Toshiba's Regza 42HL833B is a no-frills, 42-inch, 1080p, LED-illuminated LCD TV that's available for a fairly cheap price of £620 online. When we say no-frills, we mean it -- this TV lacks the features we're used to seeing even on budget models from other manufacturers. Nevertheless, if the picture quality stands up, it might still be a decent purchase.
The colour and the shape
The 42HL833B looks very similar to the Regza 32RL853 that we looked at recently. It has the same piano black finish and the bottom corners are cut away to give it a clean, angular look. The chassis doesn't feel as sturdy as that of many of Panasonic's models, though, with the base of the stand feeling especially flimsy.
As this is an LED model, the chassis is very slim, measuring just 45mm deep, but, weirdly, there's a bulge on the right-hand side that seems to serve no purpose. This is because the set shares the same chassis as the Regza 42DB833B, which happens to have an integrated Blu-ray player, so we guess it's just unused space on this model.
Manufacturers such as Philips and Panasonic have started to improve the audio from their slim LED TVs by packing in bigger speakers, even if this means creating a slightly thicker chassis. Sadly, Toshiba hasn't followed this trend and the 42HL833B suffers as a result. Its audio sounds tinny and rather muddy. Even if you use the bass-booster function, found in the main menu, it doesn't add much oomph to the bottom end.
For a 42-inch model, there's an alarming lack of ports, too. For example, while most 42-inch sets now have four HDMI sockets, this one has just two. If you've got more kit than just a Sky box and PlayStation 3, you're likely to need to resort to an external HDMI switcher. These two HDMI sockets are joined by a Scart socket, component inputs, VGA connector and composite input, but it's still not a comprehensive line-up.
The left-hand side of the TV is home to a USB port. This is used for digital media playback. The media player menu looks horribly dated, but at least the format support is quite good -- the TV played DivX, Xvid and MKV files without any problems. The 42HL833B lacks an Ethernet port, though, so there's no support for either DNLA media streaming or Internet services, such as BBC iPlayer.
Another anomaly is the fact that the TV only has a standard-definition Freeview tuner. Pretty much every TV we've seen this year from a major manufacturer has sported a Freeview HD tuner -- even the budget models. If you want to get access to hi-def services from the BBC and ITV, you'll need to use an external set-top box.
No frills or thrills
Apart from a 1080p panel and edge-mounted LED backlight, the 42HL833B is a pretty basic TV when it comes to picture features. It's only a 50Hz set, when 100Hz is becoming the norm, and, unlike higher-end models in Toshiba's range, it lacks the company's Resolution+ upscaling technology.
Resolution+ is definitely missed when you're viewing Freeview channels -- they look noticeably rougher than they do on the Regza 42RL853B. Motion handling isn't wonderful either, with some blurring and judder creeping in while watching movies on Blu-ray.
Still, the TV's black levels are reasonably deep, especially when using less aggressive presets, such as the 'mild' and 'movie' settings. But deeper blacks do seem to be achieved at the expensive of some shadow detail, and contrast isn't as refined as it could be, so sometimes darker scenes in movies can look rather muddy and murky.
Colours are generally perky and warm, but HD pictures are disappointingly soft. They just seem to lack the sharpness and detail that you'll find with more accomplished TVs from the likes of Panasonic and Sony.
Toshiba can do better than the Regza 42HL833B. The scarcity of ports, lack of Internet features and average picture quality means it isn't as good value as it seems. If you're looking for a low-cost telly that doesn't skimp on features, we'd recommend checking out something in LG's LD490 range or Sony's Bravia KDL-40CX523 instead. Both these models lack LED backlighting, but offer better picture quality and more features.
Edited by Charles Kloet