Toshiba 46tl868b review

3D picture

So far the Toshiba 46TL868B has done nothing but over-achieve for its price point. And happily this trend largely continues with its picture performance.

Starting with 3D (having secured a pair of Toshiba's impressively light and rechargeable new active shutter 3D glasses, sold as extras), the Toshiba 46TL868B hits the right note immediately, by delivering an impressive amount of brightness and colour richness with its 3D images.

Sure, wearing the active 3D glasses does lead to a drop off in brightness, but it's nothing like as extreme as it tends to be with some active shutter 3D TVs - especially the more affordable ones.

The decent brightness helps 3D colours look likably natural, as well as bringing out a reasonable amount of tonal subtlety in dark parts of 3D images.

The Full HD nature of the Toshiba 46TL868B's active 3D images is clearly apparent, too, in the strikingly high detail you can see when watching Full HD 3D Blu-rays. Even when there's a lot of motion in the frame, the Toshiba 46TL868B manages to keep things looking crisp and textured - something that cheap TVs usually struggle to do even in 2D mode, never mind 3D.

Also contributing to the clarity of the Toshiba 46TL868B's 3D images is the fact that they're surprisingly little affected by crosstalk noise. The ghosting problem certainly doesn't appear routinely like it can on so many active 3D TVs - even some that cost considerably more than this one. It's still visible around bright or colour-rich objects during quite deep shots, but for the most part it's only a minor and occasional irritation rather than the really destructive force we might have expected.

In fact, it's the 3D image's clarity that sticks in the mind much more than any crosstalk issues.

2D picture

Toshiba 46tl868b review

Although mostly much better than they've any right to be for under £700, the Toshiba 46TL868B's 3D pictures do suffer with a bit of a problem during very dark scenes. During these you can sometimes see clear evidence of backlight inconsistency in the TV's top left and right corners. What's more, the fact that the areas of extra brightness are essentially a 2D artefact lying across the surface of a 3D image tends to make them look more obvious.

It's no surprise whatsoever to find backlight consistency issues also playing a part in the Toshiba 46TL868B's 2D performance. However, thankfully the problem is much easier to control with 2D than 3D, because there's no need to feed the picture with as much brightness once you don't have to contend with the dimming effect of the 3D glasses.

Take the backlight down to a sensible level - certainly below 70 and ideally between 55 and 60 if your room isn't very bright - and the backlight consistency issues become so minor that you'll only even be vaguely aware of them during a tiny fraction of your overall viewing time.

Dark scenes in 2D mode reveal the Toshiba 46TL868B to have a rather good black level response by the standards of similarly affordable TVs too. Admittedly the backlight, brightness and contrast settings you will probably end up with in your quest for the best black level performance will leave dark scenes sometimes looking a bit short of shadow detail. But this is a relatively small contrast problem by the standards of the affordable TV market at large.

The sharpness and detail evident with HD 2D pictures, meanwhile, handsomely picks up the baton from the clarity noted with HD 3D images, and again goes comfortably beyond the level you might expect at the Toshiba 46TL868B's price point.

Toshiba 46tl868b review

The motion clarity noted in 3D mode is even more striking in 2D too. Indeed, it's arguably in this performance aspect more than any other that the Toshiba 46TL868B most rises above its price point.

That said, the set also humbles the vast majority of other affordable TVs with its colours. Their vibrancy and range is even more obvious in 2D mode than in 3D, avoiding both the washed out and off-key looks that are quite common at the more affordable end of the TV market.

In fact, there are a few considerably more expensive TVs we can think of that can't match the Toshiba 46TL868B's colour vibrancy.

Standard definition

While HD TV pictures look startlingly good, aside from the occasional minor backlight flaw, though, the Toshiba 46TL868B does reveal its relative affordability a little more with standard definition sources - or weak quality ones, at least. With these, the set tends to exaggerate whatever noise (MPEG or otherwise) they might contain to a sometimes quite distracting degree.

To be fair, the set does carry noise reduction circuitry, but this tends to leave pictures looking a little soft and laggy.