* Prices may differ from that shown
The 42WL863B TV was an impulse buy (and probably the biggest thing I've ever impulse bought!) but I saw it in the Next sale for £529 in December 2011. Their sales are always fast and furious, things are snapped up within seconds, so I bought it quickly and as soon as I had done I was a bit concerned that I'd made the wrong decision just because I didn't know much about 3D TVs, my only knowledge was from the cinema.
The TV is a 42 inch LED and 3D TV, the LED and 3D parts being the most important features that we were after as a family. The TV comes with a square stand to place it on (around 45cm x 25cm) so that it can be placed on top of a media unit. Alternatively, it has fittings on the back to fix to wall mount. It has 4 HDMI connections and is full HD (1080p). It is also a smart TV, meaning that with access to the internet it can be used to watch catch up TV through BBC iplayer or to watch videos on YouTube. The one thing it doesn't have is a full scart connection, something to bear in mind when connecting other gadgets like a DVD player or games console, a mini scart adaptor is required for these. It comes with a fancy slim remote control that has a silver cover that slides up and down to cover the buttons when not in use.
The TV is all black in colour, with a silver shiny Toshiba badge at the bottom. The first 'feature' is the touch screen on/off button, the heat from fingers turns it from on to off and vice versa. This is a good idea, although the time it takes the TV to come on isn't very good. The power immediately switches from red to blue when the heat from fingers is detected, but it takes a whole 15 seconds to bring up the picture to watch meaning I am sat twiddling my thumbs waiting - no good if we're in a hurry (eg when my husband is trying to catch the last few seconds of an important football match - this feature leaves him grumpy!). There is also another energy saving feature which we still haven't managed to work out how to change, despite changing a lot of options in the menu to try to amend it. The TV automatically powers off if it's left on the same TV channel for around 4 hours, annoying again when my husband watches back to back football matches.
Once the TV is on, we normally watch ours through the Sky+ HD box although the TV is fully integrated with Freeview, meaning that no set top box is required to watch channels such as BBC three and Sky News. Another alternative is watching via it's Smart TV feature. This enables any programmes on catch up eg BBC iPlayer to be streamed across the internet and directly watched via the TV. This wholly depends on the internet connection from your provider though - unfortunately we live miles away from the nearest internet exchange and receive a download speed of under 1Mb per second (rubbish) so it's never been much of an option for us to take advantage of this feature. The internet connection is wireless although it can be set to wired too.
The menu of the TV is quite futuristic looking and also gives the option of a Media Player. There is a USB connection on the side of the TV and this enables us to connect a USB stick and place photos onto the TV, for example to bore our family when we get back from our holidays with endless photos! Music and movies can also be played this way.
PICTURE AND SOUND QUALITY
The picture is crystal clear through our HD box. There are now quite a wide choice of HD channels through Sky and it is obvious to see the difference between the non HD channels and the HD ones - the picture is very precise and is particularly noticeable on sport for example where the crowd are much clearer, as well as the green colour of the grass on the football pitch for example. Everything is so much more defined. The picture on non HD channels though is also clear too and much better than our previous HD ready TV, the full HD has made a big difference. The sound quality is also clear, I usually leave it on around level 16.
Unfortunately, this TV requires active shutter glasses as it is an active type of 3D television rather than passive (although some websites state otherwise). The glasses from the cinema don't work a jot. The TV requires Toshiba's active shutter glasses (the FPT-AG02G glasses) and these cost £60 per go (we have two pairs) therefore effectively adding £120 to the cost of our TV as it was one of the reasons I purchased the TV and the 3D feature cannot be watched without them. Having looked today, they are available on offer at £40 in some stores but it's still a large extra cost to get full use from the TV. If it was a family of four viewing it would be £240 to cover the whole family at the price we paid! The glasses require recharging too - they last around 75 hours 'officially' between charges, I'd say ours only last about 30 hours. This was the real downside to impulse buying, I think perhaps I'd have opted for a passive 3D TV if I'd have known beforehand because it's an extra expense that we could have done without; as I understand the passive style glasses are far cheaper. These active glasses are also very bulky compared to the passive ones.
Because Sky only have one 3D channel, any 3D viewing has to be from their very limited selection unless we bought 3D DVDs. We watch things once though and never again usually so I prefer not to purchase any. We record films from the channel that we want to watch, but everything is repeated often. This is a real shame, because the functionality of the 3D makes fantastic viewing. We watched parts of the carling cup final for example a few months ago and at some stages it felt like we were part of the crowd, cheering on the players because the 3D quality is so precise. There are no 3D channels as far as I'm aware via the Freeview.
This is a good TV with some great features. The only minor things letting it down are the time it takes to switch on and the cost of the glasses which are very expensive to get use of the 3D feature. Having now owned a 3D TV for nearly 18 months, I have to say that we've not had half as much use from the feature as I expected. I don't know if this is partly due to the fact that the glasses are bulky and need recharging or whether it because (as with 3D TVs in general) 3D glasses are required for viewing and they are annoying when you're not used to watching TV wearing any.
The picture quality though through this TV is fantastic and I feel it is much better compared to similar TVs that we've watched at friends houses. The LED screen is also noticeably better than our previous LCD screen, it is so much more precise. I rate the TV four stars in total, with one coming off for the 15 seconds I waste each day waiting for a picture to pop up and the fact the glasses cost so much.
Thanks for reading :o)