- Good price
- Bright, colour-rich pictures
- MediaGuide Replay is an excellent smart addition
- Native black levels aren’t great
- Crosstalk and motion issues with 3D
- Some key content absentees from the smart TV system
Key Features: 47-inch LCD TV with direct LED lighting; Passive 3D playback (4 pairs of glasses included); Cloud TV smart platform with MediaGuide Replay; multimedia playback via USB or wi-fi/LAN network; High brightness, wide colour gamut panel
What is the Toshiba 42L7453DB?
The 42L7453DB is a 42-inch TV sitting at the top of Toshiba’s HD range for 2014. Such ‘premium’ HD TVs are finding themselves increasingly squeezed as the prices of 4K/UHD TVs plummet, but the 42L7453DB stays well and truly in the safe zone by selling for just £599/$899 – a figure low enough to mix it with the mere mid-range models of most other brands.
Design and Features
The 42L7453DB isn’t the most glamorous high-end HD TV in town. It’s essentially just a plasticky black rectangle atop an attractive but hardly ground-breaking open frame silver desktop stand. It’s fairly slim in the rear, though, and it’ll be easy enough to forgive it a little flimsiness if it delivers great pictures for its £599/$899 price of entry.
Connections are up to premium TV standards, with highlights of four HDMIs, two USBs and the typical integrated Wi-Fi and LAN network options. The USBs and network connections support playback of a decent array of multimedia file formats, and the network options also give you access to Toshiba’s latest Cloud TV online platform.
There are significant content shortcomings with this platform, but it does have one great feature in the incarnation of it found on the L7453DB range: MediaGuide Replay. By automatically recording to an external hard drive (if you attach one) any programmes the TV’s ‘learning’ algorithms think you might like, MGR essentially brings integrated TiVo-like functionality to the TV world for the first time. Aside from the fact that MGR deserves to be supported by some memory built into the TV (to avoid the likelihood of many people not using it because they never get round to adding any external memory), it’s a really great feature to find in a TV.
For a more in-depth exploration of the pros and cons of Toshiba’s latest Cloud TV smart system, take a look at our dedicated review.
When it comes to the sort of picture technology we look for on premium TVs, things don’t get off to a great start when it turns out that the 42L7453DB uses an IPS-type panel – an LCD technology that was seen as the next big thing due to greater viewing angles but has largely proved disapointing thanks to poor contrast performance. On the upside, the set employs contrast-friendly direct LED lighting (with lights directly behind the screen) and local dimming, where sectors of the lights can be individually controlled.
Its panel also delivers a huge brightness boost over most LCD TVs – up to 700 nits – by reducing the spacing between each of its 1920×1080 pixels. Though obviously we’ll only be embracing this feature if it’s employed without compromising black level response too much.
It’s not just the 42L7453DB’s brightness that’s stretched beyond the norm either. The screen’s colour gamut claims 14% more colour space than you get with the next TV series down in Toshiba’s current LCD range.
And still we’re not done with the premium picture features. For playing ringmaster is Toshiba’s legendary CEVO processing engine, which this year includes a new element apparently designed to reintroduce the brightness and colour lost from originally filmed material when it’s converted into broadcast images. It also drives a potent motion reproduction system that combines backlight scanning, motion interpolation and a native 100Hz panel to deliver a claimed simulated 1500Hz effect.
Turning to the 42L7453DB’s audio, it would be easy to think from its skinny frame that it isn’t doing anything fancy sonically. But in fact, as well as using a ‘Labyrinth’ long-duct speaker design to give the speakers more room to shift air, the set also carries the reasonably effective DTS Premium Sound virtual surround sound processing system and can additionally separate dialogue tracks from the rest of the audio mix. Which, um, is great for karaoke, we guess?!
Last and possibly least on the 42L7453DB’s feature list is its 3D playback. This is of the passive variety, which has enabled Toshiba to include an impressive four pairs of free 3D glasses.
As usual with a Toshiba TV, the 42L7453DB is stuffed full of picture adjustments and calibration tools. These include the sort of stuff required for a pro-level calibration such as white balance, colour and gamma management. The 42L7453DB also provides control over all its key picture processing elements, letting you adjust the strength with which stuff like the motion processing, automatic backlight adjustment and noise reduction is applied.
There are a number of recommendations we’d make to anyone trying to optimize a 42L7453DB – mostly to do with trying to get the best out of its rather limited black level response.
First, perverse though it sounds, avoid the trio of ‘Hollywood’ picture settings, since while these aren’t bad where colour tones are concerned, they suffer with very uninspiring black levels – not least because they don’t let you use the TV’s Adaptive Backlight feature.
Using the Standard preset for normal daytime TV viewing you can probably get away with its default settings, which create an extremely bright and colourful picture well suited to bright rooms. Using the Standard mode at night, though, especially if watching a film, you’ll need to ramp the backlight all the way down to its 30 level, and we suggest setting the Adaptive Backlight feature to its Low setting (anything higher can lead to distracting brightness fluctuations).
With HD footage you should turn off noise reduction, as it softens too much detail out of the picture. You could experiment with the Resolution sharpness booster if a sharp picture is your thing, though personally we felt it introduced a bit too much picture noise for comfort.
Finally, after extensive experimentation, we generally decided against using the motion processing tools when watching 2D movies, as they can generate the occasional glitch. However, they’re more useful with 3D, where judder is more of an issue – though there are other issues to consider here, which we’ll discuss in the 3D performance section.
Let’s do the bad news first. Namely that, as suspected given the 42L7453DB’s IPS panel, native black level response is very average. Unless you knock the backlight setting way down when viewing in low-lit rooms you’ll find dark scenes looking greyed over and unconvincing. This is unfortunate, of course, because it means you basically have to remove a huge amount of that extra brightness Toshiba is so proud of.
It’s also a shame because at the point where the backlight has been set low enough to make dark scenes look convincing, quite a bit of shadow detail has been crushed out of the darkest corners, leaving them looking empty and flat.
In this shadow detail respect the 42L7453DB seemed slightly less able than its bigger counterpart, the 47L7453DB. That’s not the only difference either, for we also saw more slight backlight clouding on the 42-inch model – particularly over a section of the top left of the picture.
Follow our set up advice and you can get black levels looking respectable. But you can’t get them close to the best we’ve seen from some rival non-IPS panels this year.
One other odd point to mention here is that we found it almost impossible to spot the impact of the local dimming engine that’s supposed to be working inside the 42L7453DB. On the upside this means we didn’t see the sort of light blocking problems around bright objects that you can get with some locally dimmed sets. But nor do you really feel the extra contrast range and image dynamism local dimming is designed to deliver.
In most other respects the 42L7453DB performs well. Colours look natural, balanced and free of blocking or striping artefacts (at least with HD), though tones can feel slightly muted during dark scenes as a result of the black level shortcomings.
Motion is well handled with 2D too, with little loss of resolution over moving objects and minimal judder. Things aren’t so good with 3D, but we’ll cover that in the next section.
Pictures aren’t generally the sharpest we’ve seen, especially if you opt against using the Resolution system. But this does mean they avoid the noise that can characterise screens that focus heavily on sharpness, making for a more immersive experience.
Finally, pictures really are intensely bright and colourful when you’re using them in bright conditions and so don’t need to remove so much backlight intensity, making the set an unusually strong set for use in very bright environments like kitchens or conservatories.
3D Picture Quality
The 42L7453DB is a mixed bag with 3D. The key passive 3D benefit of no flicker remains intact, and it’s great to see so little of the screen’s brightness and colour richness being lost when you don a pair of the passive glasses.
Detail levels are high for the passive format too, and the relative smallness of the screen also means you don’t really see the jaggedness around bright edges that can affect larger passive 3D screens.
However, the 42L7453DB’s 3D images are also more prone to crosstalk ghosting noise over bright background objects than many passive 3D TVs. What’s particularly odd about this is that the ghosting seems for the most part to be fairly localized to the left side of the screen, reminding us of similar localized crosstalk witnessed on some of LG’s TVs this year.
The 42L7453DB struggles a bit with motion when showing 3D too. Even with the 3D Judder Cancellation feature active rapid motion can take on a rather billowy quality. The Scene mode can reduce this, but instead you’re left with some quite distracting haloing and flickering processing artefacts.
One other flaw noted with 3D is the potential for lip-sync errors to creep in for some reason.
While it doesn’t set any new standards, the 42L7453DB’s audio is better than you might expect from its slender frame. The Labyrinth speaker design definitely helps the set produce a more expansive, better rounded mid-range than we’d typically hear from such a slim set – something that helps it handle dialogue very effectively while giving action scenes room to expand into, so they avoid the flat, insipid feeling associated with many thin TVs.
Really deep bass can sound a bit boxy, really dense trebles can sound a touch harsh, and the soundstage doesn’t spread far beyond the physical confines of the TV chassis. Plus there are the 3D lip synch issues noted earlier. But still the 42L7453DB’s audio is comfortably above average overall.
Other things to consider
If you’re considering attaching a games console to the 42L7453DB, we have seriously good news. Our tests revealed the 42L7453DB to suffer with under 20ms of input lag when using its Game preset – one of the lowest measurements we’ve ever recorded. So your gaming should be completely unaffected by any delays in pictures being reproduced on the Toshiba’s screen.
Should I buy a Toshiba 42L7453DB?
If you’re looking for a mid-sized TV to go into a fairly or very bright room, the 42L7453DB is a great option thanks to its extreme brightness and colour potency. Perhaps unsurprisingly the set struggles to contain this extreme brightness as well as we’d like when you want to watch contrast-rich content like your typical film in a darkened room, though. So it’s not the best option for serious movie fans.
Its exceptionally low levels of input lag make it a potentially good screen for serious gamers, though, and its MediaGuide Replay feature is a definite selling point.
There are some interesting stand out features on the 42L7453DB – most notably its MediaGuide Replay system, low gaming lag and intensely bright pictures – that could be reasons enough in themselves to pick a 42L7453DB over rival TVs. However, if your main interest is in watching movies, its contrast issues may force you to look elsewhere.
Scores In Detail
- 2D Quality : 7/10
- 3D Quality : 7/10
- Design : 8/10
- Smart TV : 8/10
- Sound Quality : 8/10
- Value : 8/10