The wit, wisdom, zen, and philosophy of Paul Diamond Blow.

Product Review: Toshiba 32C120U 32" LCD TV
Great HDTV for the Price!

by Paul Ace Diamond "Huggy" Blow

The Toshiba 32C120U 32" LCD TV: front view, and rear connections

I finally decided to make the jump into the new HDTV age and upgrade my home entertainment system (my TV) from my 12-year-old 27" GE television (that refuses to die) to a new, state-of-the-art 32" HDTV set so that I could enjoy the benefits of the new technologies that have come about in the last ten years. I decided a 32" HDTV would be the perfect size for my rather modest-sized living room, and so I set out to the nearest Best Buy store to comparison shop for the best set my $300 budget could afford.

Comparing the $200-$300 32" HDTV sets in the Best Buy showroom, I found that the LCD screens looked better to me than the LED screens. The Toshiba 32C12OU LCD set looked to me to have the best picture in it's class and price range, and since Toshiba is a brand name I trust (much more than Coby or Insignia, or the other cheapo brands) plus the fact it was on sale for $219 that week, I took the plunge and purchased one. So far I have been very happy with my purchase.

Picture quality:
This is the most important aspect for purchasing a HDTV set, of course. As I said, this Toshiba set had a superior picture to all the other sets in it's class and price range ($200-$300). The colors were more vivid and the blacks were nice and black without losing details in the shadows that the LED TVs seemed to lose. I have heard that supposedly LED screens are the "new thing" and are supposed to be superior to LCD screens, but to my eye that is not the case when comparing this Toshiba LCD to the LED sets.

There are many picture settings you can adjust in the menu, such as brightness, gamma, back light, saturation, tint, etc., and I tweeked the settings a little bit more to my liking, but quite frankly the picture quality is fine straight out of the box.

When playing DVD movies you can adjust the "Theatre" settings on the Toshiba to make the picture fit the screen better. The options are 4:3, Native (when hooked up via HDMI cable), Full (which stretches the picture horizontally), Theatre 1 (good for widescreen movies), Theatre 2 (good for letterbox movies) and Theatre 3 (good for letterbox movies with subtitles.) I've found the Theatre 1 or 2 settings work best for most DVD movies.

Sound Quality:
The first thing I noticed about the sound of this Toshiba HDTV is that, well, it sucked. The sound from the internal speakers is trebly and tinny, as most HDTV sets speakers are. My 12-year-old GE set had a much better sound. I remedied this flaw by purchasing a new sound system (a stereo amp and two bookshelf speakers) so I now have the Toshiba's internal speakers set on "mute" and run all the sound through my stereo system.

The Toshiba 32C12OU has two HDMI ports for connecting to DVD players, video games, etc., as well as the basic component RCA jacks (with the red, blue, and green video ins and the two audio ins) for connecting to older non-HDMI DVD players. This Toshiba also has a PC VGA jack for connecting to a computer, which you do not find on many other HDTVs in this class and price range. Yes, you can use this 32" screen as a computer monitor if you so wish! Not only that, but this Toshiba also has a USB port for connecting USB devices such as flash drives. When a flash drive is inserted into the USB port, you are prompted to open up the Media Player utility. This will display all the files that are on the flash drive and will play MP3 audio files and display JPEG image files. You can even set the images to display as a repeating slide show with the music playing in the background. Very cool!

The Bottom Line: All in all, I have been happy with the Toshiba 32C12OU HDTV set. If you are looking for a quality 32" LCD or LED television under $300 this could be the set for you.