As we look back at 2011, few TV brands have been as consistently busy as Toshiba. For not content with launching some impressive new premium-level TVs to go with enlarged mid and budget ranges, Toshiba also sneaked in a second burst of TV activity just in time for Christmas, introducing the TL868 series to offer active 3D at a lower price point, as well as a new 2D-only RL858 series we’re looking at here that’s designed to offer cash-strapped punters more features than they might expect and something different in design terms.
The RL858 series is represented today by what will likely be the most popular model of the range: the 32RL858B. This TV’s 32in size makes it a potential first and second-room option, especially as its appeal in both environments is greatly enhanced by the impressive slenderness of both its bezel and its rear.
The bezel is barely a cm wide along three sides (and even the larger bottom edge is trimmer than most), while the rear only sticks out around 30mm without the stand attached.
Also immediately catching your eye about the 32RL858B’s design is the fact that it’s clad in silver rather than the usual black. It has to be said that the glossless silver frame round the screen looks and feels a touch plasticky. But this is only to be expected, really, when you’re talking about a fairly feature-rich 32in TV that costs less than £400. And it doesn’t stop the 32RL858B from achieving its key goal of looking distinctive.
The fact that the 32RL858 ships already attached to its stand - something that’s highly unusual these days - suggests that Toshiba doesn’t really imagine people wall-hanging the TV. This is underlined by the fact that the vast majority of the 32RL858B’s connections face straight out of the TV’s rear rather than supporting wall-friendly side entry.
These connections are more than respectable for the 32RL858’s money though. Three HDMIs get the ball rolling, but it’s the multimedia support that really stands out. For instance, there’s an Ethernet port that very impressively supports both streaming (albeit in rather limited fashion unless you have Windows 7) from a DLNA PC and access to Toshiba’s ‘Places’ online system. Oh, and the Ethernet is also there as mandatory support for a built-in Freeview HD tuner that counts as an excellent finding for the sub-£400 32in market.
The set also sports a USB input through which you can play photo, sound or music files, including DivX HD. Or you can use the USB for adding one of Toshiba’s WLM-20U2 wi-fi adaptors.