Toshiba 32DL933B £331

25th May 2012 | 09:03

Toshiba 32DL933B

It has built-in DVD player, but is this LED TV really an all-in-one?

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

Like:

Saves on space; Attractive design; Low price; Digital file handling;

Dislike:

Motion blur; Lacks detail; Soft standard definition; Horrible remote control;

Introduction

After being bombarded of late by smart TV services, apps, Wi-Fi streaming and smartphone control while getting friendly with the major brands' televisions for 2012, Toshiba's 32DL933B is enough to give us a bit of a shock. Its killer new feature - and something that's almost unique on the market - is a built-in... wait for it... DVD player.

DVD, eh? If you're having trouble remembering what a DVD is, having long ago moved on to either Blu-ray or streamed movies, we seriously suggest you click away now, because this 32-inch LED TV is not for you.

Actually, we're not sure who it is aimed at: is it a very rudimentary living room TV or a great value all-in-one for a bedroom? If pushed, we'd opt for the latter, since this is a combi only in the most basic sense. There's no Freeview HD tuner, and nor can the 32DL933B offer Full HD resolution - it's merely HD-ready.

Can a TV be considered all in one if it lacks a Freeview HD tuner? That depends on how you consume your digital TV, of course - Sky+, BT Vision or Virgin Media TiVo subscribers would probably rather not pay for superfluous tuners. But our guess is that the Toshiba 32DL933B is destined for bedrooms needing a size upgrade - and where the major diet is DVD films.

Another clue to the Toshiba 32DL933B's intended destination is in its choice of either black or white finishes, the latter given a slightly different model number: 32DL934W. In terms of looks, we like the Toshiba 32DL933B as it is.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Buying Guide
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Its slimness is a moot point; although it's not exactly a fatboy model, the presence of that chunky DVD player extends its usable depth to over 63mm and moves it well away from any super-slim claims.

Gloss black and with a simple yet attractive furl across the top line, the Toshiba 32DL933B's bezel measures a meaty 35mm. The 32-inch TV costs £331 (around $520) in the UK.

Elsewhere in the Toshiba DL Series is a 19-inch 19DL933B, 23-inch 23DL933B and 26-inch 26DL933B, although oddly all are strapped with an HD-ready screen except the 23-inch model, which sports a Full HD resolution. They're all available as white versions, denoted by the DL934 moniker.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Elsewhere, Toshiba also sells the similarly HD-ready and black or white EL Series, which is available in the same sizes; it does away with the built-in DVD player, but retains LED backlighting.

If you want to step up to Full HD, consider the brand's HL Series, which come in 32-inch 32HL933 and 40-inch 40HL933 flavours. Both have slimmer screen surrounds than the Toshiba 32DL933B.

Features

The Toshiba 32DL933B's choice of connections is somewhat limited. On a side panel is the set's sole USB slot and a Common Interface slot, with two jacks below for attaching adaptors. Included in the box, those adaptors - commonly found on super-slim sets - enable component video and composite video cables to be attached, although the Toshiba 32DL933B is hardly short on girth.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

On the main back panel are two HDMI inputs, a 15-pin D-sub VGA-in for a PC, an RF tuner feed to power standard-definition Freeview, a Scart (increasingly rare on flatscreen TVs these days, and a clue to the Toshiba 32DL933B's intended customer), and a coaxial digital audio output.

The main feature of the Toshiba 32DL933B is, of course, that integrated DVD player. As well as spinning regular purchased discs it can play all flavours of dual-layer and two-sided DVDs, as well as CD, CD-R, CD-RW and DVD-RW stored with MP3, JPEG, DivX, AVI, MPEG and VOB files.

Similar fare (exactly which file formats, we'll investigate later) is playable from USB flash drives or HDDs plugged in to the set's side-mounted USB port, which can also source files from a connected camera or smartphone.

Native 50Hz processing power is on a rather basic 1366 x 768 pixel resolution LCD panel - albeit an LED-backlit version. There's no 100Hz option to lessen blur, and in use that omission has a negative impact.

Picture quality

Not surprisingly for such a basic set, the Toshiba 32DL933B puts in a lacklustre performance in terms of sheer image quality. Although it does have HDMI inputs so can show a feed from a Blu-ray player, such HD sources are cut down in terms of ultimate detail.

It's for that reason that we'll concentrate on the Toshiba 32DL933B's performance with standard definition from both its Freeview tuner and integrated DVD player.

We'll start with what we do like, and it's largely down to Toshiba's use of an Edge LED-backlit LCD panel. Without the across-the-board brightness that basic LCD panels supply, there is some significant local dimming at work here that aids the dynamism of the image.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Edge LED backlighting doesn't often achieve what it sets out to do, and that it does here is testament largely to the small size of the Toshiba 32DL933B; the light fired across the back of the panel appears to create a uniform brightness.

There's also little noticeable light leakage - a common weakness on Edge LED sets - aside from a tiny amount in the top-right-hand corner.

A shot of Barack and Michelle Obama shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth II on Newsround immediately reveals a complete lack of shadow detailing - the president's black suit appears to be as all-in-one as the Toshiba 32DL933B itself.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Aside from forced black levels and unremarkable contrast, softness is the Toshiba 32DL933B's real issue. Despite it being the norm until only a few years ago, the use of a 32-inch HD-ready panel proves a poor decision here.

At least it's not noisy; a showing of Pointless is far from flawless, but there's no suggestion of blocking, twitching around moving elements, or background noise. Quick, and even relatively pondering, camera pans suggest some motion blur, and a messy moving shot beside some railings confirms it.

A murky sequence from In Time on DVD where Will and Sylvia swim in a lake at night displays little detail, although it's back in the brightly-lit mansion that the real problems lay.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

A panoramic shot of a crowd of extremely deep black-suited party goers against white walls again suggest forced, rather false-looking, black levels, although most noticeable is both the overly warm colour tones and a slight blur evident in almost every movement.

As actors move about, there's a significant loss in resolution, but it's most obvious during close-ups. A quick turn of the head, or even a slight change of expression, is done under a sheen of softness, of blur, that we're simply not used to. Most Full HD TV screens - by now the dominant force in flat TVs - engage in some upscaling, and don't constantly stain images with motion blur.

Again, though, we note how clean the image is. It's as if upscaling has not only been completely ignored, but the opposite is taking place - so the finished image is so soft that problems with the image are less noticeable. A car chase later in In Time underlines that endemic issue with motion blur.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Turning to a Blu-ray disc of Avatar, the Toshiba 32DL933B suddenly does rather better. The detail-heavy performance makes it all the more disappointing that the Toshiba 32DL933B lacks a Full HD tuner.

The same criticism surrounding motion blur remains, particularly on camera pans, but appears lessened for objects moving horizontally across the screen. Nor did we notice any film judder - an unexpected plus point - while colour also seems more realistic.

Everything is better in HD... although it makes us miss Full HD even more, since a lot of fine detailing is either lost or stained slightly by jagged edges and/or flicker and shimmer.

While never impressing as such, judged as basic all-round TV for a living room or bedroom, this LED TV makes the grade - but only by a whisker.

Usability, sound and value

Usability

What bugs us most about living with the Toshiba 32DL933B - which we did for about a week - is the remote control. It's not just a design thing, but as well as being scarred by buttons that are simply too small, the remote is among the most unresponsive we've come across.

Operating the Toshiba 32DL933B's on-screen menus is like wading through glue, with double presses - often in frustration - leading to wrong choices and stored-up mistakes, thanks to the delay in commands being recognised.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Although it too is hampered by the remote, the DVD-specific side is easily controlled; up to 32x speed scanning is possible, as is skipping between chapters and returning to the core disc menus.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

The Toshiba 32DL933B's main operating system is bare bones, too, with low resolution and rather plain black-backed graphics with grey, blue and yellow lettering.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Press the Menu button and six icons appear along the bottom of the screen; Picture, Sound, Settings, Install/retune, Channel list and Media browser.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

The Picture menus include presets for Cinema/Game/Natural/Dynamic alongside some basic image parameters, though the promising Advanced Picture Settings menu just comprises options for colour temperature, picture zoom and colour shift (a sliding scale from red to green). Nor can the level of the backlight be altered - it's stuck on Auto mode across all sources.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Although the entry-level Toshiba 32DL933B lacks the kind of smart TV dimension that's quickly becoming standard on mid-range TV sets, it can handle some digital media files.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Not over a network - there's no wired LAN or Wi-Fi - but via the Toshiba 32DL933B's USB slot. Accessed via the Media Browser option on the home screen, in our test we managed to play AVI, MPEG and MP4 video - the latter in both its SD and HD incarnations - as well as JPEG and BMP pictures, and MP3 and WMA music.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

For a budget TV, that's impressive, although it was a near miss with MKV video - the TV recognised such files, but refused to play them.

Toshiba 32DL933B review

Sound

The good news here is that the Toshiba 32DL933B supplies enough bass certainly for dialogue-heavy movies. Demanding, high-octate film soundtracks aren't going to blow you away and will likely cause a treble-heavy, crowded soundstage, but we've heard a lot worse on flatscreen TVs of this ilk.

The trouble is, as an all in one TV and DVD player, the stakes are higher, and the sound quality really should be better. Still, at least there's a headphones jack and a digital-out to hook up a soundbar or home cinema sound system.

Value

Just over £300 (around $500) for an HD-ready screen once sounded like a bargain, and although prices have come down considerably in the last few years, this still represents a major outlay for most of us.

It's a good-looking television - we've got no arguments about that - and it's well positioned to attract anyone that wants to cut down on cable clutter, but on pure quality terms, there's really nothing to get excited about. The DVD player strapped to its back is basic, and doesn't upscale to any great extent; those not bothered about extra cables could get a better separate DVD player for £50 (about $80).

Verdict

The Toshiba 32DL933B is a fine idea, poorly executed. Toshiba's Blu-ray players are on sale for less than £80 (around $125), with 3D-ness only garnering a £40 (around $60)-or-so premium, so we don't think it's too unreasonable to expect something along those lines in place of what we have: a bog-standard DVD player.

Of course, the presence of Blu-ray would highlight the Toshiba 32DL933B's other misfire - its HD-ready screen - although even that ought to be enough to host Freeview HD programmes.

We liked

Again we remind ourselves that the Toshiba 32DL933B is likely to hover around the £300 (around $500) mark, and as such should be considered as a budget set. We like its cute design, and the way it handles digital video files from a USB stick is surprisingly accomplished.

We also admire the way it manages to overcome the innate weakness of its LCD panel not only with some decent local dimming, but also by presenting a clean, noise-free image from low bitrate material. It's really the only advantage of using an HD-ready panel over a Full HD resolution version.

We disliked

The awful remote control gets the biggest chunk of our ire, although we've enough left to scold other aspects of this TV - notably motion blur and overly forced black levels. The use of an HD-ready panel does mean that both hi-definition gaming and Blu-ray playing fail to sparkle, although we can't see any excuse for leaving out a Freeview HD tuner, which would help lift this TV to another level.

Final verdict

An entry-level TV that fails to push the boundaries of its genre, the use of Edge LED backlighting and an integrated DVD player are the highs in a largely disappointing performance.

An HD-ready panel helps keep poor sources looking watchable while also making sure hi-definition content fails to wow, but as a bedroom TV for those after a DVD machine, the Toshiba 32DL933B just about makes the grade.

The Toshiba 32DL933B appears to be aimed at consumers who want a flat-ish, telly, and no more - but is there anyone left in such a position? A saturated market ought to lead to either sparkling innovation or intrinsic good value, but Toshiba, normally so effective at the latter, mostly trips up with the Toshiba 32DL933B.

Also consider

Toshiba obviously does good business on its combi TVs, although it remains the only major brand to consistently offer at least one range of flatscreen TVs with an integrated DVD player.

It tried a similar trick last year with the Toshiba 32DB833, although we presume its unique offering of a built-in Blu-ray player didn't do so well, since there's no upgrade in its 2012 lineup.

Head to the combi area of Toshiba's website to see the latest - usually smaller - combination options, although some small brands such as Linsar sometimes make them, too.

If DVD is less important and you don't mind spending a bit more, Toshiba's 32RL858B is worth a look, as is Panasonic's TX-L32E5B.

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