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REVIEWS / TVS & LARGE DISPLAY

Who Has The Best LCD TV: Sony, Toshiba Or Samsung?

By David Richards | Wednesday | 18/07/2007

EXCLUSIVE SHOOT OUT: A bitter battle is set to break out among TV vendors and it is not going to be a case of LCD TV Vs plasma but a battle about who has the best LCD TV technology. This week SmartHouse got a taste what is set to come in coming months when Toshiba threw down the gauntlet to both Sony and Samsung two of the biggest LCD TV players in the market.

Toshiba claim that they have the superior panel and a superior LCD processor that delivers images to a screen that are more "natural" than other competitors in the market. Sony, they claim, are artificially stimulating the colour in their Bravia LCD TV screens to give a bright colourful appearance where as Samsung are failing to deliver on their "black" is superior


Click to enlarge Samsung LA40R81
proposition.

Toshiba claim that the Samsung black in their LCD TVs is so black that it is failing to deliver detail when an image is processed to the panel resulting in TV watchers experience a black image in place of detail.

So in an effort to get to the bottom of who is right, we compared three basic LCD TV models from all three manufacturers.
The models in our bench test were the following LCD TVs.

From Toshiba, we compared  the 42C3000 with the Samsung LA40R81 and the Sony Bravia KDL 40V2000. All are 40-inch LCD TVs (the Toshiba is a 42-incher, as there isn't a 40-inch model) currently being sold by retailers. They are all entry level models that sell for sub $3,000 and all TVs are WXGA  models with a wide screen resolution of 1366x768 pixels.

The first thing that we ensured was that all models were set to the factory default. The inbound content was generated from


Click to enlarge Sony KDL 40V2000
a Toshiba HD DVD player with a splitter delivering the same source content to all three screens. All screens were connected via a Belkin HDMI cable. We also checked that the settings were as close to equal as we could get.

The source content was a video of the Greek Island of Mykonos. After running the video through a number of times we noticed a distinct difference with each model.The Sony Bravia KDL 40V2000 LCD TV did have a distinct brightness to the colour delivered to the screen. The blues were highly vibrant and noticeably different from both the Toshiba C3000 and the Samsung LA40R81 screen colours.

However, it was in the detail where one clearly noticed a difference between the 3 LCD TV models. Having the benefit of operating from one source allowed us to freeze frame all three screens and using a Sony Digital SLR camera I photographed several frames of the video source.


Click to enlarge

In this shot there is distinct colour difference between each TV The one on the left is the Sony Bravia. The middle screen is the Toshiba LCD TV and the far right the Samsung LCD TV.


Click to enlarge
In these shots the woman in the middle is wearing a necklace. this is clearly visible on the Toshiba screen. On the other two screens the outline was visible but not the detail. On the Samsung we struggled to view the necklace all together.


A close inspection of the digital photographs revealed a distinct difference. Frame after frame, the Samsung screen lacked a lot of detail. A woman wearing a different top and skirt with two subtle tones of black between the top and the bottom was clearly visible on the Toshiba model but totally lost on the Samsung model. With the Sony Bravia model the difference was only just noticeable.

In a café scene the fine detail of a cabinet could be seen via the Toshiba LCD screen but totally lost on both the Samsung and Sony LCD TV models.

In another test we observed the same images from a video camera being pumped to all three screens and in this test we were able observe the source image and the screen image. The most natural of screens was the Toshiba followed by the Sony. However the Sony Bravia LCD TV did present a very vivid colour while the Samsung was very black.

When I went back and checked the settings of all three screens the Samsung screen was still set to default along with the other two screens. the contrast and brightness were also all set to default.


Click to enlarge

What Toshiba claims is that their LCD TV engine produces a more natural colour using a new technology called Meta Brain Pro 100 which is capable  a better picture quality by minimizing motion blur images that is commonly found in LCD TV.

Conclusion

When I first started these tests I was totally sceptical. I was looking for a reason for the distinct difference between models. Was it the source content calibrated to work better with a Toshiba TV? Were the factory setting totally out of alignment between models.

Despite checking the settings and the cables and the feeding of the source content I finally had to accept that the Toshiba LCD TV was a distinctly better LCD TV picture. The colours appeared natural. But the real standout was in the detail.

Images not visible on the Samsung and in some cases the Sony model were clearly visible on the new Toshiba LCD TV.
But at the end of the day all three models were set up as close as one gets in an LCD TV purchased from a retail store and while the idea of bringing in a specialist LCD TV technician to calibrate any TV you are buying is a great idea the cost is around $125 an hour. So I guess it's down to what's on the shop floor and in this simple shoot out the new Toshiba LCD TV technology is an absolute standout.

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