In the wake of the highly impressive Toshiba 46YL853 and more than decent Toshiba 40RL858, we had high hopes for the Toshiba 40RL953.
We expected to find an attractive, affordable 40-inch TV with decent performance and broad multimedia capability, but the Toshiba 40RL953 proved instead that sometimes in life you don't get what you wish for.
Some aspects of the screen are certainly as good as, if not better than, other 40-inch TVs. It's a peach to look at, has excellent USB file compatibility, is a cinch to use and delivers solid, enjoyable Blu-ray and Sky pictures once you've played around with the versatile image adjustment tools.
The HDMI problem of intermittent black lines across the screen (which we put down to a faulty sample) and occasional image jerkiness are letdowns. The Freeview tuner's pictures are a tad soft, with waxy-looking skin, while shadow detail and motion resolution are both poor. The remote control is porcine ugly and unenjoyable to handle.
The Toshiba 40RL953 is a mixed bag. It's tasty looking and is capable of delivering fairly decent images, but is inconsistent and too fussy about which sources it needs to do so.
Likewise, there are some good things to say about its connected TV portal, but lack of content options means Toshiba Places is not the ultimate of smart TV places.
The Toshiba 40RL858 is a fairly similar proposition to the Toshiba 40RL953, only it's currently a little more affordable. We found its performance more consistent with our expectations of the mid-value market.
The attractive LG 42LV450U is also cheaper than the Toshiba 40RL953 and has good quality images, but suffers from the lack of a Freeview HD tuner and absence of smart TV features.