Design and connections
Taking the 39L4353 out of the box, it feels like a budget TV. It's very light, as its body is made from plastic, and the chassis creaks as you handle it -- the bezel at the top flexes if you apply pressure to it, for example. The set is also quite chunky compared to most of today's LED models and as a result looks more like older LCD screens when viewed from the side.
Does all this matter? Probably not. If you don't wall mount the TV then the thickness of the chassis isn't going to be particularly noticeable. Also, most of us don't man-handle our TVs once they're in place, so the slightly flimsy chassis isn't that much of a problem.
What's more, when viewed from the front, this TV is actually pretty handsome. The matte black bezel is only 15mm wide, so the set looks contemporary and the corners at the bottom have been curved to make the whole TV look less aggressively angular.
The set's remote isn't wonderful though. The buttons feel too spongy and when I combined this with the TV's sluggish menu system it wasn't a good mix. It's a shame as the remote isn't bad in terms of design and button layout.
For a budget model, this TV has an excellent array of connectivity options. Chief among these are its four HDMI ports (including one that supports MHL) -- a very generous amount for a budget set. It also has a set of component inputs, a full-sized Scart socket, a VGA input and an optical audio output for feeding audio from its Freeview HD tuner to an external amp. There are two USB ports as well, and naturally Ethernet and Wi-Fi are built-in.
The Wi-Fi chip supports Wi-Di too, so you can mirror your laptop's screen wirelessly to the TV if your laptop supports this function. Miracast -- a similar technology for Android phones -- sadly isn't supported.
The 32L6353's audio quality is pretty average for a budget set. It's small down-firing speakers are rated at 10W, which is enough to fill an average-sized front room. The resulting audio is mediocre though.
Toshiba hasn't added a mini-sub to the rear, which is perhaps not surprising at this price, so the TV really isn't capable of troubling the lower ends of the audio spectrum. This in turn means that action flicks tend to sound gutless as explosions and the like lack low-end rumble. It's not bad in the mid-range audio frequencies, so dialogue in movies or speech on TV shows cuts through the mix nicely.
Picture quality is obviously the most crucial element of any TV and sadly the 39L4353 puts in a lacklustre performance. Let's discuss the pluses first though.
The trio of 'Hollywood' picture presets are the best starting point for getting decent results from this set. All three look slightly yellow-y out of the box, but once you've toned this down using the TV's colour-management system you'll find it delivers a pretty sympathetic colour palette that works especially well with movies.
The display's viewing angles are also quite wide (an inherent benefit of this model's IPS panel), so contrast and brightness doesn't shift as dramatically as on some of Sony's displays when you view them from an angle.
Performance with standard-definition channels isn't bad either. These are softer than on Sony's sets, as Toshiba's once mighty Resolution+ system is showing its age, but its upscaling is better or on a par with many of Samsung's budget and mid-range TVs. HD sources look just as crisp as you'd expect them to be.
The 39L4353's black levels are so-so and don't compare well to many of the mid-range sets that I've had in for review recently. They're just not dark enough. Darker areas of the picture tend to look quite hollow too as it doesn't do a good job of reproducing shadow detail. You can improve the shadow-detail performance by upping the brightness, but this also makes black levels look even less convincing.
Another problem is that its backlighting was not very even, as the corners of the picture looked slightly grey-ish when watching darker scenes at night with the lights dimmed. Motion clarity is very average too. The set does have 100HZ processing, but you still see a fair amount of smearing during quick pans while watching the footy.
The upshot of all this is that the 39L4353 looks fine if used mostly in a brighter room, as in this setting the shortcomings of the uneven backlighting and black levels are less of an issue. If you're after a more satisfying movie experience with the lights dimmed you'd be better off looking elsewhere.
Toshiba's 39L4353 has its weaknesses. Its menus and smart TV system are very sluggish to use, black levels are weak and you can see some clouding from its backlight when used in a dimly lit room.
At £400, however, it's remarkably cheap for a 39-inch telly, looks stylish when viewed from the front and has great connectivity options. If you predominantly watch TV in a bright room and use an external set-top box for your TV and on-demand services, then it's actually not that bad an option.