We have our doubts if many people likely to be interested in a relatively unambitious TV like the 42HL833 will really care about such a colour management system. Certainly we suspect many people would have preferred a Freeview HD tuner if they’d been given the choice. But hey – the colour management system is there, it’s nicely presented, and it can actually improve the 42HL833’s picture quality. So it’s really not something we should moan about.
There’s also a gamma adjustment, and separate standard and MPEG noise reduction circuits. But really the only remaining important feature is the 42HL833’s multimedia ‘portal’, through which it can play a wide array of different file types directly off USB storage devices. Formats supported include XviD, H.264 and MKV-packaged video formats.
Also worth mentioning before we get to the 42HL833’s picture quality is how easy the set is to use. Its onscreen menus are clean and include a few graphics (a novelty for Toshiba!), and although its remote control is plasticky and ugly, it’s surprisingly intuitive and responsive.
The only annoying thing from an ease of use perspective is the set’s horribly clunky mechanism for shifting between HD and standard def sources. The screen goes blue for as much as three or four seconds, and the set emits a most undignified noise. As well as making the set feel like a throwback to the very first days of HD, the ugliness of the resolution-switching process actually makes us feel a little concerned about the 42HL833’s long-term reliability. Though we must stress that this is just a concern; we don’t have any hard proof of any potential problems.
The big question as we get down to scrutinising the 42HL833’s pictures is whether Toshiba’s move to edge LED lighting for its entry level models has paid off. And rather pathetically the only answer we can come up with is: maybe.
There are some definite upsides, mostly focussed around the image’s dynamism and punch. Brightness levels, for a start, are clearly higher than those of Toshiba’s equivalent CCFL models from last year, which immediately makes you feel more connected with them.
Not surprisingly the extra light output also helps colours look more vibrant and punchy than they do on Toshiba’s previous CCFL models. What’s most pleasing about the 42HL833’s colours, though, is how believable they look. Bright scenes easily avoid the tendency to slide into the PC-biassed colour temperatures sometimes exhibited by entry level sets.
The extra punch to the edge-lit images has another positive knock-on effect too, in that it helps the full HD screen bring out all the detailing in good HD images more effectively. So it’s great to also discover that the clarity isn’t severely upset by resolution loss over moving objects, despite the 42HL833 only having bog-standard 50Hz playback. Clearly the native response time of the panel must be pretty decent.