Design & Connections
The supplied controller is certainly a bit more ‘stout’ than average but we like it although it is rather weighty. Toshiba have provided a finger rest to the back of the remote but it doesn’t really stop the feeling of it being a touch top heavy. The curves and trim are quite pleasing and the large buttons, which are very well positioned, make for efficient operations.
The majority of connections to the rear of the Toshiba 46TL868 are outward facing and generous at this price-point. There are 3 HDMI ports on the rear connection panel and one on the side facing panel. Also facing outward are the antennae connections (both aerial and satellite); a VGA PC input; SPDIF optical audio out; a LAN connection and legacy SCART and Component connections together with L&R audio jacks. Along with the side-facing HDMI connection are two USB ports – the bottom of which can be used with an optional Wi-Fi dongle – and a CAM slot plus there’s also some very basic button controls – Power/Source/Up and Down.
There’s no access to the limited 3D viewing settings from the main menu and these are instead reached by using the QUICK button of the remote control. From where you can select format (Side by Side & Top/Bottom) should the TV not auto detect. Preferences for how a 3D signal is handled – whether automatically, or not – plus setting a PIN lock and opting whether you wish to see the 3D warning message each time 3D material is about to play are found in the Preferences Menu.
Contrast and Black Level
The TL963B punched well above its weight here and although the intra-frame ANSI contrast ratio of nearly 3,000:1 couldn’t quite match up to the less revealing On/Off contrast of 4625:1, it’s still very impressive. With an averaged black level of 0.038 cd/m2, the TL963 is one of the best LED TVs for dynamic range we’ve tested and only the spot of edge bleed, bottom left, stopped it from doing better still.
The Toshiba TL963 did a nice job with standard definition content, cleanly scaling a 576 signal, with no obvious signs of softening or haloing artefacts. The TL963 also managed respectable levels of video deinterlacing with jaggies only apparent at the extreme angles of diagonal interpolation. It was, however, unable to pick up the 2:2 film cadence so there is some unnecessary deinterlacing introduced and with it some resolution loss and jaggies. Like its predecessor, the TL868, the TL963 didn’t make a very good job of 1080p24 Blu-ray disc with frequent judder and frame skipping evident. In fact, we suspect that the TL series uses Vestel processing, rather than their own (much better) version, which is a shame as it undoes a lot of the good work elsewhere.
It is possible to improve the Blu-rays performance by means of using the motion interpolating Active Vision processing, in terms of the judder, but we didn’t like the soap opera effect it induces; so, unfortunately, the user is left with the choice of skippy and stuttery or over-smoothed with artefacting. At least the bug where Active Vision cuts in and out, randomly, appears to have been ironed out.
The results of the Toshiba TL963B are fairly mediocre here. It is most certainly necessary to call up the Game Mode, else be faced with lag times over 110 milliseconds, where the measurement of around 50 milliseconds latency is far more respectable if not really suitable for the competitive gamers out there. For those that like to game in 3D, the added processing will see lag times increase to 116.5 milliseconds, which is decidedly sluggish.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 59.4W
Calibrated – Hollywood 1 Mode: 50.9W
3D Mode: 81.4W
Picture Quality - 2D
The undoubted weakness in the TL953’s armour is its inability to properly portray 1080p24 material and we’d really expected Toshiba (or Vestel) to have addressed this by now. There really is no excuse for such a faux pas in 2012 and it’s of pressing concern that it gets fixed. If Blu-rays aren’t that important to you, then the 40TL953 certainly delivers outstanding pictures, in the lower mid-sector of the market, but movie lovers will probably want to ponder the alternatives. Unfortunately another of the previous generations’ irritating foibles is also still present and we noticed a screen tearing effect that would intermittently occur with any HDMI connected device, with whatever signal. The ‘tear’ manifests as a thin black line that can occur at any given location on the screen. During our time with the TL963 it only ever invoked a mild, under-the-breath tut to issue from our lips but we suspect, over time, the irritation factor would increase to profanity inducing levels.
Bar the two annoyances detailed above, we were actually very impressed with the overall performance of the Toshiba 40TL963B but they are potential deal-breakers for some.
Picture Quality - 3D
- Excellent blacks and contrast
- Very good uniformity
- Nice scaling of standard definition
- Very accurate greyscale in Hollywood Picture Mode
- 3D is pretty solid
- Some neat features
- 1080p24 Blu-ray is not handled well
- Intermittent screen tearing
- A bit laggy for gamers
Toshiba TL963 (40TL963) 3D LED LCD Television Review
If brushed chrome is your thing, the Toshiba TL963 will slot in to your living room to pleasing effect; it's not necessarily our cup of cocoa but the trim is far from offensive and doesn't reflect light in a distracting way. We were very impressed that a TV in this price bracket had been bestowed with the full compliment of 4 HDMI ports and the chunky remote is great to use, if a little top heavy. In terms of feature-set, Toshiba aren't quite at the level of some of the Smart offerings from the other big boys but things are ever improving and what is there is impressive enough.
Had we been given basic two white balance controls we would have been able to improve further on the, already impressive, out-of-the-box accuracy of the Hollywood picture mode but at least we were able to massage the colours without creating serious picture flaws. Speaking of which, the TL ranges' continued inability to deal correctly with most Blu-ray discs will put some off and the intermittent screen tearing bug is likely to become increasingly irritating to owners as time goes by.
It's a shame that those potential deal-breakers exist, otherwise the TL963B impresses greatly with its excellent dynamic range and rich, rewarding black levels. The 3D processing has clearly been given some attention since last we looked and the reduction in crosstalk and improved motion handling was great to see, particluarly with 3D Blu-ray. Our (side by side) broadcast 3D is also handled far better than in Toshiba's gone by, but some will notice a little ghosting around white objects, in particular. Serious gamers would probably notice the 50 millisecond 2D input latency and your Nan would probably notice the 3D gaming lag of around 116ms.
The Toshiba TL963B offers some truly excellent performance for this level of the market but is just let down by the iffy handling of Blu-ray and a mildly annoying screen tearing bug. If the engineers could sort either issue out we'd be happy to reconsider; if they could sort both then we'd be looking at a TV offering outstanding value for money.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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