TODO alt text

Toshiba 40RL953 review

This mid-range Freeview HD screen is no triumph for Toshiba

Most of Toshiba's latest LCD TVs have shown just how good a handle the company has on picture technology. Unfortunately, the Toshiba 40RL953 isn't one of them.

Like all screens it has its strengths and weaknesses, so we'll start with the bad stuff first and work our way up to a positive crescendo. First of all, pictures from the Freeview tuner are slightly soft, even on HD channels.

Colour fidelity is generally accurate, but skin tones have a slightly waxy patina, so Noel Edmonds on Deal or No Deal looks like an escapee from Madam Tussaud's.

Toshiba 40RL953

You can play around with the sharpness and colour settings to improve matters, but it's a lot simpler (and more expensive) to switch to Sky.

There are two intermittent problems that can't be fixed. Firstly, while objects generally move smoothly across the screen, every now and then the screen betrays its basic 50Hz nature when something on Freeview or Sky will trigger a short jerky movement, be it a sudden head turn or an accelerating car. Frankly, you could live with it, and some people might not even notice it.

But the other issue is a genuine fault that we've never seen before and is hopefully specific to our review sample: when watching HDMI feeds (Sky HD and a Sony Blu-ray deck), every now and then a black line appears fleetingly across the screen.

Toshiba 40RL953 review

Our Blu-ray of No Country For Old Men also throws up the screen's poor motion resolution, as a tracking shot of the pebbly road lacks the strong definition of the static camera.

Our final gripe concerning the picture is the lack of shadow detail, which is a consequence of the Toshiba 40RL953's excellent contrast and punchy black levels.

Further positives include good brightness, smooth Blu-ray playback and one of the most well contained LED backlights around, with very little clouding of the LED clusters on solid black content such as Mad Men's credits.

Toshiba 40RL953 review

Off-axis viewing holds up well, thanks to the IPS panel, which is just as well given that the screen is fixed and can't swivel on its stand.

Usability

The Toshiba 40RL953 is not the screen to satisfy anyone of an impatient nature. It takes an age to come to life when switched on and is tardy at changing channels. It's also inconsistent in terms of its operating system.

The layout is reasonably logical, but aside from the icon-based main menu screen, the sub-menus are functional looking, even those for the USB media player.

Toshiba 40RL953

Things improve a lot when you press the Toshiba Places button, which looks contemporary and has its content divided into manageable folders. The Video places folder looks well stocked, but some of the others are rather meagre. For example, Music only has iConcerts and Aupeo, while the Game folder is home to nothing other than four Funspot titles.

There is, however, no shortage of buyable, rentable and free video content, with thousands of titles at your disposal. Presumably there are some foreign language gems hidden among the likes of Autopsy, A Love Story and Stupid Teenagers Must Die in Viewster's straight to online vault.

Toshiba 40RL953

Acetrax is more mainstream but has around 80 HD titles to rent (for £4.99 a pop) among its plethora of pay as you go selections. One operational problem with Places is that the back button simply doesn't work (faulty review sample maybe?) so we had to exit Places entirely and then drill back in when exploring.

USB media playback proved highly impressive, but we inexplicably lost connection with our Twonky DLNA server a couple of times and found the Toshiba 40RL953 a lot less willing to play ball with our range of video and audio files when taking this route.

Sound

There are 2 x 10W of audio output complemented by perfunctory levels of control including voice enhancement, dynamic bass boost and bass and treble adjustment.

Tinkering with the various options does help yield the best possible results, but the Toshiba 40RL953 is no argument against buying a separate soundbar or home cinema system.

Value

Based on its specification, the Toshiba 40RL953 does not seem like poor value. But once you take into account the performance problems and operational foibles, you do have to say that the price looks a lot less of a good deal.

Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-C (MPEG4), DVB-T (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports3
Product FamilyRL953
EU Energy LabelA+
Brand NameToshiba
Screen Size101.6 cm (40")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178°
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
Green CompliantYes
EthernetYes
Analog TunerNTSC
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating Power Consumption90 W
Standby Power Consumption300 mW
Dynamic Contrast Ratio1,000,000:1
RMS Output Power20 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
VGAYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
CI+Yes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
PC StreamingYes
Internet AccessYes
Media PlayerYes
Motion Interpolation Technology100 Active Motion Rate
Height506 mm
Width735 mm
Depth206 mm
Brightness350 cd/m²
Comb Filter3D Y/C
Sound SystemDolby Digital Plus
Product SeriesRL953
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesDigital Noise Reduction, Ambient Lighting, Auto Program, Teletext, Auto-off, Hotel Mode
ManufacturerToshiba
Product Model40RL953
Product Name40" Smart LED TV
Manufacturer Part Number40RL953B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.toshiba.co.uk
Marketing Information

The 40" RL953 Smart TV series brings more quality content and connectivity to your home.

Delivering stunning Full HD 1080p image quality the RL series features built-in Freeview HD for access to terrestrial HD programmes, internet content and catch-up TV services including YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Facebook. You can also get access to a range of other online content from Acetrax movies, Flickr, Aupeo internet radio and more through the Toshiba Places internet portal accessed via your TV at the touch of a button. The added convenience of smartphone & tablet remote control operation is also included.

Package Contents
  • 40" Smart LED TV
  • Remote Control
  • Battery
  • Instruction Manual
  • TV Stand Integrated
SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)14 kg