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Toshiba 42VL963 review

Ambitious but oh-so-slow Edge LED telly with passive 3D

Toshiba is trying hard to make its smart TV platform – called Toshiba Places – a genuinely different experience to other brand's efforts, but it only achieves that in a negative sense.

Somewhat sensibly it attempts to divvy-up apps between 'places'; TV Place, Video Place, Music Place, Social Place and News Place.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Nice idea, with one catch – there's not much inside each section.

TV Place is the location for catch-up TV, though inside is just a BBC iPlayer icon.

Video Place is a little better, counting Acetrax, Blinkbox, Cinetrailer.tv, Viewster, Dailymotion, Woomi and YouTube, while Music Place includes just iConcerts and Aupee! Radio. Social Place comprises an inbox that can link to personal accounts for email, alongside apps for Facebook, Twitter, MyPhotos (Flickr) and My Videos (Dailymotion).

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Meanwhile, News Place gathers together Livesport, Euronews, France 24 and MeteoNews. But even old-fashioned Teletext was far better than that sorry lot.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Lastly, the Games Place leads to a small collection of Funspot, Smart Kidz and Brain Trainer games.

It's a nice division of labour in theory, but there's not enough labour – and the breakaway of dedicated icons for YouTube and the BBC iPlayer to the 42VL963's central user interface seems an admission of this.

Toshiba Places is reasonably well laid out, with customised settings for individual members of the family possible (so Dad doesn't tweet about the cricket on daughter's account, presumably) and there are links to the most used apps up-top; when we tested the 42VL963 we found shortcuts to BBC iPlayer, Blinkbox, Acetrax and Livesport.tv across the top.

The hardware is a lot more comprehensive. On the rear of the delectably designed 42VL963 are three HDMI inputs, a Scart, a D-sub 15-pin PC input, component video inputs and accompanying phonos, an optical digital audio output, and an Ethernet LAN slot.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

The latter proves crucial since there's no Wi-Fi built into the 42VL963, which will be a deal-breaker for some – and seems stingy on a TV costing this much.

However, generosity abounds on a particularly extensive side-panel, which includes a fourth HDMI slot, two USB slots - one for adding a Toshiba Wi-Fi dongle, and another for thumbdrives or HDDs - either stuffed with digital files for playback, or formatted to record TV programmes from Freeview (or, more usefully given that there's only one tuner, a handy pause-live-TV feature).

For those wanting to add channels to Freeview's roster there's also a Common Interface slot for subscription cards.

Lastly, the side-panel includes a headphones slot, though for some reason it's very far up the TV, almost at the top.

Those USB slots aren't needed to recharge 3D glasses since the 42VL963 uses the passive, polarised 3D tech, and puts four pairs of the cheap RealD 3D specs in the box.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

What is a genuinely great idea from Toshiba is a choice of electronic programme guides for Freeview HD content.

The choice – which you have to make blindly upon start-up – is between BroadcastGuide and MediaGuide. The former is the usual EPG, while the latter is a ROVI-powered, web-fed guide that's a tad more dynamic, more colourful, and has an (albeit tiny) live TV thumbnail, too – though it is slower.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-T (MPEG4), DVB-C (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports4
Product FamilyVL963
3D Type3D
Smart TVYes
Brand NameToshiba
Screen Size106.7 cm (42")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178°
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityCEC
EthernetYes
Analog TunerNTSC
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)15 kg
Backlight TechnologyLED
VESA Mount Standard400 x 400
Operating Power Consumption122 W
Standby Power Consumption300 mW
Dynamic Contrast Ratio7,000,000:1
RMS Output Power20 W
DLNA CertifiedYes
VGAYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand634 mm
Width with Stand995 mm
Depth with Stand235 mm
CI+Yes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
3D TechnologyPolarized
3D ConversionYes
PC StreamingYes
Internet AccessYes
Media PlayerYes
3D Glasses RequiredYes
Motion Interpolation Technology400 Active Motion Rate
Enhanced Refresh Rate100 Hz
Height579 mm
Width995 mm
Depth42 mm
Brightness360 cd/m²
Comb Filter3D Y/C
Sound SystemAudyssey EQ, Dolby Digital Plus
Product SeriesVL963
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesDigital Noise Reduction, Ambient Lighting, Auto Program, Teletext, Hotel Mode, Auto-off
ManufacturerToshiba
Product Model42VL963B
Product Name42? Smart 3D LED TV
Manufacturer Part Number42VL963B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.toshiba.co.uk
Marketing Information

The 42" VL963 offers the latest 3D and Smart TV technologies delivered in a sleek sheet of glass design to offer a complete TV solution. Experience sharp, vivid, lifelike images in 2D or 3D with incredible depth and viewing comfort. Super high speed AMR400 processing delivers stunning colour, clarity and fast moving image quality. 2D to 3D conversion and 3D depth control allow you to enjoy all your existing content in 3D.

Package Contents
  • 42" Smart 3D LED TV
  • 4 x Pairs of 3D Glasses
  • Remote Control
  • Batteries
Response Time10 ms
SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)12.90 kg