When Toshiba decides it’s going to make a high-value product, it usually means business. With the possible exception of Samsung, we’d argue there’s no other brand right now able to consistently achieve such a good balance of performance and features on extremely aggressively-priced TVs.
With this in mind, we’re pretty psyched about Toshiba’s 46TL868. For as Toshiba happily admits, this new 46in set was designed from the ground up to deliver a premium design and active 3D on a budget to a cash-strapped but enthusiastic Christmas/New Year marketplace.
The ‘premium design’ is predominantly based on the extreme slenderness of the 46TL868’s bezel. Its top, left and right edges protrude barely 1cm beyond the edges of the screen. As well as looking very cool, this ultra-slim bezel ensures the TV can comfortably fit into the same space as a typical 42in TV. And not having much bezel to see seems to focus your attention on the picture more, too.
The slightly ‘grained’, matt finish to the bezel might not be to everyone’s tastes, perhaps, but we find ourselves quite taken by it. If only, perhaps, because it’s something a bit different from the high-gloss norm.
When it comes to connections, there’s some immediate bad news in that most of them face straight out of the TV’s rear, making the set a potentially tricky wall-hanging option. However, in terms of number of connections, Toshiba’s set is up there with TVs costing three times as much. Four HDMIs are on hand for HD and 3D duties, for instance, while the set’s multimedia ‘skills’ include two USB ports able to play video (including DivX HD), photo and music files, and a LAN port through which you can stream files from a networked DLNA PC or access Toshiba’s ‘Places’ online service.
There are also RF and satellite LNB inputs, though since the satellite feed isn’t backed up by Freesat ‘packaging’, most people will be left with the RF tuner. So it’s nice to find that this is a Freeview HD affair, not just a standard definition one.
The Places online service has been a bit frustrating thus far in 2011. For while we’ve admired the look of its interface and its attempt to deliver a ‘personalised’ service able to adapt to the preferences of different users, it just hasn’t had enough content.
Thankfully, Toshiba has recently added a couple of welcome new services to its Places platform: the AceTrax movie purchase/rental service and Facebook. These new additions join the latest version of the BBC iPlayer, the Flickr photo website, DailyMotion, the Aupeo Internet Radio site, Viewster, Woomi, the FunSpot games network, YouTube, meteonews.tv, and three subscription video channels: Box Office 365, the Cartoon Network, and HiT Entertainment.
While the new additions are welcome, though, Toshiba Places continues to lag behind the content levels of rival platforms. So here’s hoping Toshiba can keep adding new features thick and fast, to put some meat on the mostly impressive bones of its interface.
Despite being extremely affordable for an active 3D TV, the 46TL868 is reasonably well stocked with picture features. It claims a 200Hz system for a start, plus you can adjust the backlight as well as the normal contrast and brightness settings.
There’s also a ‘colour master’ system that allows you to tweak the hue, saturation and brightness of the red, green, blue, yellow, magenta and cyan colour elements, as well as the overall red, green and blue levels of the colour temperature.