Toshiba appears to have really done its homework with the Toshiba 46TL963, since it seems to tick almost all the current most popular TV boxes. First, its design is super-slim.

Second, its connections include plenty of multimedia support. Third, it carries online Smart TV features. Fourth, it costs remarkably little for a 46-inch TV.

We might also have added its 3D playback to this list, were it not for all the recent reports suggesting that most people don't actually care about 3D.

Fortunately the Toshiba 46TL963 isn't just about features, though. It also performs surprisingly well, with bright, colourful, sharp pictures in both 2D and 3D mode.

Its backlight has a few consistency issues that can distract you a bit during dark scenes, and its multimedia skills ultimately prove less wide-ranging than they should be. But the Toshiba 46TL963 still does more than enough overall to stand out as a serious bargain.

We liked

At about £699.99 (around AU$1,097/US$1,121) for a 46-inch TV, the Toshiba 46TL963 is brilliant value. It looks great too, with its ultra-slim, light-coloured bezel, and its feature count is unexpectedly high for such a cheap TV.

Best of all, though, it's a much more accomplished picture performer than any other similarly affordable television set we can think of.

We disliked

Toshiba Places needs lots more apps and services, and the Toshiba 46TL963's DLNA capabilities aren't great unless you have a Windows 7 PC.

There's some backlight inconsistency during dark scenes too, plus a little crosstalk with 3D and a rather noisy look to standard definition feeds. Finally, the remote control is poorly designed.

Final verdict

Although it's not without its issues, there's no doubt that Toshiba has delivered another cracking affordable TV in the Toshiba 46TL963.

Its slim design is as space-saving as it is attractive, and the fact that it offers both multimedia streaming/direct USB playback and online features is impressive for its price tag, even if both of these systems are limited in scope.

Where it really stands out from the similarly affordable 46-inch TV crowd, though, is with its picture quality. Yes, a few backlight consistency issues and some minor 3D crosstalk might deter enthusiasts. But then a 46-inch TV this cheap was never going to deliver perfection.

The best you could probably hope for at that price would be punchy colours, impressive sharpness, solid motion reproduction and good contrast. And with the Toshiba 46TL963, that's exactly what you get.

Also consider

There's not much serious direct competition for the Toshiba 46TL963, given how cheap it is.

If you can find an extra £300 (around AU$470/US$480), one alternative would be LG's 47LM670T. This offers an even prettier design, along with a much more evolved online service and pictures that at times are even better than those of the Toshiba.

As well as being substantially more expensive, though, LG's television does also suffer with a little backlight blocking during dark scenes.

A solid plasma TV option for around the same money would be Panasonic's TX-P42UT50. Note, though, that as its name suggests, this set is 42-inches in size, not 46. And while its pictures are excellent if you're in a darkened room, they can lack punch and colour accuracy in a bright room.

One final alternative might be Samsung's UE46E5500, though we haven't tested any TVs from this range yet. See, we told you it was hard to find anything to truly rival the Toshiba 46TL963.