It should be added that the backlight inconsistencies might have been more dramatic had the screen not had a slightly blue undertone to its reproduction of black colours. However, while the 46TL868’s performance with dark scenes isn’t particularly great by the standards of the TV world at large, it’s actually above average for its budget segment of the market.
And so we get to 3D. Dutifully donning a pair of Toshiba’s new 3D glasses (rechargeable and much more stylish and light than Toshiba’s previous efforts, but also a touch narrow), we were mostly startlingly impressed by the quality before us.
For a start, the 46TL868’s active 3D pictures are very bright and colourful, which instantly helps them look deeper, punchier and just more fun than those of many other active 3D TVs.
Also impressive is the stunning amount of fine detail resolved by its 3D pictures. Couple this with the total absence of the sort of horizontal line structure witnessed on large-screen passive 3D TVs, and we find it inexplicable why LG and even a few supposedly independent experts still try to argue that passive 3D - with all its own separate advantages - currently delivers the same HD resolution as the active 3D format.
We were also very impressed to find the TV completely untroubled by the flickering issues you can get with active 3D - provided, at least, that you can keep the lights in your room reasonably low.
3D motion is decently fluid too, and again we were impressed by how little resolution is lost as objects cross the screen. Then there’s the small matter of our most hated 3D bugbear of crosstalk. Which is actually handled pretty well by Toshiba’s budget beauty.
Sure, there are obvious signs of it during any 3D image that has a large amount of depth. But it’s not extensive or aggressive enough to keep dragging your eye to it, and nor does it cause backdrops to look out of focus as they can on some much more expensive active 3D TVs.
Actually our biggest problem with the 46TL868’s 3D performance is related to those jets of light shooting in from its top corners. For these can even be seen over quite light footage when the TV’s running at the high brightness levels required for active 3D viewing, and their presence is underlined by the fact that they’re essentially a ‘2D’ artefact lying across the top of a 3D image.
Overall, though, the 46TL868’s 3D performance continues the theme of its 2D images - namely that it’s not only better than it has any right to be on such a cheap 46in TV, but is also better - or more watchable, at any rate - than some TVs costing considerably more.
The 46TL868’s price makes it a potentially popular gaming monitor as well as TV. As such, it’s good to find that its input lag measured 40ms during our tests. We did record one rogue lag measurement of nearer 70ms, weirdly, but the other 20 measurements we took only varied between 37 and 40ms.
The 46TL868 is - predictably - on less solid ground with its audio performance. Its acutely small bezel and slender rear really leaves no space for speakers of any significance. As a result, while the soundstage is reasonably clean and clear, it also gets scarcely any bass at all, and there isn’t enough power or range to allow the soundstage to open up to accommodate an action movie scene with any real conviction.
Although the 46TL868 doesn’t manage to hide absolutely all traces of its budget focus, it remains a much more enjoyable all-rounder than it really ought to be for so little cash.