Before finding out if all these tools help the 32RL953 produce great pictures, let’s quickly have a look at Toshiba’s Places online system. It gets off to a great start thanks to one of the prettiest and most straightforwardly organised home menu screens around. Also laudable are Toshiba’s efforts to offer a degree of personalisation to the system by supporting multiple settings, favourite lists and email accounts.
Wherefore are thou content?
However, it doesn’t take many moments exploring all the content on offer to realise that there just isn’t very much of it. The TV section, for instance, just carries the BBC iPlayer, the Cartoon Network, HiT Entertainment and Box Office 365 - the latter three of which are subscription-only services.
The Video place has Acetrax and YouTube, along with the more obscure Daily Motion, Woomi and Viewster services. And in the Social place you get Twitter, Facebook and the Flickr photo site.
There are one or two other bits and bobs scattered around the other places, but overall there’s just no avoiding the fact that Toshiba Places is way off the online content pace being set by some of its major rivals.
Settling down to watch the 32RL953, its pictures immediately look nothing like as bad as we’d frankly expected them to. HD broadcasts look impressively dynamic, for instance, thanks to a combination of rich, punchy colours and what appears at this stage, at least, to be a much deeper black level response than is common at the budget LCD TV level.
Pictures aren’t as bright as they might be from a more expensive set. Certainly Panasonic’s L32ET5 looked a bit brighter - though Sony’s 32HX753 looks around the same (or actually a bit duller once it’s calibrated to deliver a satisfying black level response). There’s still enough light coming out of the Toshiba, though, to enable it to work in all but the most consistently bright living spaces.
We have certainly seen other more expensive TVs make HD sources look sharper and more detailed than the 32RL953 does. But the difference between standard def and HD content is always perfectly clear despite the 32RL953‘s relatively small screen size, and we certainly would never describe HD pictures as looking in any way soft.
Helping the 32RL953 out in this regard is the fact that it handles motion considerably better than expected. There is - inevitably - a bit of resolution loss when the screen is showing horizontal motion, but the onboard 100Hz system ensures that this is not as big an issue as it usually is on budget TVs. There’s certainly no sign of the smearing that we might have expected to find on a sub-£350 32in TV.
Turning to standard definition, the 32RL953 isn’t so assured - at least with relatively low quality digital broadcasts. With this sort of material, the step-down in quality is a little more obvious than we’d like it to be, in terms of the amount of extra noise that materialises and the amount of extra softness - especially over particularly bright areas of the picture. Clearly the 32RL953’s upscaling system isn’t one of Toshiba’s most powerful efforts.
But then it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect anything else on a sub-£350 32in TV, would it? In any case, the relatively small screen size makes the standard def problems much less obvious than they were on this set’s 40in sibling (the Toshiba 40RL953).