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Toshiba 40RV753B Review

Toshiba 40RV753DB

Rating: ★★★★☆

If your budget can’t quite stretch that far, then the company’s RV range packs many of the eye-catching features found on those premium models into traditional CCFL LCD sets, all for a more wallet-friendly price.

Toshiba calls RV its ‘everyday’ TV range, presumably because it’s aimed at people who aren’t necessarily looking for the ultimate picture quality – just a good-value set that’ll do a decent job with TV shows and the occasional Blu-ray movie.

But despite the alluring price tag you still get a lot of features for your money, the most significant of which is a built-in Freeview HD tuner that brings all three of those lovely high-definition channels to your screen through a rooftop aerial without a black box in sight.

The RV range comes in three sizes – 32in, 37in and 40in – making it ideal for modest sized rooms, but if you want anything bigger you’ll need to step up to the XV range, which includes a 46in set, or the WL range, which includes 46 and 55in models.

Aesthetically, the RV sets are characterised by their sleek, gloss-black finish, curved swivel stand and a gently gradated silver strip below the screen. There’s none of the flush-bezel jazziness of Sony’s Monolithic or LG’s Infinia sets – this frame is as chunky as they come – and compared with most LED sets, the Toshiba could be considered a little portly. But overall the 40RV735B is an attractive TV that’s sure to enhance any room.

Toshiba 40RV753B: Features

Toshiba 40rv753b

This year Toshiba has jumped on the DLNA networking bandwagon, and as a result the 40RV753B enables you to stream music, video and photos from Windows 7 laptops.

You’ll need to connect the set to your router via Ethernet, or buy an optional Toshiba USB dongle and hook it up wirelessly. The dongle (WLM-10U2) supports 802.11b/a/g/n and will set you back around £60, which is a fairly hefty premium, but it’s worth it for the added convenience.

At the heart of the 40RV753B is Meta Brain, the processing engine that pulls all the picture strings. Among the tech under its jurisdiction is Active Vision II, not the souped-up 100Hz or 200Hz versions found inside the SL and WL series respectively.

This aims to improve the picture in four key areas (colour, contrast, movement and detail) without any of the frame-insertion technology designed to reduce motion blur. That leaves the 40RV735B with bog standard 50Hz processing, but at this sort of price that doesn’t come as a massive surprise.

Also sheltering under the Meta Brain umbrella is a ‘re-engineered’ version of Resolution+, which is designed to make standard-definition pictures look like high-definition by sharpening up edges and detail in the areas that need it. On previous Toshiba sets the technology hasn’t quite lived up to the marketing hype, doing a better job with HD material than SD, so we’re keen to see how this new version fares.

Meta Brain also includes Auto View and Dolby Volume. The former uses an ambient light sensor to adjust the backlight automatically to suit to the conditions of the room (dimmer in darkness, brighter in well-lit rooms) while the former keeps the sound at a constant level to prevent aggressive double glazing adverts scaring the bejesus out of you.

Connectivity is excellent. You get four HDMI inputs, three on the back and one on the side, which should be enough to cater for most people’s collection of hi-def kit. They’re joined by Scart, component and PC (D-Sub) inputs, plus an optical digital audio output, an Ethernet port and a common interface slot for adding pay TV channels.

Also on the side are two USB ports that let you play MP3 and JPEG files from storage devices, which is a nice touch at this price. One of these can be used for the wireless USB dongle.

Toshiba 40RV753B: Ease of use

Toshiba 40rv753b

Toshiba hasn’t done any major tweaking to the menu system on this year’s TVs. Hit the Menu button – which is unhelpfully hidden away amid a cluster of other keys at the bottom of the remote – and up pops a black box in the middle of the screen, with a row of icons along the top and the relevant options listed below.

It’s clear, concise and fairly easy to read from a typical viewing distance, but lacks the slickness and pizzazz of rival menu systems from the likes of Sony and LG.

The layout also feels longwinded in places, particularly when you want to access modes like Resolution+, which is buried in a submenu and should have been a lot easier to find. But in general the unfussy menu design makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, which is a blessing as there’s a wealth of options to discover.

The Picture menu puts all the basic adjustments on page one for casual viewers (including a range of presets), but tucks more advanced settings away in a submenu for those who want to calibrate the picture properly.

These include 3D Colour Management, Base Colour Adjustment and detailed colour temperature settings, the latter enabling you to tweak the balance of red, green and blue in the picture. You can also alter the black/white level, static gamma, noise reduction and loads more, while a Control Visualisation shows you the results of your adjustments. Videophiles will be in heaven.

Operating the set is a piece of cake thanks to the thoughtfully arranged remote. The central menu controls are ideally placed for the thumb, while the Return and Enter keys are positioned exactly where you’d expect to find them. Most of the other buttons are clearly labelled and carefully arranged – the only slip-up is the aforementioned poorly positioned Menu button.

Freeview is a mixed bag. The onscreen information banners are superb, packed with information (including the audio codec used and whether the programme is native HD or not). It also displays information about the current and subsequent programme, as well as recommending programmes that have just started on other channels. You can’t browse any further ahead than the next programme, but hats off to Toshiba for such a intelligent, user-friendly design.

The eight-day Freeview EPG also looks great, with a programme grid that fills the screen, but during our test it was glitchy, surprisingly slow to populate and sluggish when moving from programme to programme. It’s also a shame that you can’t continue watching live TV as you browse.

It’s great to see Toshiba embracing DLNA networking on such an affordably priced set, but it’s a pity that it’ll only work with Windows 7 laptops. We tried it out with a Vista laptop and although the TV could see the relevant folders, it wouldn’t display the files within them.

Toshiba 40RV753B: Picture

On the whole, the 40RV753B’s pictures don’t dazzle like the best LED TVs, or even the best CCFL sets, but they’re still highly enjoyable. Like most LCD TVs, it’s at its best with high-definition material.

Tune into any of the hi-def channels delivered via the built-in Freeview HD tuner and the images instantly jump out at you with that punchy high-definition look. Shooting Stars on BBC HD is a feast for the eyes – static close-ups of the contestants reveal finely-resolved facial detail, while the gloriously colourful set and opening titles look bold and vibrant.

But detail still isn’t as blisteringly sharp as it could be, particularly when there’s a lot of movement in the picture – without clever frame insertion sharpening up response times, the 50Hz image shows the tell-tale signs of motion blur.

This makes moving detail look soft and there’s some untidy trailing behind objectsIt’s not something that will greatly hinder your enjoyment, just a slight niggle that reminds you that you’re not watching the very best LCD technology has to offer.

You’ll also need to call on that extensive colour management, as the presets look a little unnatural and overbearing at first, particularly skin tones. Black level is fairly good for the money, but again you’ll need to spend a bit of time playing with the settings to get rid of the greyness. Shadow detail is fairly clear too – you can just about make out the creases and folds in black shirts, or background objects in dimly lit scenes – although it could be better.

With standard-definition Freeview programmes, the image is bright and dynamic with surprisingly sharp detail, but there’s no escaping the smearing and mosquito noise in the picture.

Camera movements also cause an outbreak of pixel shimmering that impinges on overall clarity. Many of these artefacts stem from the source broadcast but they look slightly more pronounced than we expected.

Luckily, Resolution+ does a terrific job of sharpening up standard-definition images. Fine detail, from the strands of hair on newsreaders’ heads to the texture of the table in Dickinson’s Real Deal, snaps into focus, bringing a lot more clarity to the overall picture. But even this newly ‘re-engineered’ version can’t make the image look anything like high-definition, and in the highest setting it can actually emphasise black and mosquito noise in the picture.

Resolution+ can be applied to hi-def material, too, and when you do it has some unexpected, but very welcome, benefits. Images look even sharper without any unwanted side effects, and with such clean high-quality sources there are no nasty artefacts to exaggerate. It can’t do anything to help the afore-mentioned resolution loss with fast movement, though.

One final gripe to report is the narrow viewing angle, which means a severe loss of contrast quite quickly when you move off-centre.

Toshiba 40RV753B: Sound and value

Toshiba 40rv753b

The 40RV753B is equipped with Sound Navi technology, which projects sound from the integrated speakers onto the nearest hard surface where it’s amplified.

On paper this method doesn’t sound too promising, but in practice it works surprisingly well, producing a reasonable amount of bass and clear, audible speech that satisfies the sonic demands of most TV programmes.

But you’ll definitely need a home cinema system if movies are on the menu, as the sound isn’t loud or expansive enough to do justice to Blu-ray soundtracks. Turn it up loud and you get shrill, fatiguing high-frequenciesThe other on-board audio technology, such as Bass Boost and Dolby Volume do exactly what they say on the tin, making this a decent sonic performer overall.

Value

For a set that offers DLNA networking, Freeview HD, plentiful connections and useful picture tech, that £550 price tag is extremely reasonable. In fact it makes the 40RV753B an absolute bargain. A similarly sized set like the Samsung LE40C650 might offer features like 100Hz processing, Internet@TV and more versatile DLNA media streaming, but it’s at least £100 more expensive and offers only slightly superior picture quality.

Similarly, the Sharp LC-40CT2E also costs more but offers nowhere near as many features as the Toshiba and provides inferior pictures. So for all the 40RV753B’s performance shortcomings, judged against the budget competition it’s actually a very impressive proposition.

Toshiba 40RV753B: Verdict

toshiba

Toshiba’s description of the 40RV753B as an ‘everyday’ TV is strangely apt – it’s a solid all-rounder with a pleasing range of features and picture quality that’s fine for day-to-day TV and movie viewing, but is unlikely to attract the interest of hardcore home cinephiles.

We liked:

Resolution+ does a typically decent job of sharpening SD and HD pictures, and sound is surprisingly rich.

It’s great to see Toshiba adding media streaming to the feature list, especially on such an affordable set and the wide array of picture tweaks will please enthusiasts. Also impressive are the terrific onscreen Freeview banners.

We disliked:

Standard-definition pictures are noisy and Resolution+ can exaggerate artefacts if not used conservatively. And although hi-def pictures are generally satisfying, they won’t blow you away.

The narrow viewing angle also means you’ll need to sit head-on to get the best out of the picture and the slow, glitchy EPG needs work too and it’s a shame DLNA streaming only works with Windows 7 laptops.

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Pros

  • Generally pleasing HD pictures
  • USB ports and DLNA streaming
  • Decent sound quality
  • Freeview now/next banners

Cons

  • DLNA for Windows 7 only
  • Motion causes soft detail and blur
  • Sluggish EPG
  • Limited viewing angle

Verdict

The 40RV753B might not offer the best LCD pictures we’ve ever seen,
but it would be churlish to complain too vociferously with a price tag
this low and a feature list this generous.

With the addition of
DLNA media streaming, plus the inclusion of extensive picture
adjustments and the ever impressive Resolution+, the 40RV753B has enough
tricks up its sleeve to make it feel like great value, particularly
when you compare it with the budget competition.

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