Toshiba 32RL958 review

The ultimate trickle-down TV?

Toshiba 32RL958
The Toshiba 32RL958 has Wi-Fi and a good price

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The Toshiba 32RL958 is festooned with ins and outs. A panel on the left-hand side of the TV's rear (as you watch TV) houses two HDMI inputs, one capable of taking an Audio Return Channel, above an digital optical audio output, which is useful if you plan to use the Toshiba 32RL958 with a home cinema sound system.

Lower down is a three-way split between an Ethernet LAN port (though a Wi-Fi module is also onboard), a 15-pin D-sub connection for hooking up a PC or laptop (despite most now nursing HDMI) and a USB slot.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

As well as an RF aerial input, the Toshiba 32RL958 also finds room for an RGB Scart, and a full set of component video inputs, including right and left phonos

A side panel close by adds the icing; a second USB input (handy, since the Toshiba 32RL958 can indulge in basic recordings from the Freeview HD tuner, as well as digital media playback), a third HDMI input, a headphones slot and a Conditional Access Module slot for topping up Freeview HD with subscription TV channels.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

That side panel also includes some basic TV controls lest we lose the remote, with an input/channel changer and volume controls as well as a standby switch. A cable-free alternative is the Toshiba 32RL958's Intel Wireless Display (or WiDi for short), though unfortunately technical issues prevented us from testing this.

The Toshiba Remote app for smartphones is available, and though it's slated to work with either a Toshiba TV or Blu-ray player, we couldn't get our download on an iPhone to detect the Toshiba 32RL958 on our network.

We're told that MediaGuide - an EPG app that can be installed as the default on the Toshiba 32RL958 at start-up - will soon be available as an app, too.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

Aside from a lack of choice, the most irritating aspect of the smart TV platform Toshiba Places is that engaging it immediately shuts off live TV. But that doesn't mean browsing must be done in silence. Instead, adverts for the apps themselves play in a thumbnail. Some of them are even in German. Gosh.

It's strung into six sections; TV Place, Video Place, Music Place, Games Place, Social Place and News Place, with a seventh icon - Favourites - available for collecting together most used apps.

There's not much to get excited about; from 24 apps in total in Toshiba Places, only the BBC iPlayer, a web-connected and thoroughly dynamic MediaGuide (a big advance on the electronic programme guide provided by broadcasters), YouTube, Acetrax movie streaming, Skype and Flickr piqued our interest, though we do have a soft spot for iConcerts, too.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

Probably the most useful aspect of Toshiba Places for families is the chance to set up individual accounts, primarily to customise the Social Place. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and DailyMotion sign-ins can be remembered automatically (and the lot password-protected), while there's a link to an email account inbox, too.

Toshiba is also one of the only smart TV platforms without an online shopping hub for apps and services, which tend to act as a handy 'app graveyard' for apps you don't want cluttering up your TV.

Integrating smart TV functions into the TV itself is a good way of streamlining, but it happens less here than it should - or used to.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

On previous Toshiba TVs, the Toshiba Places icon on the carousel had shortcut links to both BBC iPlayer and YouTube.

But on the Toshiba 32RL958 it's necessary to fire up Toshiba Places and trawl through folders. For that and other reasons, Toshiba Places remains a distinctly second-rung smart TV platform.

At least the MediaGuide can be set as the default EPG, and hence accessible direct from the remote without having to touch Toshiba Places.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

It's hardly a lost cause - it works quickly enough on the Toshiba 32RL958 and does have its moments - but as a platform it also comes across as being rather too sure of itself.

Select 'Exit' while in Toshiba Places and the TV asks if we're sure, the default answer being a big fat 'no'. Three button presses to stop doing something is just too much.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

In terms of advanced picture tech, the Toshiba 32RL958 is distinctly lacking; an Edge LED-backlit LCD panel is armed with AMR100 (100Hz tech), AutoView and an Ambient Light Sensor, but its Full HD resolution doesn't get much help beyond that.

That said, the Toshiba 32RL958's Advanced Picture Settings comprise a number of automatic modes for brightness and backlight, as well as colour temperature and Toshiba's regularly impressive detail enhancement circuitry called Resolution+.

Expert settings add white balance, gamma calibration and a helpful built-in test pattern.

Toshiba 32RL958 review

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),