As it is, the Toshiba 32RL858 is the manufacturer’s most feature packed 32 inch TV and, as such, we’ve some fairly high hopes for it given the generally good performance recent Toshiba’s have exhibited recently. Will the RL858 live up to expectations or fall short? Let’s crack on and find out.
Design & Connections
We can’t imagine the absence of a fourth HDMI port – the RL858 has 3 – will present much of a problem in a television of this size but if your HDMI sources mean you require more, you’re at least forewarned. Two of the HDMI inputs are outward facing from the rear and are accompanied by the antennae connection, a LAN port, a SCART socket, Component Video in - together with L/R audio jacks, a D-SUB VGA PC connection and an optical digital audio out. The side connections are completed by a headphone jack, a CAM slot and a single USB port. There’s also four buttons for on/off and selecting up and down for both volume and channel selection.
The Picture Menu houses the standard Picture Mode, Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint and Sharpness sliders. The available Picture Modes are Dynamic, Standard, Game, Autoview and Toshiba’s attempt at providing accurate out of the box settings with the Hollywood 1 and Hollywood 2 modes. In addition to the standard controls we have the Advanced Picture Settings that contain the ‘ColourMaster’ Colour Management System(CMS) which we’ve had our fair share of well documented problems with, in the past. Further controls for the Auto Brightness Sensor, which alters luminance based on ambient lighting; Active Backlight Control; Black/White Level; Noise Reduction and Cinema Mode are also found in this area and we’ll cover some of those later in the review but we found no use for either the Noise Reduction nor Auto Brightness Sensor controls.
Toshiba Places, the manufacturers cloud based internet portal is still in development but content is certainly on the increase. Within this ‘hub’ there’s areas for Video, Music, Social Networking, News etc. Naturally the likes of BBC iPlayer and YouTube are supported but there’s some curios such as internet music service, Auepo, and Woomi, an internet video portal here too. By using the Quick button of the remote control both the iPlayer and YouTube apps are instantly accessible which saves the need to navigate through the menus to get to them, and the same goes for Toshiba Places.
It’s not a bad result, by any means, and we should be able to make worthwhile improvements even with the limited controls but, again with a Toshiba, the biggest problem is the gamma which is only really at a level suitable for a light controlled environment, i.e. a very dark one. This isn’t really a problem for us but the average living room lighting will mean the loss of details in dark portions of the image and a general dullness to pictures. We might be able to use the white balance controls to bring it down but even with the pseudo, Black/White Level, gamma control disengaged we can’t improve much on the performance, here.
And the answer is, quite a few. Not only did we have the expected luminance problems with red and green but we’ve also major hue errors with both the cyan and magenta secondary’s. With magenta pushed so far toward blue and with such an under luminance of red, it’s no wonder skin tones are looking so off. We will be approaching the calibration with both fingers and toes crossed; the fingers are for getting the greyscale and gamma tracking well with the toes entwined for the CMS not mucking up images, completely.
We tried a number of strategies to fix the greyscale and gamma but could never get both correct at the same times, the controls are both lacking and a bit clunky in operation so we ended up with the following compromise:
Toshiba’s problematic CMS has been well documented by us in the past and it’s with a large amount of trepidation that we ever approach using it. Imagine our surprise when having calibrated the RL858 to an almost reference performance, on paper, that ‘Colour Master’ wasn’t introducing nasty blocky artefacts and tonal unevenness. We weren’t able to fully correct the under luminance in red but, overall, the colour gamut was much closer to the Rec 709 standard and images were looking far more natural. It just goes to show you can never take things for granted and, it would seem, doubly so with the Toshiba’s.
Having remarked on the absence of a film mode in any of the Toshiba’s of the last 12 months, it was a little surprising and somewhat ironic that there was one present in the 32 inch RL858. The jaggies introduced by an unnecessary deinterlacing step aren’t going to be that detectable in a screen of these dimensions but we shouldn’t complain. The film mode was semi-successful too and picked up the SD NTSC 2:3 cadence with ease; unfortunately the most common PAL counterpart – 2:2 – wasn’t detected so the film mode will be of most interest to those with collections of Region 1 and Region 2 DVDs.
Other facets of the picture processing were generally satisfactory without being outstanding. We did uncover some 1080p24 issues with the higher tier TL868 but the RL858 had no problems correctly displaying Blu-ray discs. The 858 proved to have a decent scaling engine for SD material but diagonal interpolation of video material could have been better and there was some jaggedness present on the various tests we have for this, but nothing you’re likely to notice on a screen this size. The RL858 had no problems in showing a mixture of film and video mixed content and was (almost) able to show a signal all way the up to peak white. Both film and video were shown at full resolution, provided Native was selected as the Picture Size.
Once we’d got over the downgrade in size from our usual gaming display and engaged the Game Picture Mode we were impressed with the responsiveness of the RL858 and the measured input lag figures backed this up. We took a number of measurements and most were around the 17 millisecond mark, although one or two were at 33 milliseconds, which means the Toshiba is lagging between 1 and 2 frames for the average console game.
In the out of box Standard mode, the Toshiba 32RL858B drew an averaged 49.5w but once calibrated the number dropped to 30.5w, which is impressive.
Once calibrated, we were impressed by the pictures the RL858B was capable of producing, particularly with HD content and, thanks to the size, SD images were certainly watchable as well. The motion handling was certainly not of the highest standard and fast moving objects suffered the typical ‘motion blur’ issues and there’s no frame interpolation engine to help out. Viewer tolerance to this sort of thing is highly variable but we’d certainly recommend seeing one in action before you part with your money if you’re a fan of either/or sports and action movies.
There was nothing remarkable about the RL858, in all honesty, but sometimes that’s a good thing and it’s good to report that screen uniformity was a way above average for edge-lit LED, with just a little bit of bleed in the corners. Of course, we’d rather it weren’t there at all but we’re starting to accept it’s the norm and all we can hope is that it’s not too noticeable with regular viewing, which , in the case of the Toshiba 32RL858B, it wasn’t, but movie lovers who like to watch in the correct aspect ratio will notice it in the ‘black bars’. Viewing angles were fairly favourable and although there is a discernible loss of contrast, once viewed off-centre, colours remained fairly true.
Considering the prices the RL858 is widely available for, through internet channels, we really don’t have too many grumbles with its picture quality. You can certainly do worse in this section of the market and we’d imagine most would be happy with what’s on offer.
- Impressive Black levels and Contrast
- Freeview HD Tuner
- Plenty of Features
- Excellent Little Remote Control
- Colour Master Worked!
- Decent Video Processing
- Responsive for Gaming
- Mostly Uniform Screen
- Design may Put Off Some
- Motion Blur with Fast Moving Action
- One Point White Balance Controls
- Stand Doesn't Swivel
- Some Light Bleed in Corners
Toshiba Regza RL858 (32RL858) LED LCD Television Review
The Toshiba 32RL858 isn’t a remarkable performer but we feel it’s solid enough to warrant us recommending it to be put on your demo list. With its solid black levels and reasonable accuracy, out of the box, you certainly could do worse although the default gamma tracking doesn’t really lend itself to being placed in a bright viewing environment. With the RL858 being widely available for just over £350 its feature set, including a Freeview HD tuner and access to Toshiba Places, make it a good value proposition in this sector of the market, provided you can put up with its rather retro appearance.
Whilst the outward looks doing nothing for us, the nifty little remote control is a mini-design classic that makes you wonder why others need to be quite so large. Similarly, the menu structure is one of usable simplicity, although the EPG could do with toning down a shade, or two. The only disappointment in the menus was the lack of a multi-point white balance control but we were still able to effect a reasonably successful calibration and, what’s more, the colour management system worked as intended, much to our surprise. The RL858 also displayed some fairly good picture processing, with good scaling and deinterlacing performance accompanied by flawless handling of 1080p Blu-ray content. The Toshiba 32RL858B would be a good choice as a gaming display with its low input lag figures and energy consumption performance that would allow for long sessions without seriously adding to the electricity bills.
The Toshiba RL858 isn’t going to set your world on fire, but then we wouldn’t expect anything in this price range to do so. It’s solid and unspectacular but does get most of the basics right whilst offering features not usually found for such a modest entry fee.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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