Issues with previous Toshiba TVs have tended to centre around contrast issues – most specifically backlight inconsistencies. So it’s probably sensible to start our tests by feeding the Toshiba 40L6353 some dark movie scenes and test signals.
At first the news looks rather mixed. On the upside, the set’s black delivery looks very able. Certainly there’s surprisingly little evidence of the low-contrast greyness associated with a surprising number of rival panels this year – even some models way more expensive than the Toshiba 40L6353.
On the downside, there are clear signs during dark scenes of a few smallish patches of ‘light bleed’ from the picture’s edges, as well as some quite distracting shifts in the image’s overall brightness level as the TV tries to automatically optimise its backlight output to suit the image content. The darkest parts of pictures also look somewhat hollow, thanks to the backlight machinations squeezing out a bit too much shadow detail.
Thankfully it doesn’t take much work to greatly improve on all of these early negatives. Turning off the Active Backlight Control instantly solves the fluctuations in overall brightness caused by the rather basic and hyperactive dynamic contrast engine.
Nudging down the backlight setting, meanwhile, to around its 60 level greatly reduces incidences of the backlight clouding/leakage, and if this backlight setting is used in conjunction with the active backlight control being switched off, you also see a respectable if hardly groundbreaking amount of subtle detail in dark scenes.
These settings also, after only a relatively small amount of fine-tuning with the set’s colour and white balance management tools (to take out a bit of excess yellow), help the Toshiba 40L6353 deliver an excellent colour performance for the a sub-£500 40-inch TV. Tones look credible at almost all times, even during dark scenes, while analysis of actors’ skin reveals enough subtlety in the way tonal shifts are delivered to stop people looking like mannequins.
Calibrated pictures on the 40L6353 are certainly not the brightest we’ve seen from an LCD TV, yet thanks to the panel’s deep black level response it still manages to makes its colours look bold and dynamic. You never feel as if the palette is too basic or ‘PC-tuned’ either, as can happen with some cheap LCD TVs.
The 40L6353’s HD pictures are pleasingly sharp for a sub-£500 40-inch TV, too. You can clearly see the deliberate grain in titles like Casino Royale, while the sort of HD niceties – grass texture, clothing weaves, facial pores, individual hairs – we’d expect a good TV to deliver are all clearly present and correct. So long, at any rate, as you remember to deactivate the set’s noise reduction systems when watching HD.
It helps the impression of sharpness, too, that the Toshiba 40L6353 doesn’t suffer badly with motion blur for such a cheap model. Certainly there’s more resolution loss on show than you would expect to see with more expensive rivals, but it’s seldom distracting and never results in actual smearing – so long, again, as you don’t bother with the noise reduction routines.
The 40L6353’s motion handling does suffer, though, with some noticeable judder, at least when watching Blu-rays. And it has to be said that the once-impressive Resolution upscaling/picture sharpening system is showing its age a bit now, as it tends to leave images looking rather noisy once it’s applied its detail-boosting processing. Yet if you turn the processing off, standard def pictures look slightly soft and rather basic with their colour resolution.
With no 3D images to detain us, we can move swiftly on to the 40L6353’s input lag and audio talents. Regarding the former, the Toshiba 40L6353 proves a capable gaming monitor by turning in a respectably low input lag figure of around 32ms.
As for its audio, it’s actually quite handy considering how thin and cheap it is. The mid-range is open and wide, allowing voices to sound believable and remain clear even under quite a bit of duress, while it takes quite extreme volume levels to make the soundstage become harsh.
The soundstage is ultimately a bit boxy in its tone, making you feel aware of the plasticky and small speaker constructs that are producing it. But there’s not really much you can complain about sonically on such a cheap TV.
If money’s tight then yes, you’d be crazy not to at least give the Toshiba 40L6353 an audition. Its pictures – or at least its HD pictures – are far better than those of pretty much any other sub-£450 40-inch TV we can think of and its sound is respectable too. While flawed and short of content, Toshiba’s ‘Cloud TV’ smart TV engine is showing signs of life, too.
If you can stretch your budget another £120 then you will benefit from more even-handed backlighting, better motion handling and more video streaming services on the Sony KDL-42W653A. But £120 is £120, right?!
The Toshiba 40L6353 is a great example of Toshiba doing what it does best: delivering more or less mid-range levels of AV performance at a more or less budget price. It’s not without its picture flaws and the sluggishness of its operating system can be irritating, but for its money it’s still a real temptation.