It's amazing what you can buy for £650 these days. Just a few years ago, you wouldn't have been able to get a 30-inch TV for that. But now you can get the 1080p, 42-inch Toshiba Regza 42RV635DB LCD TV for around that price. It doesn't sport much in the way of special trickery, but it's an appealing, reasonably low-cost set that we think will be very popular with a great number of people.
With UK homes being smaller than those in the US, it's not unreasonable for us to keep our TV sizes down too. 50-inch screens or larger might be fine if you live in a castle, but most semi-detached houses can't cope with screens that large. We think 42-inch screens are about the right sort of size for most homes.
Like all Toshiba TVs, this one comes in two parts, with the stand separated. This, we're told, helps to reduce the size of the packaging, which, in turn, means it's more environmentally friendly to ship the TVs around. Cunning. You'll need to use the provided Allen key to put the stand together. This isn't complicated. It simply involves screwing a supporting strut into the stand and then screwing the strut into the TV. It'll take about 10 minutes, and the TV is light enough for a 31-year-old man to lift, on his own, without incurring the wrath of the hernia gods.
Toshiba has improved two key areas of its TV design recently. The first is the remote control, which used to be large and slightly unwieldy. The formerly long design has now been replaced by something much stumpier, but it fits into the hand far better. If you have average-sized paws, you should be able to stretch your thumb across the whole surface of the remote, which means you won't have to jiggle the controller about to reach all the buttons.
We're also big fans of the new menu systems. These enable you to navigate around the TV's controls without really thinking about it. Toshiba menus used to be quite clunky, so we welcome the new facelift.
You'll also find, when you first install the TV, that it guides you through the set-up process with the minimum of fuss. For example, it asks whether you're in a shop or house. The answer you give enables it to present you with the backlight level that's most appropriate to your needs. This is really important for improving picture quality and reducing your energy bills. You'll also be asked what TV stations you want to tune in. You can select either analogue, digital or both. In a few years, this question will be somewhat redundant, but, for the time being, it's good to have the option of excluding analogue if you have digital, or vice versa.
We spend numerous lunchtimes munching on a sandwich and watching The Jeremy Kyle Show or Neighbours, so, as you can imagine, Freeview performance is very important to us. The good news is that there's nothing to worry about here -- the 42RV635DB manages to do a very good job with over-the-air TV pictures.
In fact, we'd actually go so far as to say it's excellent. We watched a variety of programming, and, on the whole, we were very impressed by how the TV managed to convey both detail and colour. This is extremely pleasing, because, all too often, Freeview is neglected. That's fine if you don't like Freeview, but, for most people, it's still a crucial part of their TV viewing.
Blu-ray and hi-def gaming
If you're a PlayStation 3 owner, or any sort of gamer, you'll be keen to know how the 42RV635DB performs with consoles. The answer is: very well indeed. We played a demo of Need for Speed: ProStreet and were very happy with the performance of the TV. There's also a picture mode designed for gaming, alongside the modes for movies and other sorts of viewing.
Blu-ray performance was, as expected, excellent. We watched some clips from The Dewey Cox Story, including some of the music videos. We found the colour this TV produced to be almost ridiculously good. It was bright and vivid, without seeming to overdo it. Even with the backlight turned down, we found that the picture was popping with colour. Detail was also excellent, with plenty of sharpness and very well-defined edges.
All things considered, if you're an HD fan, this TV really won't disappoint.
The 42RV635DB also features something that Toshiba calls the 'Meta Brain'. This silly-sounding device looks after functions like Resolution+ (Toshiba's upscaling technology), the Active Vision picture processing and Dolby Volume.
We really couldn't care less about Resolution+. We can see the difference it makes to a TV picture, and we aren't impressed. It's really all about edge enhancement, and, while you may like the result, we think it can do more harm to a picture than good. Still, such things are always subjective, and we'd encourage you to experiment with the settings and find out what suits you.
As always though, the Active Vision picture processing works really well. It's this technology that looks after processing the Freeview picture and making it look natural and detailed when it hits the screen. We think it does a pretty good job of that. Despite a silly name, then, Meta Brain seems worthwhile.
Here's another little surprise. The 42RV635DB actually manages to create a pretty decent sound from its built-in speakers. It's certainly sufficient for enjoying the majority of TV programmes, and probably good enough for basic film viewing. As always though, if you're listening to films via TV speakers, you're only cheating yourself.
The most negative thing we can say about the Toshiba Regza 42RV635DB is that it's rather boring. We rue the day that Toshiba took its ultra-thin-bezel TVs out of production. These looked amazing, and would still do so today, as there really isn't much competition for thin bezels what with all the fuss about making TVs that are just 9mm or so thick. Still, Toshiba tells us it's not practical to continue with these designs, especially in a recession, so that's the end of that.
If you want a solid, high-quality TV that will do justice to pretty much any kind of video you care to throw at it, this is quite possibly the TV for you. It's cheap enough to appeal to the budget-conscious and those who don't think a TV should cost as much as a week in the south of France. We like this TV, and we think you will too.
Edited by Charles Kloet