The problem with the 47VL863B is that it’s not a particularly brilliant 2D TV. The main reason for this is that its black level response isn’t up there with the best of its rivals. Dark scenes tend to look rather grey instead of black unless you ramp down the backlight output so far that shadow detailing takes a real hit. Plus there’s a little black level inconsistency, with some areas of the screen looking brighter than others, and a little brightness ‘jumping’ going on at times if you’ve got the set’s dynamic LED system engaged.
It was notable, too, that the TV’s black level and colour response diminish quite severely if you have to watch the set from more than 30 degrees or so off axis.
In other respects, though, the 47VL863B’s 2D pictures are mostly pretty good. Colours are rich and vibrant, and although the presets aren’t great at delivering particularly natural looking tones, it’s no great hardship to get things looking better via the provided colour management tools.
HD images look detailed and quite sharp, too. There’s some resolution loss over moving objects, but it’s not severe, and if it bothers you it can be reduced via the Active Vision M400 processing system. We’d recommend that you only use this system on its Standard rather than Smooth setting, as the Smooth setting makes films look like videos. Neither setting, though, produces the sort of aggressive unwanted processing side effects that can trouble so many motion processing engines.
Turning to standard definition sources, it’s no surprise from past experience to find Toshiba’s Resolution system doing an unusually good job of adding sharpness to DVDs and, especially, Freeview tuner broadcasts. However, you should only use Resolution up to around half of its maximum strength, otherwise the sharpness gives way to dotting noise.
Actually, with low quality digital broadcasts the Resolution system is problematic even on its lowest power setting, since it tends to exaggerate MPEG noise. But you can always turn it off if it hinders more than it helps. Or you can experiment with the TV’s noise reduction systems, as these can calm the noise down without taking away all the extra sharpness Resolution was designed to add.
Gaming on the 47VL863B is decent fun. The rather average black level response can occasionally be problematic during very dark sequences, but the picture looks decently sharp, and we measured input lag at a respectable 35ms using the TV’s Game preset.
The 47VL863B’s audio, finally, is about par for the affordable flat TV course. This means that the speakers struggle to deliver much in the way of bass, leaving trebles often sounding rather exposed, and the mid-range overloaded. There is perhaps more raw volume than you get from some skinny TVs but decent volume isn’t the only thing you need for a good sound performance.
Some edge LED flaws when showing dark scenes in 2D stop the 47VL863B from being anything more than a solid 2D performer. Also, while there’s potential in the new Toshiba Places ‘smart TV’ system, right now it’s rather off the pace compared with what some rivals are doing in the online TV arena.
However, the 47VL863B’s bright, breezy and respectable 3D performance ensures that it’s a set that anyone after a moderately priced, family friendly, big-screen 3D TV really should at least put on their audition list.