Toshiba's latest 17in LCD TV is one pretty-looking machine, coupling snazzy lines with a pleasingly functional feel. The 17WL46B is finished in smooth silver, while the icing on the cake is provided by an electric blue LED on the bottom right of the screen. The remote control is just as good-looking - slim, silver, smooth and boasting well-laid out and easy to use buttons.
Connections on LCD screens sometimes feel as if they've been positioned more with aesthetics than usefulness in mind, and sure enough the Toshiba's sockets are hidden away behind and under the screen. If you want to plug anything in you're either going to have to turn either the unit or yourself upside down! This is partially made up for by the connections on offer.
These include two Scarts for hooking the unit up to the source of your choosing, an S-video connection and a set of analogue audio ins and outs. Poke around a bit further and you'll find a PC connection, as well as places to stick your antenna and headphones.
We thought the connections were difficult to get to, but that's nothing compared to how awkward this television is to set up and tune in. Open up the instruction manual and you'll be confronted with page after page of enough setup information to send even the most ardent home cinema nut-case running for the hills - helpfully laid out in the form of a series of lists.
Things don't get any more intuitive when it comes to the plain, textbased onscreen menus, which seem to have been deliberately designed to discourage those who would dare try and get ITV1 or mess with the factory settings. Once you've managed to tune channels in via the Install menu, features consist of various picture and sound tweaks including a graphic equaliser, 16:9, 4:3, Zoom, Panorama modes and a picture noise reduction function.
With its proliferation of dark scenes, one DVD that provides a stringent test for any piece of home cinema kit is David Fincher's horror/thriller hybrid Se7en - and so it proved with the 17WL46B. Skipping to the horrendously difficult-to-present opening murder scene, we were pleased to find that the Tosh boasts a good talent with detail and presenting fine, natural colours.
Best of all was its skill with light sources and deep blacks. The Se7en scene with the dead obese guy has to be one of the darkest ever filmed, but we still saw everything we needed to on the 17WL46B. Less positive however were the sometimes soft edges and the level of artefacting that we saw on background surfaces - like the wall of Detective Mills' bedroom early on in Se7en.
The Toshiba's dinky speaker is located just underneath its screen, and it does as good a job as can be expected under the circumstances. It provides a surprisingly amount of bass, but suffers from a little cabinet rattle when the volume is pumped up.
Due to its minor picture imperfections and awkward setup procedure we can't quite give the Toshiba 17WL46B our unreserved seal of approval. However, it's still a solid enough machine at an affordable price.