People who read our recent review of Toshiba’s 40WL753 edge-LED TV might be able to guess that these picture quality issues centre around the 46VL758’s black level response. Or more specifically, its inability to deliver an equal level of brightness/darkness across every part of the screen. Even a fairly cursory examination of the screen when showing dark movie or game sequences reveals as many as seven different-sized patches where the picture looks brighter than it does across the rest of the screen – a situation that makes you feel like you’re watching your film through a pair of glasses with spots of dust on them.
Well, maybe that’s exaggerating things a bit – especially since the backlight inconsistency problem is not visible when watching bright scenes. But if you’re anything like us (and we like to think we’re at least partially normal!), once you’ve spotted the inconsistencies, you can’t stop yourself looking out for them.
All of which makes for a strangely tense viewing experience – and certainly not one that leaves you feeling totally engaged with what you’re watching.
This is doubly true, moreover, if you find yourself having to watch the screen from much of an angle, for once you get beyond around 30 degrees from directly opposite it, the backlight inconsistencies begin to look even worse.
The black level response around the extra-bright areas is actually surprisingly good by edge-LED standards, though, suggesting that Toshiba at least knows how to control its edge-LED light system on a general luminance level.
The picture also does its best to distract you from the backlight flaws with a pretty intense colour response; bright scenes therefore look very dynamic and rich. But crucially, unlike some edge-LED screens that push colours hard, the 46VL758’s colours can be made to look surprisingly credible in terms of both tonal naturalism and blend subtlety – at least once you’ve put a little time into calibrating them properly to remove some marginal red and yellow ‘push’ visible with the initial presets.
Yet more good news concerns the way the 46VL758 reproduces the sense of detail and crispness that’s so key to high definition viewing – especially as it does a solid job of suppressing motion blur. The motion processing on the set isn’t immaculate; you do occasionally see a twitch here and there during rapid camera pans. But the processing side effects occur rarely enough, in our opinion, to leave the pros outweighing the cons.
There isn’t much to redeem the 46VL758’s audio performance, though. Even by the generally underwhelming standards of very skinny TVs, this Toshiba sounds unusually fragile, flimsy and underpowered. There’s practically no bass at all, trebles quickly turn harsh at high volumes or during dense audio scenes, and the mid-range appears cramped and is quickly overwhelmed when asked to handle anything more than the most basic of daytime TV fodder.
It’s good to see with the design-led 46VL758 that Toshiba still has a few high-end ambitions. The set is very elegantly put together too, despite not being quite as aggressively stylish as it perhaps could have been. But while its pictures certainly have their moments, its backlight inconsistency and sound flaws make watching the 46VL758 for any extended amount of time a disappointingly uneven experience.