The 46TL963‘s onscreen menus are much more ergonomical than its remote. They use Toshiba’s ‘double wheel’ approach, which puts the main menu headers in a rotatable inner half circle, and sub-menus leading off from the main ones in a rotatable outer circle, with you able to jump easily between the two. The icons for this logical system are nicely presented too.
Once you get into the ‘meat’ of a particular submenu the presentation perhaps disappointingly reverts to a more standard text list approach. But this does at least keep the business end of the operating system clear and straightforward.
As usual with a Toshiba TV, despite the 46TL963 being extremely affordable for its level of spec, its picture menus contain a startling amount of setup flexibility. There’s a colour management system, a gamma control engine, a black/white balance control, a multi-level active backlight control, both standard and block noise reduction, and off/Standard/High settings for the set’s Active Vision motion processing system.
Rather less comprehensive is Toshiba’s ‘Places’ online service. Things start out OK, thanks to what remains arguably the best-presented online TV interface in town, which separates different types of content into separate places - like the TV place, the Video Place, the Music place, the Social place and so on.
The problem is that there’s nothing very much in most of these places. For instance, the TV place just has the BBC iPlayer, the Cartoon Network, Box Office 365, and Hit Entertainment - the last three of which are subscription only. The Video place, meanwhile, has Acetrax, Viewster, YouTube, Dailymotion, and Woomi - hardly a comprehensive selection in these days where LoveFilm and Netflix apps are found on almost every other online TV platform.
And so the paucity of content continues across all the various places, ultimately making Toshiba’s on-paper sensible way of organising things actually just emphasise how little content there is relative to what’s available on rival platforms right now.
Kicking off our test phase with HD footage from Blu-ray and a Sky HD receiver, the 46TL963 immediately impresses. Detail levels, for instance, are startling for such an affordable TV, as the screen effortlessly renders such HD delights as pore details on closeups, or a sense of individual blades of grass on exterior shots. What’s more, this detail remains largely intact when there’s a lot of motion in the picture, especially if you leave the AMR system set to Standard. Just be warned, though, that the AMR system can cause pictures to look over-processed if you try and use its High setting.
Colours are exceptionally vibrant. In fact, they’re too aggressive using many of the provided picture presets, with reds in particular looking a bit overpowering. The set provides all the tools you need to correct this problem, though, and it really doesn’t take long at all to calm the offending colour saturations down a notch. While you’re at it, we’d also recommend that you shift the contrast setting down from the 100 level used by some presets - including the Standard one - as this can make images look a bit noisy.
More good news for a set as affordable as the 46TL963 is how effective its screen is at soaking up any reflections or lights that might hit it from a normal living room environment. This, as you would expect, has a very beneficial impact on the screen’s perceived contrast performance.
In fact, with ‘typical’ HD viewing, which consistently contains shots combining a mixture of light and dark content, the 46TL963’s contrast range looks excellent for such a high-value set, with punchy whites at one of the spectrum and pleasingly deep blacks at the other. Also, there’s not the same overt grey ‘wash’ over predominantly dark scenes that’s all-too-common at the 46TL963’s price level.