The Toshiba 32L6353 is the first TV we’ve seen from its 2013 range. There’s plenty to look forward to here, with an updated smart TV interface, a good selection of internet services, built-in wi-fi and smartphone streaming for starters. But it’s this Toshiba 32in TV’s Full HD screen that really catches our eye.
The Toshiba 32L6353 comes with a Freeview HD tuner, and right from the start, high-definition viewing looks bright and inviting. There’s good detail on offer whether watching the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage or Quantum of Solace on Blu-ray, with the Toshiba delivering a clear and sharp picture that’s comfortable to watch.
Colour balance is decent, although it isn’t too subtle in conveying complex shading, and black levels aren’t quite as deep or textured as we’d like, nor is motion as smooth.
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There is the usual drop in detail when switching to standard-definition content, with Hansel and Gretel on DVD looking a touch fuzzy around the edges and colours appearing blocky. This Toshiba TV is still a perfectly decent set for watching non-HD content.
On our review sample, there was a hint of patchy backlight in the bottom left corner, but it didn’t affect the quality of the picture. Overall, though, there is a lack of subtlety that stops Toshiba from rivalling the very best.
Sets such as the Panasonic TX-L32E6B are just that bit better at digging out levels of detail to offer a fully immersive picture. Colours lack absolute depth on the Toshiba, and shadows and highlights aren’t as naturally conveyed.
But it’s only in the little details that the flaws start to show up – as a whole, the Toshiba 32L6353 is a good screen that’s easy to watch for prolonged periods.
Sound quality isn’t a strong point for most slim TVs, and the Toshiba’s sound quality is far from satisfying. It sounds particularly small and sometimes unclear, although it isn’t harsh and there aren’t bright edges to make it truly uncomfortable.
It’s worth playing around with the sound settings for some extra punch and detail. Dynamic Boost and Stable Sound both offer a bit more oomph, although they don’t make the TV sound any clearer, subtler, or more cohesive. We’d certainly suggest investing in a decent pair of speakers or a soundbar.
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Smart TV features
The Toshiba 32L6353 features an updated Cloud TV interface with live broadcast and smart TV apps sharing the same space as live programme recommendations, weather and calendar widgets, and real-time Twitter feeds based on the shows you’re watching.
It’s certainly a more interactive home screen than we’ve been used to in years past, and for the most part it’s an interesting interface to access all the smart TV content offered by this Toshiba set. There are some superfluous features, though, such as being able to message people via your mobile device – but only if they have a Cloud TV account, too.
The layout of the home page is a bit cluttered, too, lacking the simplicity (and customisation) of Panasonic’s ‘My Home Screen’, and the slick design of Samsung’s Smart Hub interface.
The inclusion of a family calendar and message inbox feels pointless, too – you’re more likely to use your smartphone for such personal information. The live Twitter feed, based on hashtags, on the other hand, can be a fun feature if you want to see all the discussions surrounding a popular programme.
Connectivity and apps
On the bright side, the 32L6353 offers a good selection of internet music, video and TV services under the Premium tab. Netflix, Blinkbox, Vimeo, YouTube, Deezer and BBC iPlayer are the popular apps, alongside a web browser and the ability to make Skype calls (although you’ll need a separate camera for that).
A stream of Luther on iPlayer was uninterrupted with our stable connection – we were using wired ethernet, although the 32L6353 offers built-in wi-fi as well.
You can access various connected devices from the Cloud TV home screen, including flash drives with stored media connected to one of the TV’s two USB ports. You can also stream music, photos and videos from DLNA-compatible devices to the 32L6353.
It’s worth noting that there’s no support for WAV or FLAC, so you’ll have to stick with MP3 or WMA files if you want to stream music to the TV.
There’s also scope to record programmes on to USB hard drives, while four HDMI inputs should be sufficient for most requirements – one supports MHL (Mobile High-definition Link) for streaming HD content directly from Android smartphones. Analogue connections are catered for with component, composite and scart inputs.
Remote control and interface
The supplied remote control is a bulky and cheap-feeling handset that has awkwardly placed buttons, and the slow response time between pressing a button and the command taking place on screen can be frustrating.
You have to press buttons precisely and with more pressure than feels appropriate, and this affects how comfortably you can use the TV on a daily basis. Rivals from Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony offer a much more friendly user experience.
If you get frustrated using the clunky remote, it would be worth picking up your smartphone to control the 32L6353. There are a number of different apps you can use with the TV.
Most notable is the Cloud TV app from which you can set up your account, access the calendar and messaging service, and navigate your way around the TV using a comprehensive set of controls that includes three different gesture-based screens. The layout is neat and it’s quicker to use than the remote handset.
Swiping between the main control screens, however, isn’t as smooth as with some other apps, and the Cloud TV app is available for Apple devices only for now – Android users will have to download the more basic Toshiba Remote for smartphones.
There is also an Android TV MediaGuide app that does offer an attractive programme guide, but is available for Android tablets only.
Toshiba 32L6353 review: verdict
In the end, the Toshiba 32L6353 is a watchable screen for its sharp and clear picture quality and good selection of smart apps.
There are more exciting and more capable 32in TVs at this price, and the clunky and slow interface can be frustrating for some, but despite all that the Toshiba 32L6353 holds up nicely. If you’re willing to put up with its flaws, it’s a decent screen for the money.
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