I just think it is a shame to waste all the TV's native resolution pixels. If you want to see the full 1920 x 1080 pixels, then you need to connect your computer through an HDMI input on the TV.
The image I did see with my VGA connection looked dandy. But unless you have a PC with a DVI or HDMI out, I would suggest that you look elsewhere for a 37" TV that can do double duty as a PC monitor.
The integrated pair of 10W speakers work well enough for general TV watching in a bedroom. To my ears, the default settings sound too bright.
If you want to be a sound engineer, Toshiba does not provide many audio tools. For example, the Audio menu has no presets like Rock or Jazz.
To beef up the sound, I tried the Dynamic Bass Boost control, but even at Low, it had a tendency to rumble and garble voices. For me, I decided to turn down the Treble and turn on Voice Enhancement.
In the TV audio world, the sound was OK. Just please don't be fooled into believing that it can compare to a separate dedicated audio system.
The Toshiba REGZA 37RV530U produces a delightful HD picture and audio good enough for casual TV viewing.