Toshiba 32RL858B review

A 32-inch Toshiba TV that's more than good enough for the price

toshiba 32RL858B review
Great Value
Toshiba has developed a reputation for delivering value for money instead of outright performance

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And so to the moment of truth. Has the Toshiba 32RL858's almost slavish bid to be all things to all men with its features led to some nasty picture compromises?

Actually, no. While its pictures are never going to challenge those of the leading lights in the TV world, they are certainly far better than those of the vast majority of budget 32-inch TVs.

So this review can finish on a deserved high note, let's get the bad news out of the way first. This is largely centred around the appearance of some backlight consistency problems. While watching very dark material on the Toshiba 32RL858, there are some parts of the picture that look unnaturally brighter than others, thanks to the difficulties associated with spreading Edge LED lighting evenly across the entire screen.

However - and this is a pretty big however - the backlight problems are generally very subtle, particularly if you do the sensible thing and rein in the Toshiba 32RL858's backlight level to somewhere around 60%. Certainly at this point the issues are far less overt than they are on some of Toshiba's larger and more expensive TVs.

Obviously having to calm the backlight down to fight the lighting consistency problems means you have to accept something of a hit with the image's overall brightness. But the Toshiba 32RL858's innate brightness is actually so high that pictures still have plenty of punch and dynamism even after backlight taming is complete.

Getting back to the negatives, the Toshiba 32RL858 is a merely adequate standard definition performer, since its processing doesn't prove quite as astute at suppressing source noise as the best TVs around.

That said, standard definition images do at least look reasonably sharp, and colours hold up passably well - something that certainly can't be said of the standard definition performance of many other cheap TVs.

It probably hasn't escaped your notice so far that even the negatives raised with the Toshiba 32RL858 have tended to come with some sort of positive qualification. There really isn't anything irredeemably wrong with the TV's pictures at all. And there are lots of things right.

Colours, for instance, are much more natural, vibrant but also subtle than those of almost any other sub-£400 32-inch TV around. With HD, in particular, the Toshiba 32RL858's colours look like they belong to a mid-range rather than a budget TV - there's none of that 'PC' (rather than video) flavour so common with cheap sets.

Part of the reason colours look so good is that the set is also miles better than most budget TVs where black level response is concerned. Dark corners are only very marginally affected by the sort of grey mist effect so common at the cheap end of the TV market. And as noted earlier, there are also no serious problems with backlight inconsistency - so long as you don't try to run the backlight at its highest levels.

Dark scenes lack a little shadow detailing and colour punch compared with more expensive TVs, but again, for the money there's really nothing to complain about.

The Toshiba 32RL858's sharpness is very good for its price, too, mostly because the 100Hz engine and a seemingly fast-response core panel means that there's much less motion blur and resolution loss than you get with the vast majority of budget LCD TVs.


There's also the Toshiba 32RL858's input lag to consider. After all, as a 32-inch TV there's a good chance it will be used at some point as a gaming monitor. So it was pleasing to measure a satisfactory average lag figure of around 35ms - low enough not to significantly damage your gaming performance.

John Archer
AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.