Summary

Our Score

8/10

User Score

Pros

  • Remarkably good value
  • Good feature count for the money
  • Bright, punchy pictures

Cons

  • Online features not very expansive
  • Black level response
  • Thin audio

Review Price £481.36

Key Features: 42in edge-lit LED LCD TV; Freeview HD tuner; Multimedia playback from USB; Colour management system; Online functions inc. BBC iPlayer

Manufacturer: Toshiba

Design and Specs

Just last week we looked at Toshiba’s new entry-level full HD 42in TV, the Toshiba 42HL833. But while it was perfectly acceptable, it didn’t impress us nearly as comprehensively as some of Toshiba’s previous budget models. We’re hopeful, though, that Toshiba’s step up 42in model, the 42RL853, will impress us rather more. Especially as one of those marvellous Internet pricing quirks we sometimes come across means we’ve actually found the 42RL853 selling more cheaply at £579 than its less well equipped 42HL833 sibling!

Aesthetically, the 42RL853 establishes superiority over the 42HL833 courtesy of an extra strip of silver in its bottom edge, a more elegant desktop stand, and slightly reduced height and depth measurements. This might not sound like much, but even these minor changes do actually make the 42RL853 look less like a budget TV than the 42HL833.

Spinning the TV around reveals that its connections mostly face straight out rather than being positioned for side access - something which could prove problematic if you wanted to hang a 42RL853 on a wall. Though we suspect - as does Toshiba, presumably - that not many people at the budget end of the market will be bothered with hanging their TV up.
Toshiba 42RL853
In fact, the 42RL853 is very unusual by today’s standards in that it actually arrives already attached to a desktop stand. Which meant we didn’t have to fasten it on to a stand ourselves. Bonus!

There are some telling improvements to the 42RL853’s connectivity versus the HL833 model, too. For instance, the 42RL853 provides four HDMIs to the 42HL833’s two, and three USB inputs versus the 42HL833‘s one. Just as importantly, you also get a LAN port on the 42RL853 whereas you didn’t on the 42HL833.

The provision of the extra HDMIs speaks for itself in terms of the 42RL853’s ability to connect to more high quality sources, while the extra USBs make it possible to make the TV wi-fi via an optional dongle, as well as allowing you to attach multiple USB devices containing photo, music or video files.

The LAN port is arguably the single most significant addition to the 42RL853’s connection list, though, for it indicates a number of cool things. First, it’s there as mandatory support for a built-in Freeview HD tuner. The 42HL833, by comparison, only had a standard definition Freeview tuner.

It also offers access to content stored on a networked, DLNA-ready PC (though setting this up is a little more complicated than usual), and it even provides access to some online services, namely the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and the Flickr photo storage ‘cloud’ site.

It should be noted, though, that these three Internet services are ‘stand alones’, accessed directly from the 42RL853’s onscreen menus, rather than being part of a wider online ‘Smart TV’ system. To get access to such a system on a Toshiba TV, you’ll need a set equipped with Toshiba’s ‘Places’ online platform. These models start at the brand’s SL863 level.

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