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Toshiba 42VL963 review

Ambitious but oh-so-slow Edge LED telly with passive 3D

Toshiba 42VL963


  • Design
  • Active Vision smoothness
  • Passive 3D performance
  • Four pairs of 3D glasses


  • Lacklustre smart TV
  • No Wi-Fi
  • Slow, unresponsive GUI
  • No wireless networking

With Freeview HD, 3D, Full HD and smart TV apps all wrapped up in an edge-to-edge glass design, Toshiba's 42VL963 might appear, at first, to be an everyman TV that's in prime position for a place in the nation's living rooms.

And though Toshiba, as a brand, has a heritage in putting together irresistibly good-value packages of the latest features, the 42VL963 is a reminder to never buy a television without first having a full hands-on demo.

It may have some usability issues that we'll discover later, but this 42-inch Edge LED TV hides them well.

With the lights on, the 42VL963 is quite the looker, with a single piece of glass covering almost the entire front of the TV.

Behind is a bezel about 10mm wide that surrounds the visible panel, while its depth of 34.7mm is also quite an achievement, though this does taper out slightly at the bottom.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

The Toshiba Places smart TV portal – including BBC iPlayer – makes an appearance on the 42VL963, though it's a wired affair here; there's no Wi-Fi on board.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

A Freeview HD tuner features, as does one-touch USB recording, while the 42VL963's got plenty of picture-boosting processing features, too.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Movie-centric picture presets are available – 'Hollywood1' and 'Hollywood2' (the latter has a touch more contrast and the back light is turned up a tad) – alongside dedicated settings for a games console and PC.

Toshiba 42VL963 review

Toshiba 42VL963 review

There are also a couple of far-out choices; ColourMaster, AutoView (where the 42VL963 monitors surrounding light levels and alters the brightness levels itself), Active Backlight Control (which dynamically boosts contrast and black levels) and Active Vision (a frame interpolation tech that lends smoothness to Blu-ray discs in various strengths).

All that said, the reason to choose this particular model over others is the inclusion of a polarised panel for passive 3D – with 3D specs in the box reaching the magic number of four; families rejoice.

Also available

The 42VL963 is accompanied by the 47-inch Toshiba 47VL963 and 55-inch Toshiba 55VL963 in the VL Series.

Those after an active shutter 3D alternative should head for Toshiba's otherwise-identical TL9 Series, which stars the 40-inch Toshiba 40TL963 and 46-inch Toshiba 46TL963.