The 26-inch 26AV713B is part of Toshiba's entry-level range. It takes over from last year's AV635 series, which produced some impressive, if basic, TVs. Priced at a relatively modest £280, the 1366x768-pixel LCD 26AV713B seems to be a good bet for a second TV in the kitchen or bedroom. But is this really the case?
The TV looks pretty much like LCD sets used to look before slim-line LED models appeared on the market -- big and chunky with a wide bezel running around the screen. Toshiba has added some design flare by gently curving the top and bottom of the chassis and adding a thin chrome band just below the screen.
there's only a standard Freeview tuner on board, you don't get access to high-definition
services from the likes of the BBC and ITV. While slow channel changes were an
issue with the other two Toshiba sets we've looked at recently -- the 32DV713
and 40RV753 -- the 26AV713 doesn't suffer from this problem. Interestingly, the
set also uses a completely different electronic programme guide from the other
two models. Instead of having a horizontal, bricks-in-the-wall style design,
the 26AV713's on-screen guide uses a vertical layout that's similar to that
used on the old TiVo PVR. This works reasonably well, but means you can't tell
at a glance if programmes on nearby channels will clash. We also found it annoying
that you can't check what's on another channel without actually changing the
channel from within the EPG.
For a portable TV, the 26AV713 is reasonably well endowed when it comes to inputs. Around the back, you'll find two HDMI sockets as well as a pair of Scart inputs. There's a VGA connector if you want to use the set as a monitor with a PC and a set of component inputs. On the left-hand edge, next to the CI slot, you'll find a solitary USB port. Unfortunately, this can't be used for video playback, but it does let you view JPG pictures and listen to MP3 files stored on a memory key or external hard drive. While the on-screen interface for this is quite basic (it's essentially a file browser), it is, thankfully, quick to navigate.
The TV's remote control is also worth a mention. Not only is it small and comfortable to hold, but it also has an excellent layout, with the Guide and Info buttons cleverly placed so they're always within easy reach of your thumb.
Best of the budgets
The 26AV713B is an HD Ready rather than Full HD set, with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels. It can display 1080i and 1080p content, but this is downscaled to fit the native resolution of the panel. In saying that, we don't think this is a major issue for a TV of this size, especially since HD material, such as BBC HD, still looks very sharp when viewed from a normal distance. The ActiveVision picture-processing used on this TV may have been superseded by the Resolution+ system found on the company's more upmarket sets, but it still managed to do a good job of upscaling and sharpening up standard-definition Freeview channels without adding in much in the way of unwanted noise.
For a portable TV, the 26AV713 has fairly comprehensive picture controls, including full colour management that lets you tweak the hue, saturation and brightness of individual colours. This is a very rare, but welcome, find on a 26-inch model. The set's colours look bold and punchy, without descending into cartoonish levels of garishness. Motion is handled well --the TV doesn't suffer from the smeary picture you notice on cheaper LCD screens during fast camera pans, although you will see some judder creeping in here and there. The 26AV713's black levels aren't as deep as those you get on mid-range sets. During darker scenes, this manifests itself as a slightly greyish look, but it's definitely not excessively bad. In fact, given the price of the TV, we think the 26AV713 significantly outperforms most other budget sets when it comes to picture quality.
Its chunky chassis means Toshiba's designers weren't struggling for space when it came to adding the stereo speakers. It's not surprising to find that the audio from the TV is rather good, especially when you've got the bass booster feature cranked up. It produces solid, focused dialogue, and music doesn't sound half bad, either.
The Toshiba 26AV713 isn't the most attractive TV around and it doesn't offer much in the way of fancy extras, but it produces excellent picture quality for its price, and that's what counts. The only real issue we have is that you can currently buy the larger Toshiba 32AV713 for exactly the same price as this smaller set, which doesn't make sense to us.
Edited by Emma Bayly