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Toshiba 32UL863 - Online features and Performance

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


Contrary to our hopes, looking for improvements that might have taken place to Toshiba’s online Places service since July doesn’t bear much fruit. The key video services, for instance, are still limited to YouTube, the iPlayer, Daily Motion, Viewster, Woomi, Box Office 365, The Cartoon Network, and HiT Entertainment. The final three of which are, of course, subscription only, meaning the amount of ‘free’ video fun you can have with Places right now is really quite limited.

Toshiba’s ‘Music Place’ currently only includes the Aupeo personal radio service, while the News Place only carries ‘meteonews.tv’. Woo. In fact, pretty much the only significant addition to Places since July can be found in the Social Places area, where we were pleased to discover a new Facebook app. Presumably Twitter will follow too at some point.

We were also disappointed to find that the latest version of Places still doesn’t fix the annoying issue whereby you can’t actually access the iPlayer or YouTube from within the main Places menus. Instead you still have to bail out of Places and access the iPlayer and YouTube separately for some reason.

Toshiba 32UL863

Toshiba has introduced an attractive ‘two wheel’ onscreen menu system for its latest TVs, and this does a pretty good job of handling what turns out to be a strikingly long list of picture adjustments for such an affordable and relatively small set, ranging from control of the set’s 100Hz motion processing to gamma and colour management tools.

The first thing on our checklist as we settled down to watch the 32UL863 in action was its backlight consistency. Basically we were praying that it didn’t suffer so badly with the clouding and unevenness that so damaged its 46in sibling.

And... thankfully, it doesn’t. For while there is still a degree of illumination inconsistency, it’s much less defined (so long as you keep the backlight down to 65 at the most, anyway) than it was on the larger model. This means that you only see it on really dark sequences rather than during a really quite wide range of material as you could with the 46UL863. The 32UL863’s backlight clouding is also only a major issue if you’re watching in a very dark environment; in a bright room you’re much less likely to spot the areas of extra brightness.

Toshiba 32UL863

The less aggressively inconsistent backlighting in the 32UL863 makes it far easier to engage with dark scenes - even though it has to be said that the black levels the set achieves are fairly average by today’s standards, particularly if you opt not to use the provided active backlight control. Personally we surprised ourselves by actually using this tool for most of the time, finding it less ‘jumpy’ with its brightness adjustments than most, as well as largely immune to the sort of light ‘blocking’ sometimes seen with edge LED dimming systems.


November 23, 2011, 9:31 pm

I will never be buying a Toshiba product ever again. After spending a vast amount of money on a Toshiba 32WLT66 32" 5 years ago for a family member (glowing review on most sites including here) after a couple of years the screen started developing a dark patch in the middle of the screen.

Of course, out of warranty by then. Now the TV is nigh on completely unusable with a massive dark (almost stain-like) patch right in the middle of the screen, the size of a football. What a joke. The old CRT my parents had for 20 years without a hitch. If they had any sense Toshiba would simply offer a no quibble, no time limit panel replacement. But they don't.

(pps - I see TR's haven't fixed this comment box bug. I'm using FF 8.0 on W7 and I can't select anything with the mouse, on the far right side when writing in the comment window.)


November 24, 2011, 1:34 pm

I believe this is a relatively common problem with LCD TVs. Not in the sense that it happens to them all or that it's something that should be accepted but that Toshiba probably shouldn't be singled out as being any worse than any other manufacturer. I think you've just been unlucky.

As for the comments box, I'm not sure what the problem is?

kwg uk

November 24, 2011, 3:57 pm

I have just read a cracking review of the 37" version. It would be interesting to see what Trusted Reviews thinks of this size set. The Freeview & Freesat tuners would be very useful. Even after switchover I still cannot get ITV3, ITV4, Film 4 & a few others so have to use a sky box - taking up valuable shelf space. It would replace my excellent Sony 32EX503. The Toshiba hasn`t got 3d - to me its a gimmick, too expensive. I never use Sony`s online offerings. The 37" Toshiba UL863 looks tempting.


November 24, 2011, 5:40 pm

Hi Ed,

I'm pretty alarmed that this problem is kind of glossed over, generally speaking, as an issue that can effect LCD's and that it shouldn't happen...and oh, well. Tough luck! I think that after spending the best part of a thousand pounds on an idiots lantern (TV), that the damn thing should work for decades of trouble free use. That's not an unreasonable thought process. I think that its' outrageous that this should happen and a manufacturer simply wipe their hands of it. Toshiba have supplied a product with an inherent (and documented) fault. Owning to the nature of this product, I feel that they should fix the issue even after 5 years.

As for the comment box - In FF8 & E9 on a W7 machine, just type a few of lines of text into a fresh comment box then try to select the text on the far right hand side with the mouse - about 3/4's of the way to the right of the comment box - and you can't.

Chrome on the same setup is fine.


November 30, 2011, 3:59 am

Electric Sheep;

It is disingenuous to blame one company for a defect that is a general issue for LCD displays and not specific to one manufacturer. Every TV manufacturer will have this issue in their products, and they will most likely deal with it in the same way. It is also completely wrong to suggest that CRT is 'more reliable' as the history of LCD in mass market TV is less than 10 years, so no realistic comparison can be made. If you want to compare then it should be with the data from CRT production in its first 10/20 years, which I would expect would not be favourable to CRT at all.

Though the process of continuous improvement is much accelerated these days it still takes time to reduce or eradicate issues, especially ones that require a radical rethink of material construction or manufacture technique and every display type has its own inherent shortcomings. Plasmas generally do not last much more than 5 years, are known to suffer higher defect rates than CRT or LCD and until relatively recently the purchase cost was high – do you apply the same logic to this display?

LCD technology, although with us for some time as a display on PC's and in other small scale products, has changed massively in a very short space of time. It only became a display of choice for mass market TV in the last decade and it was an expensive option compared to CRT. In those days there were many problems with uniformity, black level, colour fidelity, response time, memory effect and reliability. New technology will always have numerous issues in its infancy as manufacturers develop them, understand the root causes and solve or improve these issues over time. At the time of the 66 series (2006?) the learning curve was still steep for all manufacturers. It was the same for CRT – in the early days it was a horrendously unreliable tech, a situation that lasted for decades with the electronics (live chassis with voltage drop rails was the norm in those days) causing spectacular failures and the tubes themselves rarely lasting more than a few years. It was only through the 1970's after the advent of the Trinitron tube that things changed radically, research and development accelerated and quality/reliability improved to the point that a CRT lasting 5+ years became the norm rather than the exception.



December 2, 2011, 9:02 pm

@RonRoyce I hardly think that 'disingenuous' is the correct term. I'm sorry, I do not wish to get into a debate with you, as we clearly are coming at this from very different viewpoints. Suffice to say as a consumer, having spent a thousand pounds on a TV, I expect it to last considerably longer that 5 years. Everything else said is just noise.


June 20, 2012, 6:59 pm

Electric Sheep.

Why is it noise?

I am merely documenting how the "new" technologies would have had issues that curtailed their longevity in the past, and in the case of CRT it took decades to make it as reliable as it eventually became, and in the 1960's/1970's TV's were incredibly expensive relative to income. LCD is no different, some issues take may years to find and fix, or in some cases improve to a more acceptable level.

And yes it is disingenuous because you single out a single company for an issue which, in all likelihood, affected all LCD TV manufacturers to varying degrees, and they probably all reacted in a similar way.

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