Toshiba’s U2963 4K LED TV is a ferociously well-specified budget TV that offers Ultra HD sharpness, Dolby Vision, binge-friendly smart connectivity and a huge 58-inch panel (though it comes in other sizes) for just £399 (or less if you grab one on promotion – expect this to be a regular in our list of the best TV deals (opens in new tab)). Canny buyers will immediately wonder: what’s the catch?
As it happens, there really isn’t one – although that’s not to say this set doesn’t come with caveats and the inevitable compromises that you'd expect from a cheaper screen. But there's no major Achilles' heel – this is one of the best TVs under £500 (opens in new tab).
Let’s break down exactly what the Toshiba U29 offers, and where it's weaker.
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Toshiba U2963: Price and features
We’ve got the 58-inch version to test, but the U2963 is also available in 43- and 65-inch screen sizes (43U2963DB and 65U2963DB respectively). The 43-inch version is £269, this 58-inch version is £399, and the 65-inch costs £529.
Connectivity reflects its budget status. There are only three HDMIs (one with ARC, for connecting to soundbars) for everyday connections, plus analogue AV, a PC VGA input (which also accepts component via an adapter), and a digital optical audio output.
Functionality is on the money. The set employs a Freeview Play tuner, which means you’re covered for catch-up TV across the main terrestrial TV channels, complete with a roll-back programme guide, and there’s screen mirroring with your smartphone if you need it.
The connected platform is Toshiba’s own, and much like Philips' Saphi TV OS used in that brand's more budget sets (including the T3 Award-winning Philips OLED754 (opens in new tab) cheap OLED TV), it’s a bare bones affair. If all you need is easy binging, it’ll do most of the job: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Brit Box, Rakuten.TV and YouTube are all on tap. Notably missing is Disney+, but you can add that in 4K HDR with a Roku Streaming Stick+ (opens in new tab) for under £50, or one of the other best 4K media streamers (opens in new tab).
The set also works with Amazon Alexa, via a connected Echo device. You can use it to voice control volume and channel selection.
This Toshiba isn’t the slimmest flatscreen you’ll find. Relatively chunky at 74mm, and with a bezel that was deemed slim back in 2018, it’s unlikely to win over fashionistas. You’ll also need to budget for some wide AV furniture, as the feet are positioned either edge of the screen.
While we can live with all this, what did prove an irritation was the bright green LED which glows when the set is on. Subtle it is not.
Toshiba U2963 review: Performance
Image fidelity is generally good. The provision of Dolby Vision HDR implies the set has high-end aspirations, but in reality Dolby Vision is on-board to manage inherent low brightness and minimise unnecessary tone mapping (meaning HDR images will still look true-to-intent even without big HDR brightness to boost them).
In addition to Dolby Vision, there’s support for regular HDR10 and HLG, but not HDR10+, which is used in Amazon Prime Video (HDR from here will revert to the basic HDR10 standard).
We measured HDR peak brightness at 300 nits, and discovered it’s admirably consistent across all image presets and measurement windows (whether they be 5 or 10 per cent) – it means it’s easy to know you’re getting the best picture from this set.
With regular HD material in SDR, the TV is a bright, pleasing watch. The average picture level is generally high, and it looks fine with Blu-ray and streaming services.
Fed native 4K content, the extra visual bite is really easy to appreciate on this 58-inch panel. There’s nothing cut-price about its clarity, and colours are on the right side of vibrant.
The inevitable compromise comes with contrast and the lack of a convincing black level. Dim the lights and letterbox bars become distinctly grey; there’s no appreciable shadow detail either. None of this should be surprising, given the price point, so it’s not a deal-breaker – it’s just the difference between a TV at this price and one of the best TVs under £1000 (opens in new tab).
The set transpires to be a reasonably good gaming display. We measured input lag at around 26ms (30ms is considered an acceptable level of performance for non-competitive gaming).
One benefit of the slightly larger cabinet size of the 58U2963DB is that there’s room for an effective sound system. Sourced from Onkyo, it has copious volume and some mid-range heft. While not hi-fi by any stretch, there’s certainly enough presence about it to entertain a roomful of kids on a Saturday morning. Dolby Atmos support is absent, though.
Toshiba U2963: Verdict
The Toshiba U2963 is the perfect example of a big-value big-screen, circa 2020.
It’s not particularly pretty, and that high-glare LED power button will have you looking for something to cover it up (a little blob of masking tape will probably be the ticket), but it’s a solid performer with regular HD and over-delivers with native 4K. Contrast is limited and HDR middling, but then that comes with the territory.
Even its connected chops are decent. Freeview Play offers main channel catch-up, and there’s a simple smart platform with all the big name streaming apps. That’s most people's needs sorted.
Bargain hunters should happily make a beeline for this set, especially when discounted.
The main competition is the Hisense R50B7120UK Roku TV (opens in new tab), which includes a better smart platform and slightly higher image quality (especially when upscaling from HD to 4K), but you get a bigger screen size and slightly better sound for the money from this Toshiba, so it’s up to you which aspects you prioritise.