Toshiba 32L6353 review: Toshiba 32L6353

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The Good Great connectivity for a budget model; Sharp standard definition and HD pictures; Rich colours; Stylish design.

The Bad Sluggish user interface; Smart TV system needs more apps; Black levels could be deeper; Some backlight clouding.

The Bottom Line With good connectivity, decent picture performance and a stylish design, there's plenty to like about Toshiba's 32L6353, especially as it's so cheap. Sony's KDL-32W653, however, only costs around £40 more, has significantly better picture quality and a snappier smart TV system. Ultimately, if you can afford it we'd suggest you go for that model instead.

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7.5 Overall

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Like Sony's 42W635A that got the CNET UK once-over recently, Toshiba's 32L6353 ditches 3D support and benefits from a much-reduced price tag because of it. In fact, you can buy it online for under £350. Thankfully it does have Toshiba's smart TV system onboard, so you don’t have to go without iPlayer and it has four HDMI ports too, which is generous for a 32-inch model. So is it a good bargain buy?

User interface and TV guide

As soon as you turn on the TV, you're greeted by Toshiba's fresh new user interface. It looks much more modern than the company's old system, with crisper graphics and more user-friendly menus. A start-up wizard guides you though the process of connecting the TV to the Internet and tuning all the channels.

The various picture and audio settings are found tucked away in the main menu. This has a more traditional structure than Toshiba's old, wheel-based system, so it's more straightforward to use. Despite the set's low price, it has a strong array of picture tweaking options, including a colour-management system and two-point white-balance control. It also has Toshiba's AMR100 motion processing and Resolution+ upscaling system onboard.

Toshiba 32L6353 Menus
The menu system looks good, but often moves at a snail's pace.

This is all great, but the problem is that the menu system is annoyingly unresponsive. Often you find yourself clicking on the remote repeatedly to just try to get it to react -- it really is that sluggish.

As with Sony's latest TVs, Toshiba has decided to equip its models with two programming guides. There's a standard Freeview one that draws its information over the air and a secondary Internet enabled guide that's accessed via the set's smart TV system. The latter shows more information, such as the details of actors and directors, but it's very slow to start up, so not really worth the hassle.

The standard Freeview guide is more useable and shows a lot of programming information on the screen in one go. Its basic design means it's not visually appealing and it annoyingly lacks a video window, but it does at least keep the audio running in the background so you can keep tabs on the show you were watching when you open it up.

Smart TV system

The TV also comes with Toshiba's new smart TV system, or 'Cloud TV' as Toshiba calls it. This is split into a number of different screens that you move between using a rotating tab at the top.

The default screen is called 'Home' and has a number of panels showing the time and date, a video window of the current show you're watching as well as a suggestions box beneath with upcoming shows the smart TV system thinks you might want to watch. There's also a box towards the centre of the screen that shows TV-related tweets that are currently trending on Twitter. Unfortunately this box can’t be turned off and it doesn’t sensor rude words in tweets, so you do sometimes see some ripe language in there. That's something that won't be welcomed by those with youngsters in the house.

The other screens basically have different grids of smart TV apps and features such as shortcuts to the full web browser and the folder that stores recordings you've made to USB drives.

Toshiba 32L6353 Smart TV
Netflix has been added to the smart TV system, but it is still sluggish.

Toshiba has increased the number of apps available on Cloud TV compared to the old Places smart TV system. It now includes Netflix, for example, alongside BBC iPlayer and Blinkbox. It still falls a long way short of Samsung's system though, as there are no apps for popular services such as Lovefilm, 4oD and ITV Player.

The Cloud system seems to have been speeded up slightly since I last tried it out on the Toshiba 58L7365DB, but it still feels more sluggish to use than similar offerings from Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and LG.

As you'd expect, the set also has a digital media player onboard, although this is somewhat weirdly labelled as Contents in the Cloud TV system. It happily played Xvid and MKV files from USB drives and across a network from a NAS drive, but the fast-forward control works when streaming files and the rewind control doesn’t, which is both odd and annoying.

Design and connections

Despite its budget price, the 32L6353 has a stylish and contemporary design. I particularly like the metallic-effect flash across the bottom and the way it's curved at the edges to give it a feminine look. The bezel around the screen is narrow too, measuring just 18mm wide, and if you peer around the back you can see that the set is slim, with a depth of just 39mm at the top. It does extend out at the bottom to accommodate the down firing speakers, but its overall profile is still quite svelte.

The remote is long and wide, but at least this means the buttons are generously sized. The layout is on the whole well thought out with the buttons for key features such as the smart TV system grouped around the central D-pad. The buttons, however, aren't as responsive as I would have liked and feel quite spongy to the touch. When you add this to the sluggish feel of the user interface and smart TV system, well, it's just not a good mix.

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