Toshiba 42HL833 review

Basic, generally sound and very affordable workhorse with edge LED backlighting

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Toshiba 42hl833

The 42HL833 performs best with bright HD feeds. Hi-def coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament was amazingly detailed and sharp, with individual blades of grass or beads of perspiration clearly discernible.

Even better, the clarity remains more or less unchecked during play, with balls and players moving around with little interference from motion trailing or resolution loss. This is surprising for a 50Hz TV and suggests an impressive native panel response for a budget set.

The colour performance, meanwhile, is dynamic and engaging but also subtle when required; skin tones and the green of the courts are totally convincing, with smoothly blended tones and no striping or blotching to speak of and black level response is solid.

Shifting down the gears to standard-definition feeds from the digital tuner, the 42HL833 still exceeds expectations - albeit by not quite as much. Most pleasing is the way the set retains its natural palette during the upscaling process, avoiding the unnatural sheen that tends to mar standard-def material on screens at the more affordable end of the market. Motion also remains decently smooth, though a little resolution loss is evident.

Standard-def images are upscaled with respectable sharpness, though the 42HL833 doesn't entirely get a handle on source noise. The MPEG NR system can help tame some of the blockiness and shimmering that troubles standard-definition pictures, but it also creates a slightly processed, laggy look.

The 42HL833 struggles with black levels when pushed hard by a high-contrast Blu-ray film.

It is perfectly capable of combining bright image elements with dark ones within a single frame during normal footage, but frequently fails to extract enough light from really dark scenes, leaving them looking milky and short of shadow detail.

A second problem concerns that classic edge LED woe of inconsistent backlight brightness. During dark scenes a slender ring of anomalous brightness runs around the edge of the screen, bulging sufficiently in places to become distracting.

This problem is only problematic during the darkest scenes and its impact can be reduced by reining in the backlight and brightness settings, but it doesn't seem possible to remove the inconsistencies entirely and the issue increases dramatically at viewing angles wider than 30°.