Toshiba 42ZV555

When bad standard def goes good

Toshiba’s previous generation of LCD TVs had a problem. For while they were generally decent enough with high definition, they struggled to handle standard definition as convincingly as many rivals.

Cue Resolution+: a powerful new image processing system from Toshiba designed to upscale standard definition to the high resolutions demanded by today’s HD screens much more effectively than anything Toshiba – or potentially any other brand – has managed before.

Easy cell

Resolution+ is built around technology taken from Toshiba’s highly regarded PC Cell Processors, and so should hopefully prove unusually well equipped to handle the real-time pixel and frame interpolation calculations necessary to convert standard def to HD.

Before we find out if this is actually the case, though, we’ve got some more basic stuff to cover. Starting with the TV’s looks, which while not exactly groundbreaking are at least pretty nice, mostly thanks to the slenderness of the bezel and the illuminated Toshiba logo.

The set’s connectivity, on the other hand, is slightly disappointing. For it only provides three HDMIs where we might have expected a premium set to have four, and there are no multimedia sockets like USB or Ethernet jacks.

Tinkerer's paradise

Happily the set gets back on track with its features. For as well as the all-important Resolution+ system, the 42ZV555 has 100Hz processing to improve motion, Toshiba’s Active Vision LCD processing to boost colours, contrast, and sharpness, and a healthy set of user adjustments including a comprehensive colour management system.

So to the moment of truth. Does Resolution+ really make a difference? And the short answer is, yes, it does!

Particularly impressive is how much sharper it helps standard definition pictures look versus Toshiba’s previous LCD offerings. More importantly, standard def pictures also look sharper than on the vast majority of rival brands’ TVs.

We’re not talking about levels of clarity and definition to rival a true HD signal, and there’s a tendency for the processing to sharpen any noise that might be in a source as well as the ‘proper’ picture information. But it’s still a very impressive effort overall.

Not that the 42ZV555 is only interested in standard definition, mind you. It does very nicely with true HD sources too, leaving them looking sharp, vibrant and three-dimensional.

Grey matter

The sad thing about the 42ZV555 is that having nailed Toshiba’s old standard def problems, it falls prey to another common LCD shortcoming: indifferent black level response. Dark scenes look rather greyed over, and a little short of shadow detail versus the best the LCD and plasma worlds have to offer.

It doesn’t help, either, that the picture loses contrast quite dramatically if you have to watch it from much of an angle.

At which point we should bring the 42ZV555’s price in to play. For £800 really isn’t dear for a 42in TV with 100Hz and upscaling of the quality found in the 42ZV555.

So although its black levels stop it being anything like a TV classic, it’s still well worth considering if you mostly watch standard def and don’t have wads of cash burning a hole in your pocket.


42in LCD TV with Resolution+
42in 1920 x 1080 LCD screen
18000:1 contrast ratio
500 cd/m2 brightness
100Hz 24p mode
Analogue TV tuner, DVB-T tuner


Video ports: Component in, composite in, 3 x HDMI in, RF in, 2 x SCART in
HDCP-compliant: Yes
Audio ports: 1/4in headphone out
Data ports: Infra-red
Expansion: CAM
Speakers: Integrated
Peripherals: Remote control
Dimensions: 80 x 22 x 55 cm (WDH)
Weight: 14kg
Features: Resolution+, Noise reduction, 100Hz, Active Vision processing, colour management


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