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Toshiba 42VL963 review

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

Usability

Despite putting in a largely likable picture performance, the 42VL963's appeal is seriously hampered by its overly fussy user interface and lacklustre remote control.

The latter looks classy, with a gloss black panel and large buttons lain on a curved silver base.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

However, it's badly weighted to the top – where the battery compartment lies in its undercarriage – and it's not very responsive at all.

Numerous times during the review did we have to wait for commands to be accepted by the TV or, more usually, discover that the TV just didn't allow quick commands.

Whatever we tried, the 42VL963 was always either two steps behind, or half asleep. Even switching between picture presets involve a second or two of blank screen.

Sadly, the 'quick menu' button on the remote brings up some pretty unusual settings, such as picture size and headphone sound levels. It's hardly streamlining.

The remote also lacks a 'back' button of suitable size and placement, since it turns out to be the primary button for getting out of menus, returning to main menus and swapping between MP3 songs and videos.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Toshiba has designed a potentially useful carousel behind the Menu button that puts major functions together; Connected TV (which leads to links to YouTube, BBC iPlayer and the Toshiba Places pages), Media Player (USB or network-sourced media), Function (just a sleep timer) and Setup (Picture, Sound, System Setup and Preferences).

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Toshiba Places is slow to navigate, though apps load quickly. However, when exiting Toshiba Places, we got an irritating 'Are you sure?' delaying message, with the default set to 'No'; three button presses to get back to live TV.

Digital file support via its USB slots is rather less irritating.

Amid a rather functional, but not unpleasant, USB Media Player interface that puts all folders and files in a simple grid on a black background, we managed first to play MP3, M4A and WMA music.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Video formats included AVC HD, AVI, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPEG and WMV HD (though not WMV), although for some reason a preview pane pops up when you hover over a specific file, though shows nothing.

Once again, the remote's buttons are too small and unresponsive to smoothly navigate within and between digital files; the left and right chapter skip buttons are also positioned at the base of the remote, which makes it tricky to use if holding the remote in one hand.

After taking four button presses to fire up the equally drab, slow Network Media Player interface instead, in our test the 42VL963 successfully streamed the same music file formats, albeit with a second or three's delay, but only AVI video files. Still, it's a decent effort.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Sound

The 42VL963's twin 10W speakers are a smidgen above average.

Hidden in the Advanced menus is a surprisingly effective voice-enhancement mode, while the Audyssey ABX function – available on a low or high setting – adds some finesse to treble highs, though little in the way of much-needed bass.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Overall, the soundstage is wider and more detailed than most, though it's not particularly proficient with music.

Value

The 42VL963's lack of Wi-Fi puts it a step behind most of its competitors at this price, though it's arguably the lack of a dual-core processor and a decent remote control that puts the 42VL963 down the pecking order, despite its thoroughly respectable pictures.

The provision of four pairs of 3D glasses – and plenty of ins and outs – do claw back some ground for the 42VL963, but not enough to prevent us from making this obvious conclusion; there are better value all-rounders available – and more user-friendly ones, at that.

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