Are those bland looks just a cover for hidden talents?
Toshiba's 42inch RL853 is about as generic an LED flatscreen as you could hope to find. It has a regulation shiny (but not gloss) black finish and a thin (but not too thin) LCD panel.
It also offers BBC iPlayer but has no access to a dedicated net connected portal. Apparently Toshiba Places, the brand's ambitious cross platform smart TV portal, is still under construction.
The set's user interface may be as dull as an Amish fashion parade, but it's easy enough to use: several tabbed areas are overlaid stage centre. The Applications tab takes you online, from where you can browse BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Flickr. Refreshingly, the YouTube client allows you to stream HD video when available. Wi-Fi isn't integrated, so you'll need a dongle if you don't have a wired connection available.
The set has a Media Player but it's next to hopeless. Across a network, the 42RL853 was unable to stream any of our test files - with the sole exception of an MPEG-2 TS file. It's no better from USB. Music support covers MP3 and AAC.
Picture quality is dynamic and punchy. While there's none of the Active Vision processing seen further up the brand's range, the screen does sport Resolution +, Toshiba's proprietary edge enhancement process. This does a fine job of upscaling SD sources.
Without Active Vision picture processing, you're left at the mercies of the 50Hz refresh rate. Consequently, native motion resolution is limited, ruling this set out for sports fans. The image can look quite dynamic in a well lit room, dim the lights though and the black level begins to struggle. There's some noise and fizz in dark scenes - it's what you might expect if The Dark Knight met Hannah Montana.
Toshiba RL853 launch date: Out now
Toshiba RL853: £699
- Type: LED edge lit LCD TV
- Resolution: 1080 x 1920
- Web TV service: BBC iPlayer & YouTube
- Tuner: Freeview HD, analogue
- Sound: 20w (2 x 10w)
- Audio: Nicam Stereo, Audyssey EQ, Dolby Volume
- Connections: Four HDMI, PC D-Sub, SCART, component, phono AV, USB, Ethernet LAN
- Dimensions/weight: 1000.5(w) x 620 (h) x 40 (d) mm, 11.9kg (w/o stand)