Toshiba Regza RL853 (42RL853) LED LCD TV Review
Mark takes a look at Toshiba's entry level RL LED Series
It would be fair to say that Toshiba aren't the highest profile TV manufacturer here in the UK, their marketing drives lagging behind the likes of Sony, Samsung and Panasonic. It's something of a shame given we've had some good things to say about their displays in the past. The RL series comprise Toshiba's base LED/LCD models and don't feature the CEVO powered bells and whistles of the higher-end ranges. There's no 3D, internet hubs, or even, motion interpolation options so hopefully the back to basics approach will pay dividends to picture quality because that's what really counts.
The model under review here is the 42RL853B but there are also smaller iterations available in the 32RL853B and 37RL853B. Whilst we expect the viewing experience will be largely similar, across the range, Toshiba are another manufacturer that employs different panels across the sizes, so some differences may exist.
Although, on paper, the RL853 may not be lighting many peoples fires, we wont let it pass through our testing regime lightly. Read on after the summary and scores for the full in-depth low down.
Design and Features
The first thing that struck us after unboxing the Toshiba 42RL853 was the similarity to Panasonic's G30 plasma. The basic outline of the frame shares the angled corners, at the bottom, and the rectangular swivel stand is of more or less the same proportions. There's a touch more design flair to the Toshiba with its chamfered underside distinguished from the rest of the frame by appearing less glossy and separated by a very thin transparent strip. The chassis is fairly slender at under 4cm in depth and, all in all, it's a fairly classy looking design even if the plastic rear panel does feel pretty cheap.
There were no great surprises with the connection options available for the RL853 with its 4 HDMI inputs - 3 to the rear plus one at the side - with HDMI 1 being ARC compliant. There are legacy Scart, Component and RCA connections, a D-SUB PC port (with corresponding audio input), and a DVB-T2 aerial input capable of receiving OTA high def content through the Freeview HD platform. Finally, at the rear, we have a LAN port and digital audio SPDIF output for passing sound to your AV receiver or Amp. Unfortunately all inputs are outward facing so the slim proportions of the chassis will be somewhat negated for the wall mounting fraternity.
In addition to the fourth HDMI port, at the side we have an USB input, a headphone jack and CAM interface - for access to premium services through digital terrestrial broadcasts. There are also channel up and down, volume control and a standby button mounted on the side of the panel.
We rather liked the supplied remote control and rarely found much need to move our fingers from the centre of operations around the OK button, low-centre of the unit. The weight of the remote felt good and the twin, angled, IR emitters meant we didn't need to pay particular attention to pointing it at the TV. There's a handy QUICK button providing rapid access to picture preset modes, internet services and a sleep timer and a sliding panel, at the bottom, that has a more extensive set of control options for attached HDMI CEC enabled products - as a point of note Toshiba label this feature as REGZA-LINK.
Being the entry-level 1080p LED lit television for Toshiba this year, the RL853 isn't as rich on features as some of the other TVs we've seen recently but there is access to BBC iPlayer, YouTube and flickr which can be done wirelessly, as well as wired, provided you purchase an optional dongle. The RL853 is Windows 7 certified for DLNA functionality and we can attest that everything seems to work nicely in this department. Toshiba have always made much of their Resolution+ standard definition image enhancement but we didn't really find too much cause for excitement, one way or the other, for this particular feature and there's less cause to use it this year given the fact the set is capable of receiving HD content through the aerial. There's also the ability to view photo's or listen to music through connected USB storage devices although quite why anybody wants to listen to music through a TV is a little beyond us! Finally, just as with almost every other TV out there, there's an ambient light sensor that adjusts the backlight to suit viewing conditions but since it messes with the calibrated image, we chose to leave it disabled.
Menus and Set up
After running through the usual country, language and home/shop questions the Toshiba RL853B proceeded to tune all available Freeview services without issue, if a little more slowly than some we've seen. The Electronic Program Guide (EPG) affords an extremely generous 13 channel/2 hour view and although it's not the prettiest EPG we've clapped eyes on, we applaud the number of channels on view.
The Menu is split in to five sub-sections - PICTURE, SOUND, APPLICATIONS, PREFERENCES and SETUP - with the sub menus scrolling horizontally across the top of the screen and the options, contained therein, scrolling vertically. We liked the lay out and interface of the menus, finding it both clearly presented and logically laid out.
Our main are of interest, as ever, lies in the PICTURE menu and here we find all the usual Backlight/Contrast/Brightness/Colour/Tint/Sharpness options in addition to the more advanced calibration controls on offer. Under the Advanced Picture area we have ColourMaster which unlocks Toshiba's attempt at a
CMS; Colour Temperature - that we didn't find the need to use during calibration; Auto Brightness Sensor - which, guess what, adjusts backlight according to ambient conditions; Black/White level - that adjusts the gamma curvenear black as well as the more global Static Gamma slider. There's also a control for Noise Reduction and Resolution+ - neither of which proved particularlry useful and a Cinema Mode on/off option that controls cadence detection for progressive film based content sent interlaced - we'd advise you to set this as 'on'.
The Toshiba RL853B features a number of preset modes - AutoView, Dynamic, Game, Movie, PC and Standard as well as the two most accurate to
industry standardsin Hollywood1 and Hollywood2 providing Day/Night modes respectively. Obviously Toshiba weren't willing to fork out for isfor THXcertification but it's good to see them providing a decent out of box solution for those that prize a degree of accuracy to their picture.
The Expert Picture Settings sub-menu has some further interesting options with Test Pattern - a BBC style Test card with various useful calibration patterns that unfortunately takes you back to the input picture when you make adjustments so best to use a signal generator or disc based patterns. There's also RGB Filter - allowing the switching off of red/green/blue pixels which can be useful for a quick setting of colour luminance if you have an accurate blue filter. There are even 10-100IRE large window patterns for setting
greyscale. and gammaplus the choice of 2 or 10 point [tip=WhiteBal]White Balance[/tip] controls that, unusually, are completely independent of one another. Finally there's a handy Copy To All Inputs selection to save you the bother of writing all the settings down to transfer over as base calibration for other sources..
Out of the Box Measurements
Having ascertained that the Hollywood modes were most accurate to
standards, we set the Backlight to match our viewing environment and the Contrast and Brightness sliders using test patterns. For reasons we'll go in to later, we settled on Hollywood1 as our base and here are the critical corresponding greyscaleand [tip=gamma]gamma[/tip] measurements:
As we can see, the greyscale is noticeably too warm with an excess of red and defecit of blue, throughout, and this was clearly visible with on-screen performance, not just on a graph. In order to give a neutral base for colour, we would like to align the levels of red, green and blue across the scale, given Toshiba have provided a 10 point [tip=WhiteBal]White Balance[/tip] control in the RL853, this shouldn't prove too difficult.
We set a target of 2.2 for [tip=gamma]gamma[/tip] but this an almost arbitrary value and we could easily have aimed higher, given that test conditions were fairly dimly lit. Choosing an appropriate gamma is a combination of lighting conditions, the individual TVs' abilities to display shadow detailing and some personal preference but a value of 2.2 is a good one top shoot for in an 'averagely' lit room. We can see from the gamma point graph, that Hollywood1 was already tracking closely to target and we should be able to flatten it further with the controls available. As a point of note, Hollywood2 gave a far brighter image by default with a gamma value closer to 2.0, that was too washed out for us.
Moving on to our pre-calibrated colour [tip=gamut]gamut[/tip] results and we were presented with the following results:
If you imagine the entirety of the [tip=cie]CIE Diagram[/tip] as the visible spectrum, the triangle within displays the points we're trying to hit for hue and saturation to match the [tip=Rec709]Rec.709[/tip] standard. The results here were pretty average for an accurate preset, with the off hue performance of green being the most noticeable for real world content. Fortunately luminance performance - which isn't displayed in the CIE Diagram but can be seen in the Gamut Luminance Chart - is pretty good. Our eyes are far more sensitive to luminance errors so large [tip=DeltaE]Delta Errors[/tip] here would have resulted in a far less satisfactory performance than the out-of-box results gave.
Toshiba have provided a full 3D
CMSin the Regza RL853 but we've had mixed results in the past, when using the luminance controls that have sometimes resulted in large aberrations in real world content, despite the graphs looking good. As mentioned earlier, luminance errors were already at an acceptable level so hopefully not too much frustration lay ahead...
Overall, we've seen better 'most accurate' presets but we'd still advise readers to use the Hollywood modes for best results.
Given the linearity of the greyscale errors and the 10 point white balance controls on offer, we were hopeful of great results in the calibrated performance and we weren't to be disappointed as the following charts reveal:
There's almost very little to say with results such as these other than we can score the RL853 'Reference' in this department. We have, to the eye, complete neutrality in the greyscale and gamma response is all but ruler flat. We've already made a big improvement to on-screen images so we'll move on to tackle the CMS to see what can be improved for gamut performance.
Alas, we weren't able to replicate the formidable greyscale results and only relatively minor improvements were made in attempting to hit the Rec. 709 standards. The CMS proved buggy, once more, when attempting to fine tune luminance with not only nasty artefacting being introduced but greyscale was thrown out too. Feeling suitably chastened, we readjusted the greyscale and tried again. Correcting the white balance had the added benefit of bringing the secondary colours pretty much bang on-hue so it was mainly a case of trying to get Green closer on-hue but the CMS wasn't powerful enough to totally correct matters. Still, there was a noticeable improvement and the very small luminance errors leant the picture a good amount of realism and only the trained eye would have any real problems in the colour reproduction of the RL853.
Previous generations of Toshiba's have proved fairly adept in this area of testing and the RL853B proves a worthy successor. Scaling of standard definition images, in particular, was excellent and every last drop of detail is extracted by the on-board video processing - without need for Resolution+ to be engaged. Of course, some SD is best seen without every last detail - due to huge over-compression - but you can't blame Toshiba for that.
The Regza RL853 did a good job of deinterlacing video based content, watching the FA Cup final showed no jaggedness in pan shots of the halfway line and confirmed the results of the Spears and Munsil jaggies test. The Regza RL853 made a halfway decent attempt at cadence detection, picking up the NTSC 2:3 cadence whilst failing to lock on to PAL 2:2. Owners that employ upscaling through AVR's or Blu-ray spinners will never be affected by the lack of 2:2 detection but the unnecessary deinterlacing may just jar with those that still watch a lot of SD film based material.
Blu-ray material at 24p was handled without any undue judder, as we've come to expect from just about every flat panel, these days. Over all, the Regza RL853s video processing left us mostly very pleased with no real causes for concern.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Since that question is by necessity rhetorical, we'll start with the not so good. Our biggest bugbear with the RL853 was in its handling of fast moving content. We gave the panel plenty of bedding in time but the blurriness of quickly moving objects only slightly improved over the course of the 100 hours, or so, of running in. Whilst watching the FA Cup Final may not have revealed any undue jaggedness to proceedings, there was certainly a noticeable loss of resolution to the image when the long ball was employed and this was true of both interlaced and progressively sent material. Whilst we're rarely fans of motion interpolation systems, the better ones can bring benefits to high speed video content and Toshiba have not included their MCFI solution in the RL series. Whilst it's Toshiba's entry-level LED/LCD, other manufacturers tend to include their interpolation engines in TVs at this kind of price-point and we'd, at least, liked to have the option.
Black levels and resultant contrast performance were good but certainly not spectacular. It would be fair to say this is not a TV we'd choose for low light film viewing but the matte screen, and whatever filter Toshiba are employing, did a very good job of rejecting ambient light and minimising reflections, so it's certainly one to consider for those that like to do it with the lights on. Off-axis viewing angles were a real high point for the RL853 with almost no loss of contrast - at anything like reasonable viewing angles - so it's a TV that would suit a family sitting down together to watch.
The thoroughly excellent calibrated greyscale performance ceratinly did plenty of favours to well mastered Blu-ray content and some of the excellent Disney discs looked an absolute treat. Again, the black levels aren't spectacular so more adult (and we don't mean that sort of 'Adult') film content didn't quite deliver so well although shadow detailing was good. Screen uniformity was well above average, when compared to some other edge-lit LCDs we've seen with no clouding, but there was visible bleed - in very dark content - from both bottom corners. Like the Panasonic TX-L37DT30 we recently tested, the visibility of the bleed changed with the angle it was viewed from - with right side bleed more prominent when viewed from the left and vice versa.
Whilst input lag in Game mode was very respectable - at less than 2 frames latency @60fps, i.e. under 32 milliseconds - the panel's tendency to blur fast moving objects can distract with some games. Obviously many games employ motion blur, as an effect, but if it weren't for our rather cultured Fifa 2011 playing style, the panel's response could have more seriously marred our enjoyment.
We've come to expect very good performance in this department from LED lit displays and the Regza RL853 proved no exception. In standby, we couldn't get any measure on power consumption whatsoever and the calibrated image averaged a very decent 87w.
- Excellent Viewing Angles
- Standard Def Scaling
- Greyscale Controls
- Nice Remote Control
- Low Input Lag for Gaming
- Blurry Fast Paced Motion Handling
- Mediocre Blacks in low-light Viewing
- CMS Controls
- No MCFI Options
Toshiba Regza RL853 (42RL853) LED LCD TV Review
The Toshiba Regza 42RL853B is a very watchable set in many respects, its generous viewing angles and convincing calibrated picture could make it a very good choice for the budget conscious purchaser who's looking for a basic, no frills TV. Fans of action movies and fast moving sports may have problems, though, as the RL853 isn't particularly adept at maintaining resolution when images begin to move quickly - we would like to have seen some motion interpolation options to at least see if they would have helped. Contrast and black levels hold up well in fairly bright conditions although it's certainly not a TV we'd recommend for people that like to watch in more optimal viewing circumstances that show the limitations of the panels abilities to achieve a deep level of black.
We were very happy with Toshiba's Menus and the remote control was also well designed. Calibration options were fairly extensive for an entry-level television, if a little patchy in their efficacy. The 10 point white balance controls worked a treat and we were able to pretty much flatline both greyscale and gamma. It's a shame the Colour Management System isn't so effective, indeed it can cause more problems than it solves but we have to try these things for you, even if we're aware of the difficulties that potentially lay ahead. Scaling of standard def material was very nice indeed with general picture processing of an almost equally high standard.
Panel uniformity was better than most edge-lit TVs we've seen and only proved any real distraction in dim viewing conditions, for which the RL853 isn't suited anyhow. Response to controller input for gaming was also above average, although the aforementioned image blurring might not please some. Energy consumption figures, again, were impressive but we've come to expect no less from LED lit LCDs.
We're happy to award the Toshiba Regza 42RL853 a Recommended Award given the prices it can be picked up for online but, as ever, those with particular demands and viewing habits are advised to go and see one themselves.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £799.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level6
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
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