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Not every TV in the world can sit at the top of the range. Indeed, some people only want a relatively cheap screen. Fortunately for them, Toshiba really seems to have been working hard recently on making televisions that are cost-effective and do the basics but nothing more.
The Regza 40LV713B is available online for around £500, which is pretty impressive for a 40-inch, 1080p LCD TV. It's not got many extra features, but it should suit certain audiences especially well, so let's take a look and find out if it's a bargain or just a waste of space.
Very basic styling
It's clear to see that Toshiba hasn't spent much cash on the 40LV713B's design. This TV is built for one purpose -- to provide value for money. To that end, there's no super-slim bezel or ultra-thin screen. This is an LCD TV that looks like LCD tellies used to: porky. But who cares? Thin TVs are lovely, but fatness doesn't affect the performance of the screen.
The TV includes three HDMI inputs, so you can get your high-definition sources on-screen without any hassle. There are also composite, component and VGA inputs. If you're still using Scart, you'll find a pair of these inputs too.
During set-up, this TV presented us with no problems at all. When you take it out of the box and plug it in, it asks you if you're at home or in a shop. The home option turns down the brightness, so it's not too overwhelming, and then the TV begins tuning itself in. Within a few minutes, the Freeview channels are tuned in via the built-in receiver, and you're able to watch TV.
The menu systems are simple too. If you need to adjust the picture settings --and you will -- then you're not going to get lost in a mass of overly complex screens. This welcome state of affairs is complemented by a simple and compact remote control. Our large hands didn't struggle to use it, and it's incredibly well laid out.
We're used to TVs not producing especially impressive sound, but the 40LV713B sets a new record for dreadfulness. The built-in speakers, while quite powerful, sound really awful. The audio is muddy and booming, even with the bass booster turned off. This makes listening to TV shows quite arduous, and means that you're virtually forced to invest in some sort of external audio system to get passable sound quality.
While we're never massively thrilled with built-in TV speakers, the 40LV713B's are particularly bad, and far worse than those of any other screen we've tested recently. The good news is that Toshiba has included a digital audio output on this TV, so you can connect it to a stand-alone home-cinema system. Although this is an extra expense, we still think it's worth doing with any TV, as the improvement in sound quality is so obvious and worthwhile.
Surprisingly good pictures
While the TV's sound quality is disappointing, we were pleased to see that its picture quality isn't. That's not to say it looks amazing out of the box, but, with some tweaking, you can get a very pleasant picture out of this TV.
To optimise your viewing experience, we'd suggest turning the backlight right down. We got ours to around 20 or 30 per cent, and found that produced enough light, without blowing out all the blacks. Then it's time to tweak the colours down slightly -- under the factory setting, they're too bright and overpowering, and lacking in realism. The MPEG noise reduction is also worth having, and we'd suggest you set it to medium on Freeview, but don't use it for HD sources like Blu-ray movies, or HD channels from a Sky or Virgin box.
Once we'd spent some time fine-tuning the picture, we were pretty happy with the Freeview image quality. The TV seems perfectly capable of showing fine detail, although some Freeview channels are transmitted at such low quality that no amount of processing and tweaking can save them. We're looking at you, ITV2 and More4.
Hi-def sources are a different matter, though, and we were actually bowled over by the effortless way the TV managed to handle 1080p Blu-ray material. Take, for example, District 9. Viewed on this TV, there was a tonne of detail, including the grain present in the original movie. The alien spacecraft looked stunning, and, when the windows shatter in the city's buildings, you can see every pane individually smash.
Even the black levels -- with the backlight tuned down -- are acceptable. An LED-backlit or plasma TV could do better, but, considering it's a budget screen, we're pleased with what the 40LV713B managed. The TV will also adjust the backlight depending on what's on the screen -- that's handy for darker movies or scenes that take place during night time.
No Freeview HD
The digital tuner in the 40LV713B is fairly basic, and doesn't support the new HD broadcasts from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. You do, however, get a normal Freeview service, with audio description -- useful if you have sight problems. At the time of writing, with the World Cup just starting, it would be lovely if the TV could show the HD channels, but we also appreciate that adding features like that just drives the price up, and that's not what this TV is trying to achieve.
Photo and music playback
The TV's one concession to modern features is a photo and audio playback option. Just plonk a USB memory card in the side-mounted socket and off you go. We doubt many people will ever use this feature, but it's one more thing to consider before you get your wallet out.
Toshiba seems keen to sell the 40LV713B on its ability to accept a PC input. That's hardly rare in TVs these days, but we can see the logic. For example, this TV would make a truly excellent companion for an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Indeed, we can see this being a pretty popular TV among cohabiting students at university, where life consists of watching The Jeremy Kyle Show while drinking lager, followed by an afternoon of running over prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto IV.
As well as a VGA input, which is useful for PC owners and people with a pre-HDMI Xbox 360, the TV also has a sound input, in the form of a 3.5mm jack. That means you can use the TV's built-in speakers for your gaming audio. As we've said though, the sound quality of the 40LV713B is hardly awesome, so perhaps consider another option for audio.
The TV also has a reasonably unimpressive grey-to-grey response time of 8ms. This is quite slow for gaming, and you might find this specification disconcerting if you're very worried about smearing. In fact, though, it's quite unlikely to be a major problem for most people. If you are concerned, perhaps head to Comet to have a play with the set before you buy it.
The Toshiba Regza 40LV713B is cheap, but it offers decent picture quality for the money, and a screen size that's likely to keep most people happy. Its audio quality is disappointing but, if you have either a hi-fi system or surround-sound receiver, then you can bypass the built-in speakers and get a much more immersive gaming or movie experience.
Overall, we liked the 40LV713B. Its better-than-expected HD video performance means it's definitely worth a look for PS3 owners who enjoy hi-def movies and already have their own speaker system.
Edited by Charles Kloet