Accompanying the 22BV501 is a really pleasant surprise in the shape of a remote control that doesn’t suck. It’s unusually large size allows it to carry big, spaciously laid out buttons, and those buttons are also unusually responsive and tactile. Excellent.
The onscreen menus aren’t quite so pleasant. They open up with some colourful but rather crude icons, before heading off into some fairly text heavy option lists that aren’t especially easy to use. That said, you don’t need a pair of binoculars to read the menu text like you do with some small-screen TVs.
It’s perhaps worth noting that the menus on the 22BV501 aren’t in keeping with Toshiba’s usual menu structure, making us wonder if this TV isn’t all Toshiba’s own work...
Features of note within the onscreen menus are a series of presets (including a Game one), an unusual red-to-green sliding bar for adjusting colour tones, a noise reduction system, and an HDMI True Black option that boosts - with mostly good results - the depth of dark colours from whatever source you’ve got attached to the HDMI port.
After the strangely muted pictures of Sony’s 22EX320, we were immediately struck by just how bright the 22BV501’s pictures look. They look almost radiant, in fact, making them able to function perfectly well in a bright environment like a conservatory or kitchen.
In fact, the brightness can become overwhelming if you stick with the Dynamic preset that’s selected in the TV’s out of the box state, resulting in bright images looking washed out and ‘flared’. Shift to the set’s Natural preset, though, and you still get plenty of punch without losing detail in bright areas.
The 22BV501’s brightness also helps the TV deliver some engagingly vibrant, well-saturated colours. But again, provided you avoid the dynamic preset, these colours aren’t so gaudy that they look horribly unnatural, and they’re not so ‘full on’ that they make it impossible to make out a fair degree of subtlety in their blends and mixes.
Yet more good news concerns the 22BV501’s sharpness. HD pictures on the screen clearly exhibit the HD format’s extra detail and clarity, instantly giving the lie to the argument that you can’t appreciate HD on a screen smaller than 26in.
The 22BV501’s standard definition pictures are pretty good too, looking slightly crisper than those of many other small TVs. They also look impressively devoid of noise, suggesting that the upscaling engine Toshiba has tucked inside its entry-level 22in TV is better than might have been expected.