Toshiba 37RL853B review

A decent mid-range 37-inch LCD TV with Freeview HD and a bucketful of picture adjustment options

Toshiba 37RL853B review
A good budget LCD TV, but not one that will challenge the ruling elite

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Toshiba 37rl853b

As previously mentioned the Toshiba 37RL853B has a Full HD panel with a Freeview HD tuner. It also has a generous four HDMI inputs (including one with an audio return channel), which should satisfy most users' HD habits (say for a games console, PVR and Blu-ray deck or home cinema system) and Resolution+, which upscales standard definition sources to 1920 x 1080 resolution.

There are also a broad set of tools that give you every chance possible of optimising the picture. You get the regular picture modes – Standard, Autoview, Dynamic, Game, PC and a brace of movie modes, which are called Hollywood 1 and Hollywood 2. It's quite likely that none of these will suit your tastes, even Autoview, which automatically adjusts the picture depending on ambient light conditions.

Naturally, it's a simple process to tinker with the contrast, brightness, colour, sharpness and backlight for each mode and any changes you make are saved for each mode. Further than that though is a surprisingly diverse range of adjustments.

But delving in to the Advanced Picture Settings menu to find such options as Colour Master, Base Colour, Colour Temperature, Backlight Adjustment Pro, White Balance, Black/White Level and Static Gamma, to name but seven, can all seem rather daunting.

And when you get down to the nitty gritty of tweaking the hue, saturation and brightness of red, green, blue, yellow, magenta and cyan you start to wonder if it's ever possible to find the right combination of settings that are just right for your preference. Even more so, when you consider that different sources need different settings, as do different times of day when the ambient light changes.

And just to complicate matters even further there's an 'Expert' sub-menu that has an RGB filter for adjusting each colour in isolation, plus a white balance tool and a test pattern to aid image adjustment. There's also a Control Visualisation graph which puts a brightness histogram and control curve up on screen and makes you feel as if you're wearing a white lab coat doing GCSE physics experiments.

And with no way of saving settings to different presets it makes you wonder how often any of these parameters will be used by the vast majority of owners. It's not as if Toshiba offers a cheaper model of the same size that includes a Freeview HD tuner and some multimedia capability but excludes the calibration toolset.

Talking of multimedia, Toshiba has not exactly blazed the trail when it comes to internet-based TV entertainment and the 37RL853 doesn't do a lot to change that perception. Other brands, such as Sony and Samsung, are offering a much broader selection of IPTV portals on their budget TVs than just YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Flickr, which you get here once you've hooked up to a router using Ethernet (or an optional extra wi-fi dongle). On the plus side though, at least iPlayer allows access to HD shows (and is a cinch to use).

If you're not using the USB socket for a Wi-Fi dongle you can enjoy multi-media playback from a flash drive. The ethernet socket can also be used for hooking up to a Windows 7 computer for the purposes of DLNA networking.

Other socketry includes a Scart, component video and composite video for any legacy analogue kit, plus a 15-pin PC input and a digital optical audio output. Finally, a CI slot will accept a CAM module if you want access to ESPN using TopUp TV's subscription service.

The 37RL853 can also act as a giant photo frame. Choose one of your favourite snaps from a USB drive or networked computer and copy it to the TV's own flash memory. It can be displayed with or without the date and time.