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REVIEW

 

TOSHIBA DPL TELEVISION

 

INTRO

Toshibaís latest 33-inch Dolby Pro Logic home cinema TV looks a lot smarter than its predecessor but one thing hasnít changed, and thatís the price

 

COPY

The Toshiba 3357 began life a couple of years ago as the 3339DB, a slightly podgy and somewhat breathless 33-inch Dolby Pro-Logic TV costing the best part of £1500. Toshiba seem to have taken note of our comments and this new version looks and sounds as though itís had a thorough workout; itís sleeker, trimmer and fitter, but the good news is the price remains the same.  

 

The squarer cabinet makes the big tube looks a lot less intimidating, from some angles it could almost pass for a widescreen set. Toshiba have kept the feature list simple and to the point, which has also helped to maintain the sensible price. In addition to the DPL decoder it has NICAM, fastext a five-mode digital sound processor (hall, theatre, disco, stadium and pseudo -- for mono sources), programmable timer, 16:9 display mode and thatís about it. No gimmicks or toys to speak of, but it does come with a matching console-stand -- with built-in centre-channel speaker --  plus a pair of small rear-channel speakers.

 

It has a better than average assortment of AV inputs, thereís two SCART sockets and two banks of phono/S-Video connectors, one next to the SCARTs, the other one is on the front, along with a headphone jack, behind a hinged flap. Thereís also an extra set of AV output sockets on the back panel and two rows of spring terminals for outboard front stereo, centre and rear channel speakers.

 

Toshiba still have some catching up to do when it comes to the latest convenience features, such as auto installation. The 3357ís sweep tuner is a real DIY job, though it does sort out station names on its own, providing the channel has teletext.  The on-screen display covers the usual manual picture and sound adjustments, there are also preset picture and sound Ďstyleí settings, to suit different kinds of software and room lighting.

 

Picture performance on our review sample was generally very acceptable which is just as well as large screens tend to exaggerate any flaws. Effects, such as screen flicker and line structure are also more noticeable on big screens like this one; if they trouble you itís worth checking out sets with 100Hz displays. The black invar mask tube has a wide contrast range; itís smooth and progressive, blacks are solid and whites are bright. The factory defaults all looked a little gloomy though itís simple enough to set and store your own preferences. Geometry and focus were both good; colour registration is satisfactory, though there was some slight smearing around the edges of heavily saturated colours. Tuner sensitivity is about average, with a reasonably good signal picture noise levels are very low.  

 

The built-in stereo speakers create a comparatively shallow stereo soundstage, itís not a problem if youíre seated within two or three metres of the screen, any further away and it might be a good idea to hook it up some satellite speakers. The amplifiers have been beefed up slightly, moreover the big cabinet and built-in sub-woofer provide a little more bass content than is normal on stereo and DPL TVs. This helps to make Dolby Pro-Logic performance more involving, though only when the wick has been fully turned up on the rear-channel speakers. The decoder works hard, extracting subtle effects and big bangs with equal precision.

 

Together the improvements to the specification for the 3339 have all been very worthwhile, adding up to more than just a simple facelift. More than ever this big Tosh is well worth considering if youíre after a fuss-free, one-box solution to home cinema.

 

VERDICT

TOSHIBA 3357DB, £1500 

Big screen performance at a sensible price; a likeable lump of a home cinema TV just got better, with sharper pictures, clearer sound and smarter looks

 

Features: 80cm (33-inch) 4:3 screen, 100-channel tuner, NICAM,  Dolby Pro-Logic, fastext, 5-mode DSP, sub-woofer, stand, on/off timer, centre-front and surround speaker, NTSC replay

Sockets: 2 x SCART, line-audio and composite video input/output (phono and S-Video), centre, front-stereo and rear channel speakers (spring terminals) front AV input (phono & S-Video), headphone (minijack)

Dimensions: 900 x 677 x 530mm

 

COMPETITORS

Ferguson 780PL,  £1290 not tested

Hitachi C2976TN (29-inch), £1000, HE30 90%

Sony KVA2942 (29-inch), £1000, HE14 75%

 

Picture quality            ****

Sound quality            ****

Build quality               ****

Features                     ***

Ease of use                 ****

 

VALUE FOR MONEY            85%

 

Toshiba UK Ltd,  telephone (01276) 62222

 

CAPTIONS

The centre-front speaker is built into the console stand, this has room below for a VCR and satellite tuner or laserdisc player

 

Rounded corners on the cabinet and stand have been squared off, giving the set a sleeker, less frumpy appearance

 

The cosmetics are very restrained, the only visible control is the on/off button, everything else, including the front AV inputs and headphone socket are hidden behind this drop-down flap

 

The supplied back-channel speakers are a little bigger than their predecessors but they still have to be pushed hard to get anything out of them

 

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” R. Maybury 1996 0202

 

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