Here's something we don't see very often: Toshiba's new XV550 and XV560 would appear to the untrained eye to be identical. Even skimming down the specs list doesn't give us any clues. The answer? Toshiba is giving televisions with different paint jobs different model numbers. While many companies will give a TV a different name under different regions, outside of the car world a slim, silver trim doesn't justify a new name.
The impetus behind the new series, it seems, are the addition of a "Gaming" mode and the next iteration of the company's processing engine: "Power Meta Brain". The company's 100Hz Clear Frame technology remains.
On the specs front it's a little light-on with a relatively low panel contrast ratio of 1100:1 and an 8ms pixel response time. Of course, the resolution is 1920x1080p, and there is the generous provision of four HDMI ports. Meanwhile, the 52-inch is a little higher specced with a 3000:1 contrast ratio.
There is one point of difference between the XV550 and XV560 that we need to elaborate on, the XV560 includes a 52-inch model whereas the XV550 only carries a 42- and 46-inch.
Apart from a couple of small tweaks, we're a little mystified by the need for these new ranges. Spec-wise the older, cheaper XV500 outperforms it — in pure contrast levels alone — by a factor of two. It even looks better cosmetically.
Flat panel manufacturers are struggling at the moment — especially companies like Toshiba based in Japan. The Koreans seem to be mopping up at the moment in Australia with favourable exchange rates and up-to-date feature sets. While the XV550 and XV560 look like two perfectly serviceable television sets, the cynics in us think they could be there to artificially inflate the size of the company's range. To "look busy" in other words. Without testing them we can't say for sure, but the XV500 might be a better deal.