Toshiba’s UL863 range didn’t get off to the best of starts. The 46in Toshiba 46UL863 didn’t float our boat at all, thanks to a combination of a seriously flawed picture performance and a rather half-baked set of multimedia features.
However, we’re more than prepared to give the UL863 series another chance as we take delivery of the 32UL863. For a start, experience suggests that the 32UL863’s considerably smaller 32in screen could well suffer much less from the backlight consistency issues that troubled us so much on the larger model.
Also, online TV services have become a classic ‘movable feast’ this year, with new content getting added week by week. So there’s every chance that Toshiba’s Places system will have blossomed from the rather impoverished effort in evidence when we checked out the 46UL863 back in July.
The first comparison drawn between the 32UL863 and the 46UL863 doesn’t benefit the smaller model, though. For its smaller size doesn’t show off the set’s slim, nicely finished design as strongly as the bigger model does, looking much more like just ‘A.N. Other’ dark-coloured flat TV. At least from a distance.
The TV’s rear end is still impressively slim, though, and the bezel is trimmer than you’d usually find with such an affordable 32in TV.
The 32UL863’s connections are plentiful. Four HDMIs should be enough to cater for pretty much any home AV set up, plus there’s a D-Sub PC port (allowing the screen to double up as a PC monitor), and a pair of USB ports. These USBs can be used for either recording video from the TV’s Freeview HD and satellite (though not Freesat) tuners to USB HDD, or for playing back video, photo and music file formats from USB storage devices.
The set also supports playback of multimedia files stored on your PC so long as that PC is DLNA-enabled and, ideally, equipped with Windows 7.
One rather cool thing about the 32UL863’s DLNA capabilities is that they can be enjoyed wirelessly via a built-in wi-fi system. You don’t have to add one of those aggravating - and usually optional extra - USB Wi-Fi dongles most TVs expect you to use if you don’t want to/can’t hardwire your TV into your network.
If you’re thinking of hanging a 32UL863 on a wall, it’s worth noting that most of the connections we’ve talked about here face straight out of the TV’s rear, rather than being positioned more conveniently for side access.