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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Toshiba 40L7355 review: 40in LCD TV

Toshiba's 40L7355 is nothing if not high value. Combining internet TV functionality with 3D, at a price that generally undercuts rival brands (typically £650 or less), this fashionable thinscreen is certain to attract attention. See also: Group test: what's the best TV?

The 40-inch screen reviewed here is the smallest in the brand's L7 line. It's also available as the 50-inch 50L7355 and the 60-inch 60L7355. The larger models come with a fancier wire-frame pedestal, but have the same feature set.

The 40L7355 is well specified for the cash. There are four HDMI, SCART, component/composite AV, VGA, digital audio out and ethernet. Wi-Fi is built in, supported by Intel's WiDi, allowing screen mirroring from WiDi enabled laptops. There are also two USB ports, with external HDD recording functionality.

The 40L7355 is also the first LED-backlit LCD TV we've seen this year to feature Toshiba's new online portal. Its previous offering, Toshiba Places, never really became a destination of note, not least because it was a mess to navigate. Cloud TV appears much more tightly integrated.

Streaming services include Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Blinkbox, YouTube, Viewster, Dailymotion, iConcerts, Knowhow movies, Vimeo, Woomi and Livesport TV  amongst others. There's also a web browser, plus Skype (for which a webcam's required).  

The main Cloud TV home page is dominated by a central Twitter window and live TV feed. The Twitter client uses a proprietary algorithm to deliver tweets about trending TV shows. Clever you might think, but in practice there are several problems with the concept. During the day, when TV shows don't seem to generate much online comment, the box can go blank. It also seemingly has no qualms delivering expletives, not uncommon when tweeps are discussing shows. This could prove a little disconcerting in a family environment. It also potentially turns the portal page into a spoiler danger zone.

More crucially, both the main TV menus and the Cloud TV portal interface are sluggish to use. The processor in this set is either woefully underpowered, or we've just been spoilt by the influx of multi-core processors in higher end sets of late.

Media playback from USB is solid, with most content and containers playable. We had no problems with a test suite of files, including MKV, WMV, MOV, AVI, MP4, MP3 (but without album art), WAV, AAC and WMA.

Across a network from a NAS, the set was rather less confident. Indeed, it failed to play any audio files at all; including MP3s (we auditioned two TVs, both of which had the same limitation). Perhaps this will be resolved with new firmware in due course?

Toshiba's online proposition aside, the screen itself performs well. Overall image clarity is high, with great delineation from the set's onboard Freeview HD tuner, and accomplished motion resolution.

Rated 200 AMR by Toshiba, the panel is surprisingly fast, even without ClearScan high frame rate trickery. You can boost motion resolution from a native 900 lines to a full 1080 by using one of the ClearScan modes. We recommend the Standard setting, as this eliminates horizontal panning judder but doesn't penalise with heavy motion artefacts. For sport and TV it's excellent.

The 40L7355 black level performance is good for this class of screen, and backlight uniformity is perfectly acceptable. The darkly lit moody cityscapes of Total Recall (2012) retain plenty of grungy detail amid the shadows. Colours are not overcooked, either.

The set uses Active Shutter, rather than Passive 3D. It works well enough, albeit with minor crosstalk. Two pairs of lightweight shuttering glasses are provided in the box.

For such a slim set, audio is actually quite robust. The panel swells at the base to accommodate the stereo drivers, and while a panel of this size struggles to present anything other than a monaural soundstage, there is at least volume and girth.

The set is rated A+ for power consumption; it's officially listed at 48.1W for approximate on-mode power consumption. We measured 62.1W when displaying colour bars at 100 per cent.

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