Toshiba 32hl833b

The 32HL833B's speakers are useful only for watching news and chat shows, with only a whiff of bass amid a treble-heavy soundscape. Stable Sound is designed to dampen volume in annoying advert breaks, but it's to the detriment of the audio and is therefore of questionable value.

Value

We're not completely convinced that Toshiba has made the right decision on features for the 32HL833B; we're pretty sure most punters would prefer a Freeview HD tuner, even if it meant losing that full HD resolution.

We won't argue with the penchant for edge LED backlighting at this price, though, as it helps create a reasonably cinematic picture for such a cheap telly.

Ease of use

Freeview tunes in quickly and is easy to use. It's a different story with the seven-day programme guide, which - like on Toshiba's 2010 crop of TVs - has a peculiar design.

Visually, it's a fairly neutral mix of grey, blue, black and white graphics that float over a live TV channel. So far so good, but instead of showing what's currently on, it displays the next nine programmes showing on whatever channel the cursor rests on, which is great for an in-depth rundown on whatever is on for the rest of the day on that particular station, but means that you can't see what's up next across multiple channels.

Worse is to come, since moving the cursor down a channel instructs the TV to re-tune to that channel, making it impossible to see what's on another channel without physically paying it a visit. Baffling.

Elsewhere, the TV's main GUI is much better. It's themed in black and 3D-like blue bars with white lettering and looks reasonably stylish, though the clean design and easy-to-read wording is interrupted occasionally by instructional buttons in a garish, old fashioned serif font that looks hideous.

A nicely laid out - but annoyingly unresponsive and incredibly lightweight - remote control is the major weak point of the user interface. For starters, it's outdated, with commands and buttons that are not needed. For instance, why is there a large ATV/DTV button for toggling between the digital and analogue TV tuners, when the latter has all but been switched off across the UK? Surely a shortcut to HDMI 1 or the USB stick would be more useful?

There is a tiny 'quick' button in the centre of the remote, but aside from adjusting the picture mode it contains nothing of any daily use. Featherlight and flimsy, no thought has been given to its balance of weight and so it sits awkwardly in the hand.

Insert a USB stick into the side of the 32HL833B, choose Photos from the onscreen GUI, and a pleasant 4x3 grid of thumbnails appear - although only JPEG files are read.

Switch to Music and a drop-down menu of available MP3 files is presented. Select one and a 1980s-style graphic equaliser is displayed fullscreen. Nice idea, but it's so blocky (literally about 50 blue blocks) and slow-moving that it appears to have no relation to the sound coming out of its tiny speakers.

Volume duration, filename and full in-movie controls are all displayed along the bottom of an impressive GUI for music, but we really wouldn't recommend playing anything apart from dialogue-based podcasts on the 32HL833B, unless you've a decent audio system hooked-up.

Go back a step and hit Video and the 32HL833B delivers a surprise. Although it's not supposed to play video files, it actually recognised a whole bunch of them on our USB stick-cum-multimedia treasure chest - and proceeded to play MKV (DivX HD), AVI (DivX), AVCHD, MPEG and MP4. We managed to watch DivX HD and MP4 trailers of 2012 and Shutter Island without any problems.

Picture calibration is impressive for a budget TV. It's fitted with the usual Dynamic/Standard/Movie/Games/Mild presets, and your own preferences can be stored, too.

There's no 100Hz, Active Vision, or the Resolution+ (upscaling technology that Toshiba has so successfully employed in the past) settings to tweak, but it's possible to tinker with the backlight, colour temperature (warm, medium or cool) and static gamma level as well as the usual colour, brightness, contrast and sharpness. Switch-on Colour Management and it produces a Base Colour Adjustment menu comprising hue, saturation and brightness tweaks across the whole spectrum.

Audio controls are pretty basic, with only three 'features' as such; stable sound and surround sound can be toggled on or off, while bass boost uses a sliding scale. All have an uphill struggle to make any kind of impression with the 32HL833's weedy speakers.