The 42RL853's motion handling, meanwhile, remains as surprisingly clean for a 50Hz LCD TV as it was on the 42HL833. There’s not really any motion trailing at all, and while there is some resolution loss over moving objects, it’s not severe by any means for the budget end of the market.
HD pictures look crisp and detailed without suffering noise, and actually, the lack of picture processing in the 42RL853 makes HD pictures look pleasingly clean and direct.
The brightness of the 42RL853’s pictures is striking for a budget TV too - and it’s here, we suspect, where you get the most benefit from Toshiba’s shift to edge LED for even its budget 2011 TVs.
As with the 42HL833, though, the edge LED engine in the 42RL853 turns out to be a double-edged sword. For while light images look bright and breezy, the screen struggles to portray a convincing black level during dark scenes. There’s a general grey pall over blackness that none of the provided image presets - even the darkest ‘Hollywood 1’ one - get close to solving.
Manually reducing the backlight output to practically zero just about put the grey misting effect to bed, but the resulting images were so dim that you could only contemplate watching them in a completely dark room. And even then you’d most likely feel that they lacked too much pop and shadow detail to bother with.
One thing in the 42RL853’s favour compared with the 42HL833, though, is the fact that its backlight levels seem more consistent. In other words, there aren’t any areas of the picture during dark scenes that look distractingly brighter than others, so long as you haven’t got the backlight level set too high.
Concluding our assessment of the 42RL853’s performance with its audio, oddly it didn’t seem to perform quite as well as the already average 42HL833. This is really weird, as according to Toshiba’s spec sheets the 42RL853 actually has more power than the 42HL833. But it really seemed to us as if the more expensive model’s soundstage was thinner and less punchy, especially at high volumes.
The only thing in the 42RL853’s audio favour is that it seems to handle treble detailing with more sensitivity - but this doesn’t really mean much in the context of the 42RL853’s thin mid-range and painfully limited bass.
The 42RL853 does enough with its features and handling of normal, day to day TV fodder to be well worth considering by anyone out to maximise their screen-size-to-budget ratio. It’s certainly a preferable option to Toshiba’s own 42HL833, and comfortably outclasses anything you’ll find from the sort of ‘no-name’ brands often found knocking around in the 42RL853’s ultra-affordable territory.
If you consider yourself a movie fan, though, the set’s black level and audio issues will likely represent a compromise too far.