46UX600U Features and Build Quality
Toshiba has come a long way since it opted to pursue better quality televisions and displays over thinner models. Now, it seems, they have accomplished both. What's most impressive about the new Toshiba 46UX600U is that, at just 2-inches thick, it's the thinnest design for a Toshiba flat panel yet. It's "Air Lagoon" design also helps make the TV look even thinner than it already is and enhances the aesthetic of this attractive display.
At just under $1700, the Toshiba 40UX600U is positioned as a mid-to-high-end product that goes up against the mainstream offerings of all of the major players - and holds it own extremely well. It even matches the price of Vizio's XVT472SV series, but exchanges 120Hz and network features for the 240Hz of the competing display (which has no network or widget-style streaming applications). Let's run through several of the key features:
- ARC (Audio Return Channel)
This is one of the first displays on the market that features the new HDMI 1.4 spec Audio Return Channel (ARC). This allows the set to decode ATSC and QAM channel information and then send up to Dolby Digital Plus across the existing HDMI cable back to your ARC-compatible A/V receiver. That means no more running an additional coax or TOSlink cable back to your audio receiver.
- VUDU Apps/Widgets
The Widgets feature of the 46UX600U are really just video podcasts that are brought int through a system that seems to be branded as "VUDU apps". They do include such services as Pandora, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and Twitter, but for the most part they seem to be video podcast channels. YouTube gets called up as a separate application and Netflix, the popular media streaming and DVD/BD rental service is completely absent. In addition, there seems no way to download additional apps of any kind, save for those installed during routine software updates.
- Gaming Mode
The 46UX600U comes with a Gaming Mode whereby the television will bypass most of its video processing circuitry to cut off 48ms of lag that would otherwise take place when using the display. This helps tremendously when gaming requires as little lag as possible. Games that involve music syncopation , such as those from the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises make this a very necessary and useful feature.
- ClearFrame 120Hz Processing
ClearFrame is 120Hz processing that performs frame interpolation, rendering an additional frame in between each real frame of video. When combined with the Film Stabilization mode it works to eliminate motion judder. We never saw a significant effect to increase resolution during motion as we've seen with similar systems, but the thing is - the picture always looks good. I mean real good on this television. While there was very little visible improvement with the system on or off, the end result is that the TV simply has an amazing picture.
- Expert Mode
You can accurately set tint and hue controls by disabling the red and green colors on this set, plus you can check for color decoder errors using a SMPTE bar pattern. This is a great feature to have an exceeds even Samsung's "Blue Only mode".
- Auto Brightness Sensor
When the Auto Brightness Sensor feature is set to 'On', the TV will automatically optimize the backlighting levels to suit ambient light conditions. There is even a Backlight Adjustment Pro feature that allows you to customize the backlight level of the display in various ambient light conditions. In this way you can ensure the backlight is fully up during your home's version of daylight hours (if, for example, you never get full sunlight).
Not as convenient as a local dimming system, this feature dims and raises the black levels in accordance with the content on the screen. This results in an artificially enhanced contrast ratio that is generally pleasing for most viewers who do not have adequately light-controlled rooms.
- Dolby Volume
This technology is designed to provide a natural dynamic control to reduce volume peaks, but without losing the detail present in a soundtrack. It certainly works, however it also affects the natural dynamic range of the soundtrack and we found it greatly affected intelligibility of dialogue. We suspect the effect varies from room to room, so experiment on your own to see what your preference is for your location.
Designed to eliminate the 5-6 second delay inherent in switching between HDMI inputs, this technology reduces the amount of time it takes to lock on to a different HDMI source signal. We continue to like the way this works and we noticed a snappier response when switching between inputs.
Delivery and Build Quality
The Toshiba arrived truck freight and seemed well-packed. We were surprised at how narrow the box was that it shipped in, having been used to a much wider set previously. When we unboxed it and got a look at its narrow dimensions and beautiful styling, we were very pleasantly surprised. The 46UX600U comes with a glass border that gradually blends into the background, dubbing it "Air Lagoon". The design also helps make the TV look even thinner than it already is and really enhances the aesthetic design.
While it comes with a stand, this set really demands to be installed on a wall in a "floating" configuration. With the wires hidden, this is a beautiful television and one that will work well with almost any flat panel mounting system on the market. At 2-inches thick it will also have the correct depth with which to match up to most soundbars and on-wall speaker systems.
There are two locations where the display's inputs are to be found:
On the rear we have two down-firing HDMI inputs, an optical TOSlink output, RF antenna/cable input, an HD15 PC input and an 1/8-inch analogue audio connection
On the side, Toshiba's 46UX600U has two additional HDMI inputs, two USB inputs (one is dedicated for the included WLAN adapter), SD card, and composite/component video inputs, This is also where the hard controls are for channel, volume, menu and input.
We verified that the Toshiba 46UX600U correctly retains independent picture controls for each input (something that all but the most cost-cutting generic displays will do). The backlight can also be configured for each input independently, which can be a good or bad feature depending upon your desired use of the television.
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