Cinema Series With a full-matrix array of LEDs in the backlight, Toshiba’s REGZA SV670 Cinema Series delivers more uniform light coverage than other LED TVs while maintaining brightness in white areas of the picture. Toshiba

Advertisement: Savvy flat-panel shoppers have added a new acronym to their lexicon: LED. It stands for “light-emitting diode,” and represents a revolutionary breakthrough in HDTV picture quality. LED TVs are alone in their ability to deliver the deep, inky blacks that give an HDTV realistic image contrast and natural, vibrant colors. But for all the buzz, not all LED TVs are the same. That’s why industry innovator Toshiba went the extra mile to create the ultimate HDTV, the new 55- and 46-inch REGZA SV670 Cinema Series.

Video experts know that a secret to achieving great picture quality is reproducing deep black. Few HDTVs can do that. Plasma panels, for example, glow in the absence of a TV signal; just watch the screen in a darkened room as it transitions between commercials. This “idle brightness” is required to insure that the screen responds quickly when the picture comes back on.

Meanwhile, LCD TVs create an image with liquid crystal pixels that control the output from a backlight behind the screen. When the video signal calls for black, the liquid crystals close down like a shutter to block the light. But the fluorescent backlight used in conventional LCDs must remain at least partially on all the time, even behind the dark areas of the image. Given the nature of LCD displays, some bleed-through of light is inevitable.

Engineers have now solved this problem by replacing the fluorescent bulb with an array of tiny LEDs. By monitoring the incoming video signal, the TV can dim or even turn off the backlight on the fly in those areas that demand it. The result: deep, dark blacks that give the image added depth and help colors and bright highlights pop off the screen like never before.

Seems simple enough, right? But buyer beware: there are different types of LED backlights. One common approach puts rows of LEDs only around the outer edge of the screen and bounces their light off a reflector to acheive full screen coverage. While edge-lighting can be an effective solution where cost is of concern, it can’t deliver light across the full screen surface with the near-perfect uniformity of a full matrix of LEDs behind the entire screen. And the “zone lighting” of an edge array always results in some dimming of nearby white areas whenever the backlight is shut down to improve the blacks. That affects the reproduction of highlights.

These are pitfalls that Toshiba made sure to avoid in its new high end SV670. First, the set’s FocaLight LED backlight acheives superb brightness uniformity with a full-matrix LED array. Then, “local dimming” technology allows precise control over the LEDs to deliver deep black only where it’s needed, maintaining peak white brightness in the lighter portions of the image. Consequently, FocaLight helps the SV670 acheive a previously unattainable 2 million:1 dynamic contrast ratio! If LED backlighting is the better mousetrap, then Toshiba’s FocaLight must be the better, better mousetrap.

Toshiba didn’t stop at an improved LED system. The SV670 enjoys several other advancements shared across Toshiba’s 2009 REGZA family. Top models, including the SV670 and the conventionally-backlit ZV650, use new ClearScan 240™ technology that combines traditional 120 Hz techniques with pulsing of the backlight to refresh the image 240 times a second, noticeably improving the clarity of fast action. A CrystalCoat™ Contrast Enhancer screen coating rejects ambient light that can wash out the image, producing up to a 30% improvement of contrast in bright rooms. All REGZA models now feature a 5th Generation processing engine that provides smooth transitions between light and dark areas of the image and improved upconversion to the screen’s native 1080p resolution. And three Toshiba models are the first ever with Dolby Volume, a sophisticated circuit that evens the volume of commercials and different source components while maintaining better sound quality than other solutions. Finally, top REGZA models boast Toshiba’s new Deep Lagoon design, a striking alternative to traditional gloss black that recalls an ocean meeting the seashore. The SV670 adds a seamless Infinity Flush Front for an even more stylish effect.

Scott Ramirez, Toshiba’s VP of marketing, summed it up best. “For 2009, we incorporated a wide range of advanced, robust technologies to create an all-new level of REGZA LCD TV,” he said. “We didn’t just make LED TV; we innovated by utilizing superior Local Dimming. We didn’t just use higher frame rates; we innovated with new Backlight Scanning technology. We didn’t just wrap everything in high-gloss black; we innovated by creating the stunning new Deep Lagoon Design. The new REGZA is more than our dealers and consumers expected, and the response has been nothing short of amazing.”