Still, while the 42RL853’s online features aren’t exactly comprehensive, the three services you get are genuinely useful ones, and any online functionality arguably counts as a bonus on a 42in Freeview HD TV costing comfortably less than £600.
Also a handy bonus on such a cheap TV are its surprisingly extensive picture management tools. You can, for instance, adjust the hue, saturation and brightness of the red, green, blue, yellow, magenta and cyan colour components, as well as shifting the image’s black/white balance along a simple sliding scale, and adjusting the image’s gamma level over plus or minus 15 stages from its default position.
White balance can be adjusted using either the 2p or 10p system, too; a test pattern covering everything from detailing to contrast and colour steps is provided if you want to use it; and there’s even an RGB filter with which you can take each of the primary colours out of the picture individually to aid colour tuning. This is all seriously impressive stuff that humbles some TVs costing twice as much.
The gamma and colour management tools definitely yield benefits when used in conjunction even with something as easy to get hold of as the Digital Video Essentials HD Basics Blu-ray calibration disc.
Although we’ve come up with a significant amount of feature differences between the 42RL853 and the 42HL833, their core picture engines actually appear to be more or less the same. For as well as both using edge LED lighting, they’re both 50Hz only models, delivering claimed dynamic contrast ratios of 3,000,000:1.
However, the extra calibration tools on the RL853 model should help you get more out of the picture engine, and there’s a potentially significant extra trick up the RL853’s sleeve in the form of Toshiba’s Resolution system for increasing the sharpness of (especially upscaled standard definition) images.
It certainly seemed to us that the 42RL853’s pictures are at least a couple of notches better than those of the 42HL833. There’s a little more nuance and naturalism to its post-calibration colours, for instance, which means they combine the already good vibrancy levels for a budget set with greater subtlety and tonal accuracy.
It’s also possible to make standard definition pictures look sharper than they did on the 42HL833 without, crucially, introducing unpleasant amounts of noise. Provided, at least, that you don’t push the Resolution setting too high – we’d suggest leaving it at level 3 at the highest, and level 2 is probably safest.