Design & Connections
The supplied controller is chunkier than your average but we quite like it despite the extra ballast. Toshiba has provided a finger rest to the back of the remote to aid one-handed operation but it doesn’t really stop the feeling of it being a touch top heavy. The curves and trim are quite pleasing and the large buttons, which are very well positioned, make for efficient operations and the fact it’s too big to get wedged down the back of the average sofa is a plus.
Most of the connections to the rear of the Toshiba 46TL868 are outward facing and it’s good to see, what we consider, the requisite 4 HDMI ports equipped, three of which are rear connecting, with one close to the edge and facing sideways. Also outward facing are the antennae connections (both aerial and satellite); a VGA PC input; SPDIF optical audio out; a LAN connection and legacy SCART and Component connections together with L&R audio jacks. Along with the side-facing HDMI connection are two USB ports – the bottom of which can be used with an optional Wi-Fi dongle – and a CAM slot plus there’s also some very basic button controls – Power/Source/Up and Down.
As with the TL963, the Colour Master system actually functioned quite well and the fact that the saturation control heavily interacted with colour luminance proved a plus point. We’d normally bemoan controls that don’t do what they’re supposed to but the disparity in the luminance errors between green and red – one was far too dim, the other the reverse – was such that there wasn’t enough latitude in the luminance control to bring them in to line. In fact, colour performance overall was far better following calibration with only a slightly over-saturated and off hue blue of any concern.
The Toshiba TL963 did a decent job with standard definition content, cleanly scaling a 576 signal, with no obvious signs of softening or haloing artefacts. The 963 isn’t the best video deinterlacer we’ve seen, however, with jaggies appearing in the mid portions of our test patterns. Like the TL963, the VL963B was also unable to detect a 2:2 film cadence so there is some unnecessary deinterlacing introduced and with it some resolution loss. We’ve criticised some recent Toshiba TVs for their lack of proper 1080p24 support, which meant they weren’t displaying the majority of Blu-ray discs at their optimum but the VL963 made a better fist of things, which came as something of a surprise. Whilst we could see the odd skipped frame and a touch of undue judder, from time to time, most of the time things ticked over quite well. We’ve seen some speculation that the Toshiba’s are internally converting the 24 framed signal to fit a 60Hz refresh by adding frames in but we measured the VL963 with the Klein K-10 that showed it was refreshing at multiples of 24 most of the time. There’s definite room for improvement here but the signs are quite encouraging.
Contrast and Black Level
With the Toshiba VL963 being fitted with an IPS panel we weren’t expecting stellar performance here as the reproduction of black has never been a strong point of the technology involved. With an averaged black level of 0.11cd/m2 against a calibrated peak white of just over 120 cd/m2, the VL963 just managed to edge over the figure of 1,000:1 ANSI contrast, pulling it just in to respectable levels. Panel uniformity was actually very good for an edge-lit LED so at least the average blacks weren’t spoiled by light leakage. Off-axis, the contrast performance takes something of a hit but the numbers could be improved to somewhere in the 0.06 to 0.08cd/m2 range by using the Active Backlight setting but we prefer to give you the native panel capabilities and, besides, using it dimmed the whole picture not just the blacks.
Anyone even remotely concerned with enjoying responsive gaming on the VL963 seriously needs to engage the Game Picture Mode else be faced with lag of around 125 milliseconds. The Game mode obviously does the trick in cutting down on any unnecessary processing by reducing input latency to between 48 and 49 milliseconds, which isn’t too bad but laggier than some we’ve tested. Panel response isn’t particularly impressive and we did notice some ghosting from time to time but it’s likely most won’t find it an issue. 3D gaming is quite laggy, however, and we took measurements around the 123 milliseconds mark in that mode.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out of the Box – Standard Mode: 72.7W
Calibrated – Hollywood 1 Mode: 72.2W
3D Mode: 72.5W
Picture Quality - 2D
It’s when the lights come down that the flaws of edge-lit technology generally come to the fore but the VL963 didn’t exhibit much in the way of uniformity issues. There was some corner bleed, at all four points, but it was rarely noticeable and only really reared its head with film shot content with black bars. Thankfully there was a noticeable absence of the oh-so-common panel banding we almost expect to see with LED TVs so we can credit the engineers for masking the structure behind the ‘glass’ so well in a TV so slim. That’s not to say there wasn’t any but it was infrequent enough to be deemed non-intrusive. The ‘black line’ screen tearing fault we’d noted on both the TL863 and TL963 when viewing HDMI sources, didn’t occur during our testing but as it’s a random, non-repeatable phenomena we can’t absolutely guarantee its eradication from the processing.
If all the above reads like a mixed bag, that would be a fair assessment but, overall, the good did outweigh the bad and our time with the VL963 was generally one free of deal-breaking annoyances.
Picture Quality - 3D
- Excellent and convincing colours - post calibration
- Very generous viewing angles
- Decent motion handling
- Flicker free 3D
- Good SD scaling
- Lovely styling
- Relatively good uniformity
- Blu-ray 1080p could still be handled better
- Video deinterlacing is weak
- Mediocre blacks and dynamic range
- Limited white balance controls
- Poor accuracy in default Hollywood picture mode
Toshiba VL963 (42VL963) 3D LED LCD TV Review
We were very happy with the styling of the Toshiba VL963B, its almost all black approach and micro bezel reveals a discreet simplicity that makes it both unobtrusive and chic at the same time. The same couldn't be said of the Fat Controller however although, again, we quite like the remote and we're pleased to see the move away from the daft, Jacob Jensen coffee table adornment we saw in last year's VL range. Connections wise, we hope Samsung and Panasonic are looking in as Toshiba have managed to fit 4 HDMI ports in to what is, to all intents and purposes, a fairly inexpensive TV. General menu presentation is good although the lack of calibration controls may be an obstacle down the line.
The fact that we actually managed to achieve excellent calibration results was more by hook and crook than going by the book but getting there is all that really matters. With the VL963B being equipped with an LG IPS panel we were hardly expecting it to set the world alight with its contrast performance and its rather average in that department but the solid panel uniformity and effective ambient light rejection means it fares well in brighter conditions although the glossy screen is very reflective. The VL963 has quite patchy video processing with good standard definition scaling, poor video deinterlacing and cadence detection and just about passable handling of 1080p24 content.
Perhaps the VL963 strongest suit comes in the way in which it effortlessly handles 3D. With a bright yet convincing colour palette and an almost crosstalk, and totally flicker free presentation it's difficult not to get drawn in but, of course, the immersion factor would be lifted dramatically with the 55 inch version. Gamers would probably find the Toshiba an adequate rather than game winning display with a measured latency of around 48 milliseconds between controller input to on-screen reaction.
Those looking for a chic, modern TV and like a spot of 3D action will find the Toshiba VL963 a tempting proposition. The 963 will fit the bill even more if they view their 2D action with the lights up where the lack of contrast punch will be hardly noticeable. There's room for improvement with the video processing and the feature set isn't exactly wowing us but, for the value on offer, we're happy to recommend a demo.
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Our Review Ethos
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