Last year the 26AV505DB won a 26in group test, but with some strong and very affordable new contenders, can it still hold its own?
It certainly doesn't stand out aesthetically and feels rather plasticky without any distinct lines. It falls short of the Sony KDL-26V4000, with its connections, too, only managing two HDMIs and not providing a D-Sub PC port. You can get PC signals in via the HDMIs, but this merely reinforces our wish for more than two.
Rather better news is a claimed contrast ratio of 30,000:1, achieved with the help of a dynamic system. And the HD Ready resolution gives no grounds for complaint, either.
No Active Vision
However, as we delve a little deeper a potentially worrying problem rears its ugly head: a severe lack of serious video processing. There's no 100Hz; not even Toshiba's proprietary Active Vision LCD system that's sneaked, in one form or another, onto almost every other Toshiba LCD we've seen in the past, even the pretty cheap ones.
There are, at least, one or two useful tweaks among the TV's onscreen menus, including MPEG and 'normal' video noise reduction, a contrast booster, and most useful of all, a reasonably flexible Colour Management tool.
As it turns out, the lack of image processing isn't that much of a problem. The set's handling of motion, for instance, while not perfect, is definitely not as blurred as we typically see with non-100Hz TVs, and even out-performs the more expensive Sony.
Its rescaling of full HD and standard-def sources to its native 1,366 x 768 resolution also works nicely, especially with HD, which looks pin-sharp and full of detail. SD pictures don't look quite as satisfying as with the Bravia Engine-driven Sony, but the gulf isn't very wide.
The same situation applies with the set's black level response. For while it does suffer slightly more greying over of dark scenes than the Sony, the Toshiba easily outguns its similarly priced Hannspree HT09-28E1 and Goodmans LD2667D rivals. Even its colours hold up well, looking pretty vibrant for a sub-£300 TV, and only very occasionally suffering with unnatural tones.
Overall, the 26AV505DB's pictures neither do anything truly spectacular, nor do they do anything particularly bad.
The set's sound is more in line with budget expectations, lacking bass, dynamic range and raw power. But while it may not love a film soundtrack, it does at least sound perfectly decent with the sort of daytime broadcasting that may well make up a 26in TV's main diet.