Toshiba 32XV505DB review

Nicely priced 1080p TV with solid workhorse credentials

Our Verdict

Available for a decent price, this is a nicely featured screen that falls just short of greatness

For

  • Good colours
  • Strong blacks
  • Impressive connectivity

Against

  • Poor motion handling Weedy audio
  • Some blending issues

Full HD televisions have gone from being a niche concern to mainstream must-haves in what seems like minutes.

Toshiba's new 1080p machine, the 32XV505DB, looks to iron out an arguable recent dip in its usually impeccable flatscreen form by matching uncompromising spec within killer styling.

Full HD television

The standout, knock 'em-bandy feature of this flatscreen is, of course, its full HD display. There has been a bit of a debate recently regarding the absolute, practical value of having so many pixels on a set of this size, but you can rest assured that there is going to be plenty of detail on display, regardless of whether or not your eyesight is good enough to discern it.

Other good news on the spec sheet is Toshiba's long-admired Active Vision processing 'engine', a mind-boggling (claimed dynamic) contrast ratio of 30,000:1 and no fewer than three HDMI inputs, as well as all the usual other gubbins such as SRS WOW audio, clever scaling and scanning electronics and Regza Link to bring all your (Toshiba) kit under one remote.

Oh, and someone has justified his or her presumably princely creatives' salary by rebranding the 'Off' switch as a 'Full Power Down Option'. No, really: check the website. Still, it's better than not being able to switch the thing off at all, particularly if you're looking to minimise your own contribution to the impending ecological meltdown, so good on Toshiba.

User-friendly

Toshiba is a standard-setter where user-friendliness is concerned and, broadly speaking, operating the 32XV505DB is a doddle.

The remote is the company's usual, logical model with every key where it ought to be and the installation procedure is a breeze, demanding just a few button presses to tune into broadcast TV.

The problems are of a graphical nature, with the interface from the digital tuner rubbing up uncomfortably against the set's native operating system.

The former is a blocky mess with an EPG that looks more like a densely packed spreadsheet than an at-a-glance guide to the evening's viewing.

Awkward menus

The text is difficult to read and, while the 'architecture' is fine, the overall experience isn't particularly pleasant.

So it's weird, then, to find yourself back in the pastel-blue-and-yellow serenity of Toshiba's own menu when you want to fiddle with the pictures or audio, and weirder still that you have to go through the teletext-style second interface (which greets you when you press Menu) to get there.

It's not disastrous, exactly, just a bit confusing; is it really so difficult to make the digital TV user interface look as if it belongs in the same decade, let alone the same TV, as the setup menu?

Natural colours

The picture, while by no means perfect, is impressively natural and cinematic, and perhaps the best thing about it is the colour palette.

With Freeview or hi-def discs, hues are consistently natural and convincing. It's punchy when required, but never garish or over-excitable, and the whole is built on a foundation of a black level response and greyscale performance that wouldn't look out of place on a plasma screen.

Detail, unsurprisingly, is prodigious, but never seems forced as it can on less subtle LCDs and the overall experience is as nuanced and enjoyable as we've seen from Toshiba for some time.

LCD Motion judder

The shortcomings include an occasionally crude way with colour and brightness gradation and that old LCD bogeyperson, motion judder.

The former is somewhat (and slightly ironically, given the black levels) reminiscent of plasma and is visible as banding, or steps between degrees of intensity. It is by no means a critical flaw, but it is a shame that such an otherwise exemplary naturalistic picture should at times be compromised in this way.

Actors' otherwise perfect-looking pallors are occasionally spoiled by a piece of rogue mottling as the set struggles to blend in the flushing of a cheek.

The movement issue, meanwhile, is just the age-old liquid crystal problem of the panel not being quite quick enough to keep up with onscreen action, with slow pans proving particularly problematic.

Underwhelming audio

The sound is clean and well organised, but there really isn't much muscle at your disposal, and there doesn't even seem to be much difference between 25 and 75 per cent on the volume slider.

Still, taking a peek around the back, you'll find not only optical digital and analogue stereo audio outputs for sending signals to an amplifier, but also a subwoofer phono to supply the sounds with the kind of low-end welly that this telly is so conspicuously short of.

Bargain TV

We might have a picked a couple of holes in the picture quality, but a 1080p set being offered for this kind of money must be regarded as a formidable bargain.

Having said that, there are better performing and more expensive rivals out there and dedicated videophiles may consider the extra cash well spent