Toshiba 17WLT56 £450

30th Apr 2006 | 23:00

Toshiba 17WLT56

Small on inches, but big on features

TechRadar rating:

5 stars

This LCD TV's features and performance are too big for its pint-sized frame.

Like:

<p>Colours are reallistic enough</p><p>Electronic programme guide</p>

Dislike:

<p>Isn't HD Ready</p><p>Some colours come out dull</p>

At 17in, Toshiba's latest LCD might be the smallest in the brand's current range, but it's certainly no afterthought. For starters it's built in a widescreen shape - something that's very rare below 26in. Next, it's got a built-in digital tuner - something again that's practically unheard of below 20in.

Connectivity goes well beyond the usual 17in stuff too, by including both a CAM slot for adding Top Up TV to the set's digital tuner, and component video inputs which, remarkably, can handle 720p high defi nition. You can thus jack in an Xbox 360 in glorious HD, or even the fi rst generation of the Sky HD box, with its analogue HD output (though you'll struggle when Sky decides to broadcast something in 1080i rather than 720p).

The component jacks also accept progressive scan signals, plus there's admirable support from a PC jack and a pair of Scarts.

Key features beyond the digital tuner and HD capability include a picture in picture system, support for the seven-day Freeview EPG, and an eight-event digital programme timer. In terms of specifi cation, the screen claims an impressive (by 17in TV standards) 800:1 contrast ratio, eminently respectable 450cd/m2 brightness, and HD-friendly 1,280 x 768 native resolution.

All this top-notch spec turns into some really superb pictures. The 17WLT56 neatly sidesteps two of the most common problems of small LCD TVs: smearing over motion and poor colour tone. The former hints at an unusually fast response time, while the latter means that even skin tones during dark scenes look entirely believable.

The Toshiba also wins plaudits for its fi ne detailing, immaculate edging, and its almost total freedom from noise with any source other than, the analogue tuner. But with a digital tuner onboard, why bother with the analogue one anyway?

Elsewhere black levels look mostly convincing, while peak whites are well controlled, avoiding the fl aring sometimes seen on cheaper rivals.

If we had to pick fault with the 17WLT56's pictures, we might say that colours aren't particularly vibrant. Also our test sample suffered with some backlight spillage from its left-hand side. But these are mere droplets of irritation in an ocean of content!

The 17WLT56's sound is rather more average than its pictures, though. Explosions sound like they're coming out of a peashooter, and high-pitched sounds can appear sibilant and slightly harsh. At least vocals stay clear and surprisingly believable, though. Plus the soundstage expands well beyond the confi nes of the set's chassis, and extreme volumes are possible without causing speaker distortion or cabinet rattle.

You can get cheaper 17in TVs than this Toshiba. In fact, you can even get cheaper 20in TVs than this Toshiba. But considering that the 17WLT56 is arguably the bestfeatured and best-performing 17in TV around, we'd say it's actually something of a bargain.

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