The 40SL753’s black level response is emphatically superior to that of Toshiba’s CCFL LCD TVs, meanwhile. In fact, it’s very good compared with the majority of other LCD TVs of all types and brands at the 40SL753’s price level.
Having said all this, while the 40SL753’s pictures can look excellent under the right conditions, we haven’t set its picture rating at just 7 out of 10 just to be spiteful.
The main reason it doesn’t score higher is that while the screen’s black level response and contrast are innately good, they come with a big string attached: uneven backlighting. This is present to some degree on many LCD TVs, especially edge LED-lit ones. But it’s more severe here than usual, leaving very obvious patches of extra brightness visible during dark scenes in all of the screen’s corners. And every time you spot them, it jolts you right out of what you’re watching. Plus, of course, after you’ve seen them once, you start looking for them all the time.
You can reduce the impact of the problem by setting the backlight and brightness settings lower, but even after we’d made the picture darker than we were comfortable with, the problem still hadn’t totally gone away.
Also slightly distracting on occasion is motion blur. While not bad for a sub-£650 40in LCD TV, this can nonetheless take a little edge off fast-moving HD material, despite the fact that the 40SL753 carries Toshiba’s Active Vision M100 processing, complete with 100Hz.
One final concern for people with small living rooms and large families is that the 40SL753’s viewing angle seems even more limited than usual for LCD TVs. Even at 30 degrees off axis contrast and colour take a hit, with the colour and black level reduction increasing exponentially with every subsequent degree wider you go.
The 40SL753’s audio is pretty much as we’d expect from an affordable edge LED TV. Which is to say, decidedly average. The speakers are just about powerful enough to cope enjoyably with the relatively low-level demands of normal TV broadcasts, but they soon start sounding underpowered, thin and overwhelmed when James Cameron gets his action mojo on.
While we applaud Toshiba for joining LG's recent 37LE5900 in trying to make edge LED LCD TVs genuinely affordable, as with its Korean rival, the 40SL753 falls prey to one or two significant performance weaknesses.
It can produce some really good images if all the picture planets happen to line up in just the right way, and this could be enough to sway a purchase from a relatively casual TV user. But we suspect that anyone interested in AV enough to be reading this review will probably find the 40SL753's backlight inconsistencies and inscrutable multimedia features a compromise too far.