It’s good, too, to find that the Toshiba 40TL963’s respectable black level response doesn’t require the screen to crush out too much shadow detail from dark scenes, despite also being able to deliver a reasonable level of punch to bright parts of predominantly dark shots.
The 40TL963 does, though, fall prey to a rather common Toshiba TV problem: backlight inconsistency. During very dark scenes our test sample displayed some clear patches of differing brightness in places, especially on the right hand side. We managed to reduce the impact of these inconsistencies by taking the backlight right down to around 30 per cent, but there were still occasions during very dark material where the cloudy grey patches could prove distracting.
Please note, though, that the inconsistencies aren’t visible at all during routine bright footage, even with the backlight cranked high.
Another area where the Toshiba 40TL963’s affordability sneaks into its performance is its standard definition pictures. The upscaling process doesn’t sharpen pictures up quite as much as we’d like, and nor does it take out as much source noise as we’d like. The results are nonetheless very watchable, mind you, and again can be considered better than the norm for the sub-£600 40in price level.
The 3D bit
Turning to 3D, the first thing to do is moan about there not being any 3D glasses included for free with the TV. But then we guess Toshiba wouldn’t be able to sell the TV so cheaply if 3D glasses were included.
If you do invest in 3D glasses, you’re rewarded with a solid 3D effort. Detail levels are quite high, the image’s contrast is strong, the dimming effect of the active shutter glasses hides the backlight consistency problems, and the sense of depth is good. The 3D pictures could be brighter, and there’s more crosstalk around than we’d like to see. But overall it’s a very good effort indeed considering we’re talking about full HD active 3D images on a 40in TV costing just £540.
Gamers interested in the Toshiba 40TL963 will be reasonably happy to note that we measured a typical input lag figure for the TV of around 39ms using the Game preset. However, strangely we picked up a few measurements where the lag slipped as high as 70ms for no good reason we could fathom.
Wrapping up proceedings with the 40TL963’s audio performance, it’s slightly better than expected for a slim TV. The soundstage is quite large, and the dynamic range is reasonably extensive, with even a hint of bass when required. Loud action scenes can sound a bit harsh, but then this is true also of the vast majority of other skinny-framed TVs in town.
If you’re looking for a mid-range TV with designer looks at a bargain bucket price, it’s difficult to see how you could do better than the Toshiba 40TL963. That said, we still can’t bring ourselves to give it an unbridled recommendation on account of its backlight inconsistencies - though these shouldn’t trouble you often unless you happen to be a fairly serious cinephile.