What is the Toshiba 32RL958?
Design & Connections
The supplied remote control might not look much but it was a joy to use being light in the hand and with well placed, slightly concave, soft rubberised buttons that have just about the right amount of give whilst being of ideal size. It’s an ironic contrast to the designer-fuelled madness of the drop flapped monstrosity that ships with some of the higher end sets and its compactness leaves you wondering why some remotes have to be so large.
The Picture Menu houses the standard Picture Mode, Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint and Sharpness sliders. The available Picture Modes are Dynamic, Standard, Game, Autoview and Toshiba’s attempt at providing accurate out-of-the-box settings with the Hollywood modes. In addition to the standard controls we have the Advanced Picture Settings that contain the ‘ColourMaster’ Colour Management System(CMS) which we’ve had our fair share of well documented problems with in the past. Further controls for the Auto Brightness Sensor, which alters luminance based on ambient lighting; Active Backlight Control; Black/White Level; Noise Reduction; Resolution+ and Cinema Mode are also found in this area and we’ll cover some of those later in the review but we found no use for either the Noise Reduction nor Auto Brightness Sensor controls. The Expert Picture Settings Menu houses a catch-all test pattern and a RGB Filter allowing for a quick colour and tint calibration using just a test disc and blue filter. We can also choose between BT.601 and BT.709 colour decoding or choose to have the TV auto detect.
A new addition appears under the TV Programmes menu, as well as the standard EPG there’s a new MediGuide EPG powered by Rovi. The guide takes a few seconds to load but the interface is worth the wait and is able to give far more detail than the standard EPG. It’s also possible to arrange programming by genre by Children, Films, Sports and News options. To enable MediaGuide, users must enter the Preferences Menu and access the TV Guide Selection item.
Despite the presence of the Cinema Mode in the Picture Menu, the RL958B was unable to pick up on the PALcentric 2:2 film cadence, so you’ll be best using ‘upscaling’ players and set-to-boxes to perform the task for standard definition film content sent through an interlaced signal. For those with collections of NTSC DVD’s, the news is better as the Toshiba was able to detect the 2:3 cadence. Scaling performance was good, however, so other forms of SD looked good and especially so on a 32-inch screen. We’ve seen a few Toshiba’s struggle with 1080p24 material – probably those that have some Vestel engineering in them – and the RL958B showed some of the same weaknesses with a certain ‘flutteryness’ displayed on the unforgiving Spears and Munsil evaluation disc wedge pattern. With real world Blu-rays it was hard to spot, in all truth, but we’ve seen and expect better handling of the medium. Video deinterlacing was also a touch sub-par, with some break-up of detail evident under movement and some quite unusual artefacting displayed on a couple of ‘jaggies’ tests involving rotating bars. Again, when watching actual content it’s not hugely obvious but it’s another area of video processing where Toshiba should be looking to improve. On a more positive note, the RL958 was able to ‘retrieve’ the full chromatic information from a 1080p24 source where the WL968 would not.
Contrast and Black Level
The RL958B proved itself quite the little performer for gamers. With a latency of just 26 milliseconds between controller input and on-screen reaction, we’d class it as unnoticeable and one of the absolute most reactive gaming screens we’ve tested. Default gamma response isn’t great but can be improved by setting Black/White Level to Low in the Advanced Picture Menu and in the same area switching Colour Temperature to Warm should also help the picture quality. Since you’re already there, a few clicks back on the Colour control should get the display closer to a sRGB and Rec.709 colour gamut.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 46.3W
Calibrated – Hollywood Day Mode: 39.1W
Toshiba 32RL958 Picture Quality
We really didn’t like the ActiveScan interpolating engine of the WL968B so its omission here wasn’t troubling in the slightest. In fact, panel response was quite good so there was very little in the way of perceptible ghosting we could see – the relatively small panel sizes probably contributes – but motion resolution is what we’d expect from a LCD panel, i.e. quite average so, if you look closely, you will spot some blurring of objects. Again, due to the 32-inch screen, it wasn’t something we find too troubling. Another plus, or should that be a non-negative, was the impressive screen uniformity (particularly with Active Backlight enabled), although we could occasionally see some of the panel array behind bright colours. We managed to watch a good mix of standard and high definition content during our time with the RL958 and it rarely disappointed. The currently aired, Africa with David Attenborough, was served justice by the 958’s ability to do both well-lit and night scenes very well and we felt only minor cravings for the 55-inch in the other room during its viewing.
We’ll admit we never quite know what to expect from a Toshiba TV but this one had us impressed although viewing angles aren’t the best so a corner position might be best if placed in a living room as there’s no ‘swivelability’ to the stand.
- Good black levels and contrast
- Accurate colours
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Extremely responsive for gamers
- Decent motion handling
- Viewing angles could be better
- A decent gamma control has been removed
- App issues
- Unhelpful interface when setting up Wi-Fi connection
Toshiba 32RL958 TV Review
The Toshiba RL958B is a bit of a plain Jane in today’s designer-lead market but we rather like an unobtrusive display and we’re even happier about the fact Toshiba has dropped last years’ metal-effect from the RL Series. The remote is similarly unspectacular but does its job very well from within its compact and lightweight form factor although it does have a tendency to get M.I.A down the sides of the armchair. Toshiba’s menus are very responsive but perhaps over expansive, we’d recommend they trim the number of main sub-menus down to 3 from the current 5 to aid user-friendliness.
Toshiba’s Smart TV feature-set isn’t the most expansive but they have added a few new ones recently, including Skype, WiFi Direct and a new browser. They’ve also improved the file support in the media player to make it a very capable one. Toshiba’s new Freetalk Conference videocam/mic works well in good light conditions but the browser is a chore to use without the smartphone/tablet app which we couldn’t get to work with our Android device. We’d had no such issues with other Toshiba kit recently so we’re puzzled as to why we couldn’t get it to work with either the RL958 or WL968. We experienced similar frustration with the WiDi feature.
We managed to extract an excellent calibration from the 32RL958B, despite the lack of a proper gamma control and the impressively accurate colours were given due support by a good dynamic range that featured convincing black levels, especially with the dimming control engaged. We’ve seen better handling of various video processing duties, however, and we’d ask Toshiba to look in to new ways of handling cadence detection and video deinterlacing. There’s also room for improvement on the sometimes ‘shimmering’ presentation of 1080p24 although that rarely showed up when watching content on Blu-ray disc. Gamers are very well catered for by the Toshiba 32RL958B, with it returning one of the lowest figures for input latency so far – an ‘unnoticeable’ 26 milliseconds – and with a bit of fine tuning the Game mode can be made to look good with plenty of shadow detail to aid those online 1V1’s.
All in all, the Toshiba RL958 is a very pleasing little TV that combines a bright, detailed and punchy image with a nice bunch of features. At a current online ticket price of under £300 it certainly merits some attention. Recommended.
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Our Review Ethos
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