Toshiba SL417U review:

Toshiba SL417U

We appreciated that Netflix and Vudu allow adjustment of most picture parameters, although fine color temperature is excluded.

Toshiba's array of controls is solid, although its Color Master color management system needs work.

HDMI inputs 4 Component video inputs 1
Composite video input(s) 2 VGA-style PC input(s) 1
USB port 2 Ethernet (LAN) port Yes

The selection here is perfectly fine, although, as with most thin TVs, you'll need to use the included breakout cables to connect analog video sources.

Nothing is missing from the input bay, and we appreciate the large icons.

Compared with most edge-lit LEDs we've tested, the SL417U's performance falls in the lower end of the field. While decent in dark areas, its black levels in bright scenes get washed out, thanks, we assume, to the variable DynaLight backlight. Colors also appeared less saturated due to improper decoding and a bluish grayscale, especially in the brightest and darkest areas. It also lacked the uniformity of its step-up cousin, although it did well enough for video processing and bright rooms.

The most accurate setting before calibration was Movie, but that's not saying much. It was exceedingly blue with light gamma and crushed shadow detail in both Movie 1 and Movie 2 settings. The latter has DynaLight, which controls global dimming of the backlight, engaged by default, while the former does not. DynaLight delivers superior black levels at the expense of many other areas, but in the end we found it best left turned on. Our calibration of Movie 2 removed much of that bluish cast but couldn't help in many other areas. The fact that the TV didn't display blacker-than-black made setting brightness, which affects black level, more subjective than it should be.

The biggest specific picture issues, as with the TL515U, were gamma and gamut luminance, and because of DynaLight's fluctuation we couldn't accurately measure or calibrate either one using standard window patterns (we ended up setting gamma controls by eye). We also noticed blocky artifacts in many areas when we engaged the Color Master CMS, so we left it off. In case you're curious, we also performed a calibration in Movie 1, with DynaLight off, and have included it in the picture settings linked above. Black levels were much worse than with Movie 2, although not as bad as on the TL515U--0 percent measured 0.0112 fL.

Our image quality tests were conducted with the comparison lineup below and "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" on Blu-ray.

Comparison models (details)
Samsung UN46D6400 46-inch edge-lit LED
Sony KDL-46EX720 46-inch edge-lit LED
Sony KDL-55NX720 55-inch edge-lit local-dimming LED
LG 47LW5600 47-inch edge-lit local-dimming LED
Toshiba 47TL515U 47-inch edge-lit local-dimming LED

Black level: The SL417U was mediocre overall in this area. At its best in the very darkest scenes, like the numerous shots of the Imperial fleet against the black of space, the Toshiba SL417U was a bit better than the Sony EX720, visually difficult to distinguish from the TL515U and the LG, but not as deep as either the Samsung or the Sony NX720. In most scenes, however, its dark areas, particularly the letterbox bars, became the worst in our lineup aside from the TL515U. One example came in chapter 31 (1:09:40) when Luke telekinetically raises the X-wing from the swamp--both Toshibas' letterbox bars, especially along the edges of the screen, were brighter than those on the other sets.

On the other hand we were happy to see that, unlike on the TL515U, the S417U doesn't overly brighten brighter areas, like the snowfields on Hoth. The white mountainside at 15:19, for example, did measure a bit brighter than on the other sets, but it wasn't nearly as egregious as on the TL515U.

The SL417U often showed too-light shadows, however, leading to a washed-out, flatter look in many scenes. The gear in the tauntaun stable (7:50) and Han's jacket (18:42) appeared quite a bit lighter than on any of the other TVs, for example. Setting the gamma control lower could make these areas look somewhat punchier, but we found it ended up obscuring shadow detail too much.

Color accuracy: While the SL417U wasn't terrible in this area it definitely fell short of the other TVs in our lineup. In bright white areas, like the snow of Hoth, it was the bluest of the bunch. That blue cast seemed to seep into skin tones, like Leia's face after Luke's return (17:09), which looked a bit cooler and paler on the other sets in our lineup. Colors also lacked some richness, mainly because we had to back down (desaturate) the color control to avoid red push--a slightly ruddy cast to skintones.

Finally the SL417U showed a bluer cast to deep shadows than any of the other sets in our lineup. The issue was mostly visible in the deepest shadows, such as the backs of the snowspeeders and the inside of the turret inside the hangar at 4:21. The Samsung and Sony EX720 also showed this issue, albeit not as badly as the SL417U.

Video processing: We had few complaints in this department. Along with Samsung's models, the Toshibas are among the few TVs we've tested with the ability to preserve maximum motion resolution and proper 1080p/24 film cadence. When we set its ClearFrame to On and Film Stabilization to Standard (the default settings for Movie mode), we measured 600 lines of resolution and saw no trace of smoothing or hitching in our 1080p/24 test clip.

The TV can also engage smoothing (dejudder) from the Film Stabilization menu, although there's just one level of smoothness available. Choosing Off in the same menu causes the set to engage 3:2 pull-down.

Uniformity: The edges of the SL417U appeared significantly brighter than the middle, especially to either side--an difference easily visible in dark areas, especially letterbox bars. The blotches we noticed on the Sony and Sharp were absent, however.

When seen from off-angle to either side in darker scenes, the Toshibas and LG were the worst in our lineup. They lost black-level fidelity worse than the others and also became significantly dimmer--the latter difference was extreme enough that it might be a side effect (no pun intended) of the passive 3D screen. They kept fidelity relatively well in bright scenes, however.

Bright lighting: The matte screen of the Toshiba was a boon under the lights, muting reflections better than the glossy Samsung or the Sony NX720 and preserving black levels quite well.

Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of this size in the Toshiba SL417U series, but we did test the 46-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Toshiba 46SL417U.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0034 Good
Avg. gamma 2.5626 Poor
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2904/0.2963 Average
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3127/0.3293 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3123/0.3277 Good
Before avg. color temp. 8083 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6633 Average
Red lum. error (de94_L) 16.2222 Poor
Green lum. error (de94_L) 6.8031 Poor
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 8.6381 Poor
Cyan hue x/y 0.2205/0.3181 Average
Magenta hue x/y 0.3122/0.1404 Poor
Yellow hue x/y 0.4376/0.5032 Poor
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 600 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 600 Average
PC input resolution (VGA) 1,920x1,080 Good

Toshiba 46SL417U CNET review calibration results

(Read more about how we test TVs.)

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