The ability to stream Netflix and other Internet sources, as well as the thin profile imparted by its edge-lit LED backlight, mark the Toshiba SL417U as a midrange HDTV these days. In its favor this set demands relatively little cash for those extras, and built-in Wi-Fi gives it a leg up on some of the competition. It does sacrifice picture quality in many categories, however, with variable black levels and less impressive color. That said, for less critical viewers who want the convenience of online extras built in, the SL417U is a solid bargain.
Severe, angular minimalism is the name of the SL417U's game. Its inch-thin panel is complemented by an inch-narrow bezel around the screen colored the standard glossy black. The only front-facing nods to flair are the subtle gray fade along the thicker bottom edge of the panel...
Although we like it better than the clicker included with the Toshiba TL515U, this remote is still one of our least favorite of 2011. The buttons are too numerous and similar, and the lack of backlighting is a hindrance in dark rooms.
The main streaming interface is called Net TV, and hitting the corresponding remote button shows all seven choices at once via an easy-to-grok semicircle with nice big icons--although we didn't appreciate the somewhat sluggish progression from one to the next.
Unlike some other TVs, the SL471U lacks a dedicated app store, but the presence of umpteen near-useless (and a few nearly useful) Yahoo Widgets should soften the blow. Among the latter are Yahoo Fantasy Football, Facebook, Twitter, and eBay along with the usual weather, sports, and news. Among the former are 12 games and 32 local TV station widgets--with no easy way to sort through them to find one that might represent your locality.
Hitting the menu button brings up an attractive two-tiered arch of icons, but the many settings choices quickly become confusing. Submenus are plagued by too much nesting, confusing labels, and zero in-menu explanations.
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 because of 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.