Ratings in depth

Design 3/5
Features 4/5
Performance 3.5/5
Usability 3.5/5
Value 4/5

While I sometimes find myself yearning for the uncompromising Toshiba of old – and which I have a feeling still exists somewhere in the deepest recesses of the brand's native Japan – there's no denying that the brand has reinvented itself in the UK pretty successfully as a budget force to be reckoned with.

Its prices often now verge on the territory usually occupied by specialist budget types like Bush and Finlux, while giving you the reassurance of buying from a respected, long-established brand.

The 40L3453DB fits perfectly into this new Toshiba ethos. It's a 40-inch TV that costs just £400 but delivers more in feature and performance terms than you would expect to find from its cheap and cheerful peers.

Not that it makes a particularly fantastic first impression. It uses a bland, plasticky black finish for its bezel, makes that bezel wider than usual, and lumps the screen unceremoniously atop one of the ugliest, cheapest-looking desktop stands I've seen for yonks.

The best that can be said of the 40L3453DB's flimsy construction is that it ships with the screen already fixed to the desktop stand, meaning you don't have to bother putting the two together yourself.

Easier on the eye are the 40L3453DB's connections. Three HDMIs dominate, replacing the two we might normally expect to find at the £400 price level, and multimedia features are provided via USB, LAN and integrated Wi-fi options.

Toshiba 40L3453DB
Three HDMI ports is an unusual addition to a budget TV

The USB and network options can handle respectively direct playback/streaming via DLNA of multimedia files of pretty much any video, photo and music flavour, with the network options also enabling access to Toshiba's online content servers.

Dubbed Cloud TV, the Toshiba online smart TV system is OK so far as it goes, with a fairly simple one-screen hub carrying links to apps that include Netflix, YouTube, BBC News and, of course, the BBC iPlayer. (Actually, maybe we shouldn't say 'of course' any more, given that at the time of writing the iPlayer is not available on either Samsung or Sharp's latest TVs!)

Toshiba 40L3453DB
Some streaming services, such as Amazon Instant, are currently missing from Cloud TV

Cloud TV does not, though, support the ITV Player, Demand 5 and 4OD, and Amazon's replacement for LoveFilm, Amazon Instant, is also nowhere to be seen at the time of writing. There's also a dearth of secondary app types – games, information etc.

In fact, there are only around 20 apps on Cloud TV in total, and an unhealthy number of those are about as interesting to UK audiences as the European Parliament's proclamations on banana curvature.

But you know what? Maybe I'm being a bit churlish here. After all, Toshiba might be within its rights to politely suggested to me that having any access to online content at all is pretty generous on such a cheap 40-inch TV. So aside from pointing out that the 40L3453DB's Cloud TV system is a stripped down version of the one found on higher-level Toshiba TVs, I'll zip it and move on to something less conflicting: the screen's on-paper specifications.

Toshiba really puts the pressure on its cheapo rivals in this department, combining a native full HD screen with a pseudo 200Hz effect designed to boost image stability and motion fluidity. Also a relief to find at this level of the market is the 40L3453DB's Freeview HD tuner, while a claimed contrast ratio of 25000:1 – delivered via a dynamic contrast system – blows the contrast figures of your average budget TV out of the water.

There aren't as many picture calibration features to get your teeth into as we often see with Toshiba TVs, though. The only things of even vague interested uncovered by a whizz through the onscreen menus are noise reduction routines, various settings for the dynamic contrast engine and RGB gain adjustments of any interest. But again, it's probably a bit miserable of me to expect anything more for the 40L3453DB's money.

There's a decent chance that a 40-inch TV as cheap as the 40L3453DB will be required to do at least some gaming duties. So if that's your intention, you'll be reassured to hear that I measured its input lag at 33ms – a low enough figure to have minimal impact on your gaming prowess. Or lack thereof.