While Toshiba's previous WL56 range of LCD TVs offered a limited specification for an affordable price, the new WLT58 series has improved features and performance without distancing the budget buyer.
Among the improvements is an integrated Freeview digital tuner and market-leading connectivity that includes previously ignored component inputs and two HDMI digital video inputs. The high-resolution panel, assisted by Toshiba's Active Vision processing technology, also supports all high-definition formats for an inclusive future-proof specification.
The sober, grey design may be uninspiring but there is an exhaustive range of advanced adjustments to enhance picture performance. And, aside from background noise, images are impressive without being exceptional.
A competitive price usually means compromises and, without any omissions from the technical specification, it's build quality that seems sacrificed to keep down costs on the Toshiba 37WLT58, which is available online for around £1,500.
Grey frames are gaining popularity but, unless you're Sony, their contribution to style is as conservative as the colour suggests. From afar, the straight-edged construction, featuring a new slimline speaker system at the base, appears substantial. But closer inspection exposes a plastic camouflage, which gives the build a lightweight feel -- even the 'chromed' controls above the screen are painted to appear metal. The screen arrives mounted on an uninspiring pedestal stand, but the price includes a self-assembled, backless rack that will turn more heads than the TV itself.
Thankfully, there are no such compromises to the screen's outstanding connectivity. Finally, an affordable screen has arrived that features a choice of HDMI inputs. This means you can connect an HDTV receiver and an HDMI equipped DVD player without having to switch cables between a single input. The digital connections are located beneath a removable panel at the rear where you'll also find a RGB PC terminal with accompanying audio input and a CAM card slot for receiving subscription channels from TopUp TV.
Alternative analogue connections are separately situated beneath a rear panel on the right-hand side. Unlike earlier WLT56 models, there's now three Scart terminals, with two RGB-enabled for uncompromised picture quality. Previously omitted component inputs supporting progressive scan have returned to the fold. Both rear panels can be replaced once connections have been made but the lateral position of the analogue inputs makes it difficult to conceal cables without bending them -- stiff cables can be seen sprouting from the side.
Elsewhere, gamers and camcorder users are granted easy access to a set of standard AV inputs, including S-Video, at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. With so many connection options available it's unlikely that any of your components can claim to be ignored and Toshiba deserves praise for its all-embracing approach.
When we reviewed the Toshiba WL56 we complained about limited connectivity and the absence of an integrated digital TV tuner. Well, it seems someone was listening, as all WLT58 models arrive with built-in Freeview tuners and connections to spare. Add high-definition compatibility to the equation and you're left with an impressive future-proof design.
The high-resolution (1366x768-pixel) panel is supported by Toshiba's own Active Vision picture-processing system. Put simply, Active Vision employs a range of internal technologies to enhance the core elements of a picture -- detail, colour, movement and contrast. And, although the WLT56 models used the same system, the contrast ratio has been improved in WLT58 screens.