Toshiba’s big news at CES was Cell TV. Okay, so Toshiba showed off Cell TV last year, but then it was more of a proof of concept in a shiny box, and Toshiba kept that shiny box inside a glass case, well away from journalists’ grubby paws. At CEATEC 2009 Toshiba launched Cell TV in Japan, so it was good to see it announced for the US and European markets at CES today.
As the name suggests, Cell TV is driven by the Cell Broadband Engine chip, as has been seen in the PlayStation 3 for the past couple of years. The Cell chip was a joint development between Toshiba, Sony and IBM, so it was always on the cards that Toshiba would roll it out into its products, but how the power of Cell would be utilised was the question. The answer to that question is that Cell will be heavily utilised in Cell TV, with the most extensive array of TV processing features yet seen.
First up in the list of picture processing features is True Super Resolution+ which will upscale any SD content to Full HD 1080p resolution. Toshiba claims that this upscaled content will be almost indistinguishable from a real 1080p source, but as always, I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve seen it in action.
Next up is Net Super Resolution+ - this is similar to True Super Resolution+, but it has been designed specifically for upscaling low resolution streaming video from the Internet. Obviously this highlights Cell TV’s Internet connectivity, and assumes that you’ll want to watch IPTV on your big screen. Assuming that you are the type of person that wants to watch YouTube on a 65in screen, Net Super Resolution+ should make the video look better, even if the quality of the actual content is as poor as ever.
ClearScan 480 takes the 60fps source (in the US at least) and creates a 480fps output. In reality this is actually a 240Hz system, but whereas existing 240Hz systems are often 120Hz systems with black frame interleaving applied, ClearScan 480 creates 240 real frames and then applies BFI to create the 480Hz output.
But the big news with Cell TV is 3D. There’s no doubt that 3D is the buzz word at this year’s CES, but Toshiba is trying to push the concept a little further. As well as being able to process and display 3D source content, Toshiba claims that Cell TV will be able to convert any 2D source materiel into 3D. As always, I’m pretty sceptical of claims such as these, but Toshiba insists that the processing power provided by the Cell chip will allow ANY source - whether that be a TV signal, a Blu-ray or even a video games – to be converted to 3D in real time.
The Cell TV 3D system will utilise active shutter 3D glasses, and with the 480Hz technology, will push a 240Hz signal to each eye, which should eradicate the eyestrain that has plagued 3D systems in the past. As well as displaying content in 3D, Cell TV’s user interface could also be presented in a 3D environment, with full gesture control. When this will happen wasn’t confirmed, but Toshiba was showing off its gesture control interface at last year’s CES, so I imagine it will find its way into Cell TV sooner rather than later.