Toshiba 46yl863 review

The Toshiba 46YL863's first big feature hits you as soon as you've lifted it from its box - its beautiful looks. The TV enjoys a superbly heavy duty, brushed aluminium finish and looks distinctive and gorgeously sleek with its ultra-slim silver bezel and emphatically thin rear.

Its aluminium stand is unusually sturdy and pretty too, if you're not thinking of hanging the television from a wall.

The Toshiba 46YL863's gorgeous looks are no accident, of course. Toshiba has employed the services of the world-renowned Jacob Jensen Design, whose past clients include Bang & Olufsen, and the resulting combination of industrial and ergonomic design is a triumph.

Despite its slenderness, the Toshiba 46YL863 packs a full suite of connections, including four v1.4 HDMIs, two USBs for playback of video, music and photo multimedia files, and an Ethernet port for streaming files from DLNA PCs or taking you online with Toshiba's Places smart TV platform.

Fittingly for a flagship TV, the Toshiba 46YL863 also includes integrated Wi-Fi, thereby removing one of the most common hurdles to households actually using their new TV's fancy online features.

Toshiba 46yl863 review

Setting your Toshiba 46YL863 up is as easy or as sophisticated as you want it to be. On a shallow level, there's a decent selection of presets (though none that can't be improved at least a little by some manual tinkering). For more confident/demanding users, the TV set sports gamma correction and a pretty good colour management system, among other things.

Plus, of course, there's the swanky auto-calibration system made possible by the TV's Cevo Engine processing power.

However, the auto-calibration kit isn't included free in the box. Instead, the TPA-1 kit is an optional extra, costing a rather hefty £250 - a price that buys you a meter for measuring light and colour from the screen. This hooks into one of the TV's USB ports, so that the TV can be fed the information it needs to automatically calibrate its own colour, gamma and other settings.

The auto-calibration system is actually quite easy to use, but unfortunately the post-calibration images it produces probably won't be to many people's tastes.

They look a little flat and muted for most 'mainstream' sensibilities, and more surprisingly they don't look entirely natural, with some colours - especially reds - appearing a touch stronger than they should.

Cevo plays an important part in enhancing numerous aspects of the Toshiba 46YL863's picture quality.

Toshiba 46yl863 review

Particularly intriguing - as we'll detail in the Picture quality section of this review - are its tools for sharpening 3D pictures and cleaning up video streamed from the internet. Boosting signals as data-intensive as HD 3D or as ropey as some heavily compressed internet video streams requires more processing power than most TVs can give you.

The Toshiba 46YL863's 3D capabilities are of the active, Full HD flavour, with a single pair of 3D glasses included for free. It's a shame Toshiba couldn't run to adding at least two pairs, but then the TV is pretty decent value, so maybe finding another £50-£80 for each extra pair of glasses you need isn't too heinous.

The Places online service is a classic game of two halves. In the plus column, its interface is unusually attractive and logical, with strong use of graphics and a very approachable and logical way of ordering apps and services into 'social', 'video', and 'music' zones.

Also appreciated, given that TVs are used by your whole family, is the facility to set up personal settings for different users, with each preference suite able to save favourite services and different picture settings.

The TV even features a built-in camera with face-recognition software, so that it can automatically tell who's using the TV and select the correct user settings accordingly. Very clever.

Rather less clever, though, is the quality of the camera, which is so poor that it really struggles to recognise faces correctly if you've got any backlight or low light conditions in your room.

Also letting Places down is its lack of content. The situation was recently improved by the addition of the Acetrax movie rental/purchase platform and Facebook. But other useful services are restricted to the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Aupeo, Viewster, Flickr, Daily Motion, Funspot and a trio of subscription only services: Box Office 365, the Cartoon Network, and HiT Entertainment.

With most rival brands massively improving their online offerings for 2012, we can only hope that Toshiba has similar improvements up its sleeve.

A few final tricks worth a quick name check are a very impressive claimed 7,000,000:1 contrast ratio from the locally dimming Edge LED backlighting, and the inclusion of a subwoofer among its speakers. This will hopefully stop the Toshiba 46YL863 from suffering from the inconsequential audio usually found on very slim TVs.