Toshiba 40TL963 - A Bit Of A Struggle

10/2/2012 9:13:57 AM

Ratings: 3/5

Price: $825

Description: Toshiba 40TL963

Toshiba 40TL963

At $825, this 40in TV is the cheapest set in this test. But don’t let that fool you into thinking Toshiba has scrimped on features. This set is fully kitted out with internet-enable smart features, has four HDMI ports and two USB ports, Freesat and Freeview HD tuners, and active 3D.

Toshiba Places is where you can view online multimedia content, and the media hub is organized into categories for TV, Movie on demand, Music, Social Place, News, and Games/Apps. Along with the now-standard BBC iPlayer and YouTube, you can also watch movies via Acetrax and view pictures from Flickr. You can make different accounts in Toshiba Places for different users, making the smart experience customized to your personal settings.

You can also connect your TV to your home network via wired or wireless connection to pull up images, music and videos stored on external devices. You can also plug memory sticks into either of the two USB ports. Files supported are JPEG pictures, MP3 and MP4 audio, and DivX+HD and MKV videos. WAV files are not playable.

Active-shutter 3D glasses aren’t included, but you can buy them online for around $67.5 a pair.

Set up is a bit of a struggle

Description: Toshiba 40TL963 - A Bit Of A Struggle

This is a good-looking set, with a thin grey bezel surrounding a screen that turns at a convenient angle on its stand. It also comes with a rather large remote control, as well as a smartphone app.

Setting up the TV, however, is more of a struggle compared to the others in this test. We always use a THX calibration disc for optimizing the picture, but even after that we spent a long time fiddling with the brightness and contrast levels to get a more satisfactory picture. The contrast on this set is not strong enough for colors to make an impact; dark scenes are swathed in murky shadows that overwhelm subtle details. Brighter scenes such as those in daylight fare better, and you can appreciate the clean and decently detailed picture, especially when watching standard-def daytime TV.

The color balance is on the lean side, and this lack of enthusiasm gives a dulled picture even with high-definition Blu-ray pictures: details blend into the background as edges between objects aren’t as clearly defined. Skin tones aren’t as natural looking as others either.

Description: Toshiba 40TL963G

A more overriding issue is the LED backlighting, which struggles to be uniform. There are splotches of uneven backlighting that clearly permeate the screen and affect what you’re watching.

Watching DVDs on this set, on the other hand, is a much more pleasant experience. We put on Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional, and when up scaling to 1080p the TL963 is capable of delivering clean and smooth images that are decently detailed. The contrast issues are still there, but still, it’s good news for those with a more DVDs than Blu-rays in their collections.

The bargain price means this set could have been a four-star product like its fellow 42VL963 to the right, with its decent standard-definition viewing and spread of features, but the backlight issue has to knock it down a star.

Remote control app

Name: Toshiba TV Remote

Ratings: 3/5

Price: Free

Devices: Android, iOS

The grey design looks dull and outdated, and while there are plenty of controls they’re not intuitively laid out, and it doesn’t take advantage of a smartphone’s flexibility. Compared with the other apps in this test, it’s an underwhelming experience.

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