LED sets may be grabbing all the headlines lately due to their super-slim designs, but if you want value for money, TVs with traditional CCFL backlighting still have lots to offer. Take the Regza 40RV753 from Toshiba, for example. It gives you a rather large 40 inches of 1080p screen space plus a Freeview HD tuner for just £450.
Thicker not quicker
After being spoilt by the plethora of slimline LED sets we've had in for review recently, the Regza RV looks rather chunky in comparison. Still, if you're not wall-mounting your display, does it really matter how thin the chassis is? Probably not. That said, Toshiba's workmanlike design doesn't help matters. The square lines and all-black finish give it a rather staid and straight-laced look. It certainly lacks the design flair of some of the curvier displays from the likes of Samsung and LG.
Setting up the TV is quite straightforward. There's an on-board Freeview HD tuner, so if you live in an area that's covered by terrestrial high-definition broadcasts, you'll find BBC, Channel 4 and ITV HD services listed alongside the standard-definition channels in the Freeview electronic programme guide.
The EPG itself is pretty efficient as it displays a fair deal of programming information in one go. The set is noticeably slower at changing channels than the majority of today's models, however, which may be an issue if you tend to channel-surf by flicking up and down rather than simply picking what to watch with the EPG.
Toshiba has kitted the set out with plenty of connection options, so you should have no problem hooking up external AV gear. There are four HDMI ports as well as a set of component inputs, two Scart sockets, a VGA port and a composite socket. For digital-media playback, Toshiba has also added two USB ports as well as an Ethernet socket. One of the USB ports can be equipped with a Wi-Fi dongle if you'd rather go wireless than use Ethernet cables, but the dongle is pricey at around £50.
The set's digital-media playback capabilities are a tad disappointing, mainly due to a lack of video format support. The TV plays MPEG video, so you won't be able to watch your collection of DivX, Xvid and MKV files. This is unfortunate, especially since sets from rivals like LG support these formats.
Upscaling at a downmarket price
it comes to picture quality, the Regza RV should be judged in accordance with
its low price tag. We can forgive the fact that it lacks some niceties, such as
100Hz processing. After all, there's still plenty here to like. Its Resolution+
upscaling system does an excellent job of improving the apparent
resolution of standard-definition broadcasts on Freeview and DVDs -- a task it manages without making pictures appear overly
HD pictures also look sharp and colours are impressively vivid while retaining a refreshingly natural look. Although the picture presets are adequate (they avoid the trap of being overly aggressive with colours and brightness), Toshiba provides comprehensive picture-tweaking options, so you can easily adjust the presets to refine them even further.
Naturally, there are a few downsides. The Regza RV is not quite capable of producing the deep black levels you see on the best of today's LED sets. That said, at least the backlighting looks fairly uniform and manages to avoid the blotchiness you sometimes find on cheaper sets. As you might expect in a TV that lacks 100Hz processing, motion isn't as smooth as it could be and there's some obvious blurring on fast pans.
Toshiba has obviously taken advantage of the TV's deeper chassis and used the extra space to fit it with a decent set of speakers. As a result, the Regza RV has much better bass response than most of the slimline sets we've tested recently. This helps the set produce full-bodied audio with more low-end impact, so action flicks sound just as good as ordinary daytime TV fare, like soaps.
The Toshiba Regza 40RV752 is not the prettiest TV and its black levels and motion-handling certainly aren't perfect. In saying that, the set offers a lot of screen for a small price, has the added bonus of an on-board Freeview HD tuner and does a good job of upscaling standard-definition channels. As such, we think it represents good value for money.
Edited by Emma Bayly