on 16 August 2012
Firstly I must say I don't consider myself a total A/V nut, but do take my audio-visuals pretty seriously. I don't usually bother reviewing things, but since Amazon seems to be just about the only place where there are any reviews of this set (wonder why?) I thought I would help out anyone who, like me had a mid-range budget to spend and began to suffer from serious buyer-fatigue trying to figure out which of the hundreds of choices to go for.
I have broken this review up into segments.
My main use for this TV is DVD's and Blu-Rays and video gaming. I have not used it for standard TV at all, so cannot comment, although if YouTube/iPlayer/4OD etc through the Xbox 360 is anything to go by, I imagine standard TV (which has a higher quality than any of those sources to begin with) looks pretty fantastic.
As with any serious bit of A/V kit, you need to be prepared to spend quite a bit of time getting the various settings how you want them - the "standard" mode straight out-of-the-box will probably look pretty good compared to your last TV if you came from a non-HD TV or even just 720p, but there's really no point in spending this much on a TV if you don't care enough about the image to spend a lot of time tweaking the finer controls to get it just right.
Once you do get it right, Blu-rays (through a Playstation 3, which is still one of the best around) and games (through an HDMI cable at 1080p) look absolutely fantastic, and you'll find yourself wanting to watch all your films and play all your games again just to see how they look on this. There is a depth and clarity that again, assuming this is an upgrade for you, you have probably never seen before (even in shop displays where they rarely seem to have them tuned right for the environment they're being shown in).
DVD playback varies wildly (as they tend to do) and the clarity of this TV tends to show up flaws with badly-transferred DVD's, whereas it makes others look a lot better - pot luck really, but one drawback of this TV is that you'll end up wanting to own everything on Blu-ray once you've seen how much better it looks! All the film grain and tiny detail comes back again, and they run as smooth as could be, without a jot of judder or blur. You will see your favourite films in a whole new way - its the visual equivalent of the first time you heard your favourite album on headphones and heard all the things in the sound that you never knew were there (younger readers ignore that bit).
There is a "game" mode for video games, apparently to help prevent lag, but personally I didn't really find it a problem even on the normal mode, even on shooters like Call Of Duty, where precision and zero lag are essential.
Every non-HD source is upscaled to 1080p, and so almost everything looks far better than it would if you tried to stretch a normal picture out to 46". I have been quite taken aback by how much better certain DVD's and MP4's etc have looked on this TV.
My only complaints with regard to picture is that the black tones can be so dark at times that it takes some getting used-to - in fact, your old TV probably displayed black so badly (in comparison) that blacks were actually mushy greys which made the whole picture appear lighter. For a while I couldn't get used to this and always thought it was too dark, but as I've become accustomed, I have realised its just my expectations of blacks being greys, which of course they should not be. Secondly, there is LED edge-lighting on this TV which prevents light drop-off (vignetting) at the edges of the picture, however I really don't feel its necessary and in certain scenes, there's an annoying lighter stripe down both sides of the picture, and seemingly no way to turn it off - I hope this issue is addressed in a future firmware update. It isn't a major gripe, its just more noticable at some times than others, and the fact that there doesn't seem to be any way to turn it off is quite an oversight on Toshiba's part.
I suppose I haven't really put this feature fully through its paces, but know enough to give a reasonable evaluation I think - so far I have tried 3D (with 3rd-party Active-Shutter glasses at £25 a pair) in 3 different forms. Firstly, I have Hugo on 3D blu-ray - it looks amazing. I missed it at the cinema and thought the chance to see it in 3D had passed, then I realised I could now see it on this TV, and wasn't disappointed. Realistic, life-like and very clear indeed (none of the shadows or "ghosts" that some reviewers have reported) and exactly as you would hope it would look in 3D, not some half-house substitute. Secondly, I have played Halo Anniversary in 3D mode on Xbox - looks great, the gun infront of you seems to stick right out of the TV! But the graphics in the game are not the best, so it is perhaps not the best example, but it was good to see that this mode seems to work perfectly convincingly too. I think you would get pretty tired eyes after any more than about half-an-hour's 3D gaming though. Thirdly, I have tried watching various sources in the "fake" 3D mode this TV offers - it's an interesting enough novelty for 10mins or so, but isn't really a worthwhile feature for me (although I see some reviewers on here disagree) as the TV doesn't really know what's supposed to be in the foreground or background in any given scene and so just makes it up, with completely random degrees of success, so you just end up with a weird looking "layered" picture, but not one that often convinces as 3D. As I say, its a cute novelty, but not really a feature worth serious consideration in my opinion - perhaps some sources respond better than others.
Personally I thought the sound from the set was very good for such a slim TV (its about the width of two fingers!) - its never going to be as good as through a proper system - if you're thinking about spending this much on a TV and you're not going to plug it into a stereo/surround system, don't bother with it at all, go and buy something cheaper and simpler.
I did try this out with Toshiba's own USB dongle, which connected fine. However, the interface is ridiculous and does not explain how you enter upper or lower-case lettering (I tried everything!) to give your password for your network, and neither does the instruction manual, so I gave up and sent the dongle back to Amazon - I can do everything I need to through the Xbox and PS3 anyway, but beware of this if connecting to the internet is important and you don't have any other devices. You can also stream media directly from your PC with the dongle, but I can do that with my Xbox, so again, no real need for me. If you have any interest in gaming at all, I'd seriously consider whether you want invest £75 in an Xbox 360 rather than £25 in single-purpose Toshiba dongle (which arguably ought to have come free with the £600+ TV you just bought!) - the Xbox does everything the online features of the TV can do, only far, far better (you can use a keyboard rather than picking out letters with a remote control), as well as offering Sky, Netflix etc. And I suggest Xbox rather than PS3 because its far cheaper and runs media so much smoother (I have both, and no particluar allegiance one way or the other), but the Xbox will cost £40 a year online fees.
I love this feature - plug in a USB stick and you can access any photos, music and videos (as long as the file type agrees, but it will play most types of video file, mp3's and jpegs) copied from your PC and it actually has a really nice interface on the remote, which makes it quite a pleasurable experience and a lot less hassle than firing up your gaming console every time you want to do it. MP4's, AVI's and MKV's also (again, as long as you work on getting your setting right) look fantastic on this TV, which upscales them and compensates for some of the quality issues that tend to come with such files. Also, as its Toshiba, you don't have to worry about any of the Cinavia or other copy-protection headaches that come with the PS3 or doing the same through your Blu-ray player.
Digital TV performance (watching normal TV with an aerial):
Again, I haven't tried this out, but if the picture quality on lower-res sources such as iPlayer or MP4 is anything to go by, there's no reason to assume it wouldn't also look great, assuming your signal is reasonably strong.
Looks fantastic, clean neat lines that would impress anyone, has glass over the screen (as opposed to the flimsy plastic you get on a lot of LCD's, which can sag or warp over time), anti-reflective screen (although you will always get SOME glare if you don't think about where you position the TV) and feels solid.
The remote control is a bit of a pig, and to my mind seems to be about 1/4 as long again as it needs to be, but everything is laid out nicely, works very responsively, and is generally comfortable despite being slightly over-sized.
Everything you could need really, 4 HDMI slots to take the majority of the work, plus RGB component, a couple of USB slots, scart socket (in case you somehow end up trapped in 1999 and have this TV with you) etc.
Have not tried this feature. Be aware that not every type of USB HDD will connect or work properly, you will have to format it (remove all other content) and the content you record will only play back on this TV.
All in all, I am really happy I settled on this TV after more than a fortnight of intensive, incessant reading, browsing and stressing over what to get. In the end I went with one with the fewest reviews on the web, but am glad I did, especially at the price compared to other sets.
2 weeks in and its still making me go "wow" occasionally, the picture is just lovely and makes watching just about anything an absolute pleasure.
That's me done, so just to summarise, significant pro's and con's:
Amazing picture, and that's what really counts here.
3D looks great.
Good sound quality.
Great connectivity to various kinds of media and sources - there's not a lot this TV can't connect to.
Upscales media so almost everything looks remarkably good.
The set itself is sleek, stylish and looks great in the living room (or, I imagine, on the wall). The stand revolves too, which is handy.
LED edge-lighting can't be turned off, and is occasionally a little obtrusive.
Instruction manual doesn't cover everything you might want to know, some of which is quite important.
Remote control is a little larger than it needs to be, and thus slightly unwieldy.
Internet connectivity requires additional purchase.
3D viewing requires additional purchase (although not uncommon, there are a number of sets that have included up to 8 free pairs of 3D glasses!) bear in mind if you have a family of 4, you will be looking at an additional £100 minimum to get everyone watching in 3D.
If placed on the included stand, the TV feels solid enough while free-standing, but is very front-heavy and it would only take a glancing blow to send it toppling forward.