Toshiba 32RL953B review

Great features, but not enough to redeem a disappointing performance Tested at £380

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Great features, but not enough to redeem a disappointing performance


  • +

    Clear picture

  • +

    cheap price

  • +

    plenty of smart features

  • +

    good remote-control app


  • -

    Bold but unsubtle colours

  • -

    lack of detail in black areas

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    clunky interface

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Toshiba has regained its form of late, so we were excited to see this affordable set in our testing rooms.

In ergonomic terms, the Toshiba 32RL953B is not the slickest, with the TV programme guide looking a bit dated (there’s no picture-in-picture, for instance).

It’s better to download the free Toshiba TV Remote app if you’ve got a smartphone, as it’s quick to respond and a lot easier to move around the screen using the Flick mode.

Toshiba 32RL953B: Picture quality
As for the picture, first impressions are promising: it’s clear and decently detailed, with minimal noise. The edges of objects and outlines of people are sharply defined, too – much more so than Panasonic TX-L32ET5B, but with less refinement than the crisp Samsung UE32ES6800.

Contrast is a touch too strong, though, with deep uniform blacks sitting rather abruptly next to bright whites.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol does show up the limitations of this set, mostly with the way the pools of deep black are too uniform in shadows, swallowing up finer detail and subtle tonal variations.

The overdone sharpness of the 32RL953 means that its sense of perspective is slightly compromised too. We also suggest turning down the backlight to decrease the glare from unsubtle whites.

The colour palette is bright and bold, and we had to dial down the colour levels a bit to get a more natural tone.

Placed next to more competent screens – such as the Panasonics TX-L32E5B and the Samsung UE32ES5500 – the scenes in the upscaled DVD of Death at a Funeral seem like bright blocks of colour with little subtlety in shading.

As with previous Toshiba screens, we found that it fares a lot better in brighter scenes, especially those in natural sunlight.

Toshiba 32RL953

Toshiba 32RL953B: Smart TV apps
We streamed the Indianapolis MotoGP race on BBC iPlayer and it looked clear and crisp, with the contrast and colour having a much better balance, and the sharp edges lending themselves nicely to the edges of the track.

Few TVs would win accolades based on their sound quality but even then the Toshiba is an underwhelming affair, being rather hard on the ears.

It offers Voice Enhancement and Dynamic Bass Boost, but we find that turning these options on makes the sound even harsher and more artificial.

This Toshiba isn’t a 3D TV. But it’s great to see that it’s still packed with plenty of smart features despite its sub-£400 price tag. Along with Freeview HD, you can stream TV shows and films via a host of on-demand video services.

There are also plenty of news, entertainment and games apps to download from the Toshiba Places portal, and you also can access your photos, videos and music files stored on a USB drive too.

Toshiba 32RL953B: VerdictToshiba has some catching up to do if it wants to be a strong contender in this area. While we admire its determination to include full smart features at such an affordable price, the overall performance fails to impress – a shame, given the company’s recent First Test successes.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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