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Toshiba 46LX177 46-inch LCD TV Washington DC

Toshiba is among the first to produce an LCD flat-panel TV that features twice the normal screen refresh rate—120 frames per second instead of 60. The intent is to improve visual detail in scenes with fast motion, which has been a weak spot for LCD TVs. Toshiba dubs this technology Clear Frame, and it’s available on the company’s top-of-the-line Cinema Regza 1080p sets.

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Toshiba 46LX177 46-inch LCD TV

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December 1, 2007 By David Birch-Jones

Like a drill sergeant haranguing new recruits to speed it up, Toshiba is among the first to produce an LCD flat-panel TV that features twice the normal screen refresh rate—120 frames per second instead of 60. The intent is to improve visual detail in scenes with fast motion, which has been a weak spot for LCD TVs. Toshiba dubs this technology Clear Frame, and it’s available on the company’s top-of-the-line Cinema Regza 1080p sets.

Toshiba converts conventional 60-hertz video to 120 hertz in the most effective but expensive way, analyzing adjacent frames and inserting an intermediate frame between them. This method requires a video processor with substantial horsepower.

When I receive a review sample of the company’s new 46LX177 46-inch LCD set, I am eager to find out how well Clear Frame works, so I immediately load a high-definition test disc: the Blu-ray version of Silicon Optix’ HQV Benchmark DVD. I call up a 1080-line interlaced test pattern with a rotating white bar. With the Clear Frame feature turned off, I can easily see typical LCD behavior, with the white bar’s leading and trailing edges smearing as it rotates. With the Clear Frame function activated, the smear is almost eliminated. Other elements of the test pattern confirm that the set’s video processor is doing a fantastic job of upconverting the 1080i pattern into a perfectly rendered 1080-line progressive image, a feat usually possible only with high-end video scaler chips from such companies as Faroudja, Gennum, and Silicon Optix. I switch over to broadcast HD programs, and seek out live sports, including golf, car racing, and extreme BMX biking, and find that while very fast action scenes seem to benefit little from the Clear Frame processing, I do notice improvements when the camera pans at a slower rate. The effect is not dramatic, but it is definitely an improvement over 60-hertz LCD screens.

Within the picture adjustment menu, I find an option to switch the set’s processor from Video to Film mode, which I evaluate with a 24-frame-per-second 2:3 pulldown 1080i test pattern. After the brief moment that it takes it to recognize the clip’s format, the TV produces a perfect result, with a rock-solid and crystal-clear rendition of all elements of the test pattern, a feat again usually only attainable by other sets equipped with one of the high-end scaler chipsets. I go back to video-originated, 30-frame-per-second 1080i material and find that the Film mode works equally well with that pattern—so you can just leave the set in Film mode all the time for the best picture.

The Film mode also reveals another feature, Film Stabilization, which Toshiba does not describe in its promotional materials. It’s an attempt to improve upon the inevitable "judder" that occurs when 24-frame-per-second film content is mastered to 30-frame-per-second video. During any filmed scene with p...

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