This LCD TV's features and performance are too big for its pint-sized frame.
Colours are reallistic enough
Electronic programme guide
Isn't HD Ready
Some colours come out dull
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Small but perfectly formed, the elegant-looking Toshiba 17WLT56 is not a poor relation to its larger LCD TV brothers: this 17-inch LCD TV has a few tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, the set's widescreen shape is a surprise, rarely seen on TVs below 26-inch, and it also packs in a digital tuner.
At first look this TV's 17-inch 16:9 display seems small compared to other 17-inch sets. This is down to the screen size being measured from opposite diagonal corners. This makes the screen shorter than other compact TVs. Thankfully, once you get over the initial surprise, the screen is very comfortable to watch.
The specifications gets this TV off to a healthy start. There's an impressive (at least for this screen size) 800:1 contrast ratio, 450cd/m2 brightness and a resolution of 1280x768.
Similarly, this Toshiba's connectivity raises a few eyebrows. Apart from two Scarts, a PC jack and the usual rear-guard of connections, there's a CAM slot (standard on any TV with a digital tuner) for accessing the digital terrestrial pay-TV service Top Up TV. Best of all, there are component video inputs that can handle 720p material: this TV isn't HD-ready, but can handle some HD.
The upshot of this connectivity is that you can get a hi-def fix from plugging in an Xbox 360 or (at a pinch) a first generation Sky HD box - a coup for an LCD TV this size.
Apart from its HD capability and its digital tuner, other features at this Toshiba's disposal include support for a seven-day electronic programme guide (EPG), picture-in-picture system, and an eight-event digital programme timer, ensuring you don't miss a single favourite programme.
All well and good on paper, and happily all this promising specification translates into mighty fine pictures too.
With our test DVD of The Proposition, a gritty Australian Western, this Toshiba effortlessly jumps over the first tricky hurdles that would cause lesser LCD TVs to come a cropper: namely colour tone and smearing over motion.
Even the skin tones during dark scenes, such as Guy Pierce's kidnap by a maniacal John Hurt, look menacingly believable. Similarly, this Toshiba boasts an unusually fast response time - handy for kicking irritating motion smearing into touch.
Black levels are more than convincing too, fine detailing is impressive and the picture is virtually free from noise. The list of good stuff is more than you'd have reason to expect from a 17-inch LCD TV.
If we were going to split hairs (which we are), the set's colours aren't all that vibrant. But that really is small beer when you take into account all the picture and feature triumphs that Toshiba has managed to cram into this TV.
The sonics aren't as stellar as the pictures. High sounds suffer from sibilance and the grim shoot out at the film's start sounds weedier than we hoped it would, but (most importantly) dialogue is clear and crisp. The volume can be cranked right up without turning the TV into a boneshaker.
All in all, the 17WLT56 redefines the small LCD TV market. There are cheaper models out there, but it's senseless to pay less when you can have so much more for your money. This TV puts in a performance that larger LCD TVs would be proud of, and we have no hesitation in declaring the 17WLT56 the king of the 17-inch LCD TV castle.
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