Toshiba 32ul863b

The Toshiba Regza 32UL863B provides a picture performance that comfortably exceeded our expectations for a TV near the bottom of a manufacturer's range.

It's not perfect, of course, but a 32-inch TV is never going to offer a reference-grade image - and if it did it would cost a lot more than £450.

With no 3D to worry about, you can get straight down to plumbing in a Blu-ray player and enjoying its HD images. And, despite the breadth of the Toshiba Regza 32UL863B's calibration tools, you can enjoy them without having to spend too much time fiddling.

There are a number of preset modes, including Standard, Dynamic, Hollywood Day, Hollywood Night and PC.

Of these, we'd recommend either of the Hollywood options for lights-off movie-viewing. Here, you get subtle, natural colour gradations and a decent contrast, despite the backlighting system being toned down. You can get a brighter, punchier picture with the Dynamic mode, but this rips out the subtlety of the Toshiba Regza 32UL863B's colours.

In Avatar (still one of our go-to demo discs) the scene where Sully spends his first night alone on Pandora proved the Toshiba Regza 32UL863B's mettle. The mixture of bluish moonlight, lush green vegetation, orangey flames and the darkened corners of the forest came across exquisitely, with good shadow detailing.

The picture was sharp, too. Anyone who says that HD doesn't make any difference on a 32-inch TV is an idiot.

A slightly weak spot of the Toshiba Regza 32UL863B is its motion handling. A collection of test patterns revealed some unhealthy stuttering with 24p material (but mainly with vertical pans), and fast-moving images losing clarity.

Normally, these can be cured by calling upon frame-interpolation, but Toshiba's Active Vision M100 engine doesn't make a massive amount of difference. Its Smooth setting is preferable to the Standard setting, though, which seems to make matters worse.

However, while stumbling with our torture tests, in the real world the Toshiba Regza 32UL863B is perfectly acceptable - Sully's frantic attempts to fight off the nocturnal nasties of Pandora weren't blighted by noticeable smearing or judder.

Nor does the Toshiba Regza 32UL863B suffer from a distracting backlight, which can be the case with edge LED TVs. With very dark scenes we spotted a gentle greying out in the bottom corners, but only really when viewed slightly off-axis - with most material we didn't notice any at all.

Considering it's likely to get a lot of use, it's handy that the standard-definition performance of the Toshiba Regza 32UL863B is decent, too. The strong colour performance carries over, and pictures from the built-in Freeview tuner lose none of the visual punch and contrast. SD channels are noticeably softer, but unspoilt by compression artefacts.

The HD channels, meanwhile, are gloriously sharp, although we did run into a few occasions where they refused to work due to low signal strength, which suggests the tuner isn't as sensitive as it could be - or that our aerial has fallen over.

All this adds up to a commendable picture performance that we'd be happy to live with.