- Bright and colourful pictures
- Good remote control
- USB multimedia playback
- Sound is a touch tinny
- limited viewing angle
- Severe backlight inconsistency
- Review Price: £139.99
- 22in CCFL LCD TV
- USB multimedia support
- Freeview tuner
- HD Ready resolution
- 8,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
At just £140 if you look around online, this 22in Toshiba model costs only slightly over half as much as Sony’s 22EX320. Not surprisingly the 22BV501’s price comes with strings attached when it comes to build quality and features. But this will be easily forgivable provided the set delivers the goods with its picture quality.
Let’s start at the beginning, though, with the 22BV501’s design. Which is actually quite cute thanks to a combination of a reasonably trim bezel for a budget TV, a very glossy black finish, and a sharp little strip of silver running along the TV’s bottom edge. The only obvious sign of cheapness is its rather plasticky build quality.
We’re a little concerned by the narrowness of the attached foot-stand, though; we could certainly imagine a young child being able to wobble the set over without having to try too hard, unless it’s positioned out of their reach.
The 22BV501’s connections are sufficient. There’s only a single HDMI when ideally we might have liked two, but elsewhere there’s a Scart socket, a component video input, a composite video input, an RF input and, best of all, a degree of multimedia support from a D-Sub PC port and a USB socket.
The USB port is particularly unexpected in that it doesn’t just show JPEG photograph files; you can also use it for playback of music and MPEG-1/MPEG2/XviD (.avi, .mpg, .mpeg, .mpe) video files. This doesn’t quite cover all the usual video file types but it’s a start and still a potentially very handy feature to have on a second-room TV.
The RF input, meanwhile, feeds a Freeview tuner, but not an HD one. Which is a pretty fair compromise to make on a TV as small as 22in so far as we’re concerned.
Turning to the 22BV501’s internal specification, its resolution is an HD Ready 1366×768, while its contrast is rated – rather promisingly for this level of the market – at 8,000:1. Its brightness is rated rather less promisingly at 300cd/m2.
Not surprisingly the picture is a standard 50Hz one, though the screen’s claimed 5ms response time is satisfactorily quite low for a small TV, and so hopefully motion reproduction will be decent even without the aid of a 100Hz system.
Accompanying the 22BV501 is a really pleasant surprise in the shape of a remote control that doesn’t suck. It’s unusually large size allows it to carry big, spaciously laid out buttons, and those buttons are also unusually responsive and tactile. Excellent.
The onscreen menus aren’t quite so pleasant. They open up with some colourful but rather crude icons, before heading off into some fairly text heavy option lists that aren’t especially easy to use. That said, you don’t need a pair of binoculars to read the menu text like you do with some small-screen TVs.
It’s perhaps worth noting that the menus on the 22BV501 aren’t in keeping with Toshiba’s usual menu structure, making us wonder if this TV isn’t all Toshiba’s own work…
Features of note within the onscreen menus are a series of presets (including a Game one), an unusual red-to-green sliding bar for adjusting colour tones, a noise reduction system, and an HDMI True Black option that boosts – with mostly good results – the depth of dark colours from whatever source you’ve got attached to the HDMI port.
After the strangely muted pictures of Sony’s 22EX320, we were immediately struck by just how bright the 22BV501’s pictures look. They look almost radiant, in fact, making them able to function perfectly well in a bright environment like a conservatory or kitchen.
In fact, the brightness can become overwhelming if you stick with the Dynamic preset that’s selected in the TV’s out of the box state, resulting in bright images looking washed out and ‘flared’. Shift to the set’s Natural preset, though, and you still get plenty of punch without losing detail in bright areas.
The 22BV501’s brightness also helps the TV deliver some engagingly vibrant, well-saturated colours. But again, provided you avoid the dynamic preset, these colours aren’t so gaudy that they look horribly unnatural, and they’re not so ‘full on’ that they make it impossible to make out a fair degree of subtlety in their blends and mixes.
Yet more good news concerns the 22BV501’s sharpness. HD pictures on the screen clearly exhibit the HD format’s extra detail and clarity, instantly giving the lie to the argument that you can’t appreciate HD on a screen smaller than 26in.
The 22BV501’s standard definition pictures are pretty good too, looking slightly crisper than those of many other small TVs. They also look impressively devoid of noise, suggesting that the upscaling engine Toshiba has tucked inside its entry-level 22in TV is better than might have been expected.
A key contributor to the TV’s apparent sharpness is its freedom from excessive motion blur. There is some loss of resolution over moving objects, but it’s nothing like as heavy duty as it is on most other similarly affordable small TVs.
During normal ‘daytime TV’ viewing, the 22BV501 appears to have a pretty good black level response too. Certainly there’s markedly less greyness over dark areas than you might expect from such an affordable TV.
Many of Toshiba’s 2011 TVs, though, have suffered with backlight consistency flaws, where some parts of dark scenes suffer with a clouding effect while other parts don’t. And this trend continues on the 22BV501. With knobs on.
In fact, its backlight problems are possibly the worst we’ve ever seen. Trying to watch a very dark scene like the opening black and white sequence from Casino Royale reveals not only a narrow ‘frame’ of backlight bleed right around the TV’s edges and clear ‘jets’ of extra light coming in from each corner, but also a big (three to four inches across), roundish patch of yellow-tinged light right over the image’s centre. Yikes.
Needless to say, this causes a level of disengagement when watching dark scenes that renders them borderline unwatchable. So it’s fair to say, then, that the screen isn’t going to be any good at all for film or game fans – despite the screen delivering a reasonably low input lag figure of 40ms.
One other negative about the 22BV501’s pictures is that they lose contrast and colour saturation if watched from much of an angle. But in this regard, at least, Toshiba’s set is only repeating a problem found to some extent on all other LCD TVs, especially the cheaper and smaller ones.
The 22BV501‘s audio, meanwhile, is slightly better than average than it is with most budget flat TVs. It still sounds tinny and compressed when pushed by anything more rumbunctious than a basic ‘chatshow’ level of sound mix, but with normal ‘daytime TV’ fodder it’s perfectly fine.
First impressions of the 22BV501 suggest that it’s a bargain of huge proportions, delivering bright, colourful, crisp pictures that fit perfectly within a kitchen or conservatory environment when just being used for casual TV broadcast viewing. Or maybe for watching an endless stream of animated kid’s movies. If the latter circumstances describe your needs, then the 22BV501 is definitely worth considering given how cheap it is.
However, if you’re looking for something at all ‘serious’, which might be usable for watching the occasional non-animated movie or for playing PC and console games, then the 22BV501’s egregious backlight problems make it a non-starter.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6
Sound Quality 7
|Full HD 1080p||No|
|Refresh Rate (Hertz)||50Hz|
|Digital Audio Out||1 (coaxial)|
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