HDTV

Toshiba 55WX800U 55" LED Edge Lit LCD 3D HDTV

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

Upon unpacking the WX800 I immediately noticed its elegant high-class styling. This is Toshiba’s flagship flat-panel display and they made sure to give it a look appropriate to its $3,300 price tag. The front is one continuous sheet of glass rather than the usual screen surrounded by a bezel. When the TV is off, all you see is a featureless black panel; very chic. The glass is treated with a substance Toshiba calls Crystal Coat. It serves to cut down the effects of reflected light on the image. In practice, there is still a fair amount of reflection from room lighting. I recommend avoiding bright lights or sunny windows when installing this display. Front panel controls are all touch-sensitive; there are no buttons to spoil the landscape. The only thing that stands out is the Energy Star logo on the lower left. The base is brushed black aluminum with a chiseled-chrome upright. You can swivel the TV about 25 degrees in either direction. The chrome treatment continues with a thin strip along the bottom of the panel just in front of the down-firing speakers.

The back panel is thin metal with all inputs facing either down or to the side. The inputs are so close to the back of the TV, I had a bit of trouble plugging in an HDMI cable with a fat connector. Slim is the name of the game with this display. Even the analog jacks are 3.5mm minis rather than the usual RCA. An adaptor cable is included if you need to use the component or composite connections. In addition to the four HDMI inputs, there are one each of component (which Toshiba calls ColorStream), composite and VGA. Two USB inputs are included as well as a LAN port, an SD card slot, and an IR input. The lone RF connector lets you use the integrated ATSC or QAM tuners for box-free cable or over-the-air signals. The lone output is an optical TOSLink port. A byproduct of TVs becoming ever thinner is the non-removable power cord.

The WX800 has all the latest features one would expect in a big-screen TV. Of course 3D is front and center. Toshiba has not included a 3D conversion mode so only native content will show in 3D. Besides 3D Blu-ray, you’ll have to have one of the new 3D feeds from DirecTV before you put on those glasses. Compatibility extends to frame-packed, side by side and top/bottom formats. The TV does not ship with glasses. One pair was sent to me for the review. They are of the powered shutter type and the button battery which lasts around 75 hours is included along with a hard case and a lanyard. My first try-on seemed comfortable and I had no problem fitting them over my prescription eyeglasses.

Like many TVs today, the WX800 is Internet-capable. Streaming services are available from Netflix, Vudu and YouTube. Yahoo widgets are also included for things like weather, news and stock quotes and you can download more applications if you wish. To enable these features, simply hook up an Ethernet cable to the LAN port.

Backlighting is via edge-mounted LED arrays. Even though this was all the rage last year, it’s my first chance to review an LED TV. Honestly, I consider this a bigger deal than 3D. My initial impression upon powering up the WX800 was one of excellent contrast. A traditional CCFL-lit LCD does not look this good. While blacks aren’t as dark as the best plasmas, image depth has taken a huge leap forward thanks to LED technology. The LEDs are also part of the dynamic contrast feature called DynaLight. It’s not a zone dimming display but the backlight can be modulated very quickly to increase contrast without obvious brightness pumping.

Just as a reminder, "Edge Lit" LED displays, like the unit under review here, use LEDs along the edge of the flat panel and send their white light horizontally across the backside of the LCD pixels. There is a baffle of pits and valleys along which the light bounces so that the entire panel is illuminated evenly. This is the reason why the edge lit panel can be so thin. With Zone Dimming, there are blocks of LEDs, say around 100, with each block containing numerous LEDs, behind the pixels. Each block can be turned on or off, and brightnesses in between. Zone dimming gives a bit better even distribution of the light, but the downside is that the panel is much thicker. So, for those of you who want to mount a flat panel LED illuminated LCD HDTV on the wall, the edge lit variety will work best because it will not stick out from the wall but only an inch or so.

The remote is a traditional wand-style with full backlighting. It can be used to control five components in addition to the TV. There are quick access keys for NetTV and Yahoo widgets along with a 3D hotkey and a quick menu for changing things like screen aspect and picture mode. Transport controls are also included to operate a disc player. At the bottom are function keys to freeze the picture, change the aspect ratio, select the audio output mode and toggle closed captioning.