Toshiba 55VL963 review

Toshiba's 55-inch LED TV is smart and affordable

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Great Value

The Toshiba 55VL963 can be considered a solid large-screen proposition. For those seeking a big value 55-inch TV, its competitive price tag will be enough to warrant shortlisting. However it's frustrating that it falls short of being the screen it could have be, thanks to picture processing oddities and general inadequacies in the specification.

The IPTV selection is mediocre. Offering BBC iPlayer and YouTube is no longer good enough to get a tick in our IPTV streaming column. Both are ubiquitous and many users will almost certainly have access to them via games consoles or Blu-ray players.

Sadly, the screen fails to offer top SVoD services Netflix or LoveFilm, and what's left is made unappealing by the structure of the Places portal itself. What's more, Toshiba gets a positive demerit for not even trying to offer a decent level of file support for its Network Media Player.

That said, if you're prepared to rely on the good old-fashioned sneakernet, the USB media reader does a solid job.

The set's picture performance is also a mixed bag, but generally comes out on top: images are punchy and engaging. Just don't mention the Active Motion wobbles, and steer clear if you're a videophile.

The provision of passive polarised 3D is welcome, though. The 3D images have depth and brightness, and the cheap glasses are light and comfortable. Invest in a copy of A Turtle's Tale on 3D Blu-ray and your budding movie critics will be amused for hours on end.

We liked

The design and build quality of the television is excellent - the Toshiba 55VL963 looks decidedly upmarket.

The Toshiba 55VL963 also produces deep, contrasty images that we love, boasts passive family-friendly 3D and is easy to control via a slick interface.

We disliked

However, stay clear of Active Motion processing and its irritating wobbles. The Toshiba 55VL963 also lacks integrated Wi-Fi, so you'll have to attach a Wi-Fi dongle to get connected, and the Toshiba Places portal is overly fussy.

Final verdict

Positioned as a land-grabbing large television, the Toshiba 55VL963 appears to have all the requisite qualifications to march ahead of its rivals: it's attractively priced, is internet-enabled and even tempts with wireless WiDi.

But there are caveats. Toshiba Places remains a clumsy online portal, and the choice of catch-up/streaming services is limited; WiDi doesn't work unless you plug in a Toshiba Wi-Fi dongle, and ARM400 picture processing fails to impress.

Then again, it looks beautiful, is well-priced and images have an agreeable zing. For many that just might be enough.

Also consider

The Toshiba 55VL963 faces off against, but is slightly cheaper than, the Sony KDL-55HX753 (priced around £1,550) and LG 55LM670T (available for £1,700 or less).

Both these rivals offer comparable internet connected streaming portals, with similar service rosters (BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Netflix). They also have integrated Wi-Fi and 3D, using Active Shutter and Passive technology respectively.

Alternatively, consider Toshiba's own 55WL863 and 55YL863 Pro-LED models that outperform this new release, yet may be available for less as they come to the end of their shelf life.