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Toshiba has been doing its part to help out those with crunched credit by releasing a number of budget TVs that punch above their weight when it comes to performance. With the Regza 32AV615DB, the company's looking to continue this trend, but can a 32-inch, HD Ready LCD TV that's currently available online for around £300 really cut the mustard?
Toshiba has had to make some compromises to achieve the £300 price tag. As you'd expect of a telly in this price range, the 32AV615DB doesn't have a 'Full HD', 1080p panel, but rather one with a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. Also, although the set can accept 720p and 1080i high-definition feeds, it doesn't work with 1080p signals and lacks 24p Blu-ray support. We don't think these compromises are too big an issue in a 32-inch set, though.
Elsewhere, the specs are actually pretty impressive. On the connectivity front, the TV is kitted out with three HDMI ports and two RGB Scart inputs, plus a set of component inputs. In the image-processing department, the Active Vision engine is present to reduce picture noise, jagginess and other artefacts. The TV also uses Toshiba's Dynamic Contrast system, which automatically adjusts the intensity of the display's backlight as pictures flit between brighter and darker scenes.
We liked the set's remote as, although it's smaller than usual, it actually has quite large buttons and the layout is well judged. Alas, things aren't so rosy when it comes to the Freeview tuner. We found that it was rather slow to handle channel changes, and we weren't keen on the Freeview electronic programme guide either. The main problem with the EPG is that it only lets you view programme information for the channel currently being watched. There's no way to check what's showing elsewhere without actually switching channels.
Setting up the TV is a piece of cake, as the menus guide you through the installation process. There's a good range of picture options, giving you plenty of control over colour, brightness, contrast and flesh-tone settings. You'll need to dig into these, because the default picture presets are overly garish.
Dial it down
Once you've toned down the colours in the presets, you'll find the TV is more than capable of delivering realistic skin tones and natural-looking colours. The 32AV615DB's black levels aren't exactly exemplary, but they're not too bad, and they're much better than those we've seen on similarly priced sets from budget manufacturers.
The picture-processing engine also does a decent job of keeping nasty artefacts at bay and, despite having to rely on standard 50Hz technology, it manages to keep motion judder to a minimum. Upscaling of Freeview and DVD signals isn't too bad, but the set lacks Toshiba's Resolution+ processing engine and, consequently, isn't quite as good as the slightly more expensive Regza 32AV635DB in this respect.
Cheaper TVs usually suffer in the sound department but, thankfully, the 32AV615DB puts in a decent performance here too. On paper, its 10W speakers may seem rather puny, but they've actually got enough power to comfortably fill a decent-sized front room. Movie dialogue is clear and distinct. Although the speakers are rather lacking in bass, that's a complaint we could level at several TVs that cost double the price of this one.
The Toshiba Regza 32AV615DB may not have the features to match its high-end rivals, but those features it does have provide excellent picture quality at a very low price point. If you're looking for a budget TV that doesn't compromise on picture performance, this is the set to go for.
Edited by Charles Kloet