The onscreen menus are basic and generic but do a generally good job of presenting their information. The blue/yellow main menu lists the options down the left with a screen showing live TV on the right. You can edit TV channels, check the installation settings, set the factory default and, if you’re really sad, check which version of the software is being used.
There are three groups of settings here – one for the screen, one for the onscreen menu itself and one for the rest of the system. In the latter you can select from five sound EQ presets, turn virtual surround on and select which type you want (Concert, Church, Passive, Live). In the ‘TV’ menu, you can set the levels of brightness, contrast, hue and saturation of the screen. Elsewhere there’s a separate setup menu for DVD playback, which includes additional Enhanced Audio Mode (EAM) and Dynamic Range Control settings.
Features-wise, there are a few other goodies to report. First up the deck will play DivX, JPEG and MP3 files from SD card, DVD or CD, but not anything as exotic as DivX Plus HD or MKV. Battery life is quoted at four hours, and in the box you get a car adapter, headphones, carry case, mains adapter and of course the remote control.
This zapper is the source of the unit’s biggest operational problem. It’s small and compact but Toshiba has still tried to cram in as many tiny buttons as possible, leaving it really cluttered and fiddly to use. Stripping it down to the basics would have been the way to go. Also, controlling these menus is a bit counter intuitive given the software’s insistence that you press Enter to return to the previous menu rather than providing a ‘back’ button. As a result, you have to press the right direction key to select options. Weird. Also, play and stop are buried away among the masses of buttons at the bottom, separate from the rest of the playback keys. To switch between TV, SD card and DVD you have to hit the mode button either on the player or remote and select the relevant option from the menu.
Spec-heads are probably wondering what the player’s vital statistics are, so we’ll tell you. Brightness and contrast ratio are quoted as 250cd/m2 and 500:1 respectively, but the one that’ll have the greatest bearing on performance is the 640 x 234 screen resolution. It doesn’t take Carol Vorderman to work out that that’s quite a lot lower than the resolution of your average PAL DVD, which means the image has to be downscaled to fit the screen. The result of this is a visible pixel structure, soft, ill-defined edges and hazy detail, particularly during dark scenes.