The 46UL863B is Windows 7 approved and DLNA-enabled, allowing playback of photo, video and music files from networked PCs - and the same ‘flexibility’ is possible via the USBs. However, as with last year’s Toshiba TVs, the 46UL863B proves unable to handle nearly as many video file formats as we would expect. Again, this just doesn’t make sense coming from the brand that delivered Cell Regza and its Europe-bound CEVO engine spin-off.
The 46UL863B is rather more flexible when it comes to picture set up. There are a few presets, for starters, including day and night ‘Hollywood’ options, and a Hollywood Pro mode intended to emulate the results a professional installer might end up with.
If you fancy doing your own calibration, you’ll find a decent colour management system, an active backlight on/off toggle, a simple but effective black/white slider bar, and a fairly extensive static gamma adjustment range. Plus, most intriguingly of all, there are genuine colour/gamma calibration tools designed to work with an optional USB colour analyser pack Toshiba is supposed to be introducing.
None of these calibration packs was available at the time of writing, but in principal placing such in-depth calibration within reach of ‘normal’ end users seems a welcome move.
The potentially most popular innovation of the 46UL863B, though, is its motion and face detection system. A camera in the TV can spot if anyone is in the room and reduce the screen brightness if there isn’t, as well as being able to recognise up to four different faces, and automatically adjust accordingly the settings and account information in the Toshiba Places ‘area’.
Clever though all this sounds, the camera is of a pretty low quality, leading to fairly regular identification errors or failures, especially when the test room is either particularly bright or fairly dark. It is a feature that has potential, though.
As another sign of how the 46UL863 doesn’t follow all of its ideas through, though, the set doesn’t (currently, at least) carry Skype, even though this would seem a no-brainer given the presence of a built in camera.
The 46UL863B’s online features are actually pretty flimsy across the board. On the upside, the Toshiba Places interface is easy on the eye, and pretty well organised. Its attempt to offer a customised/personalised experience for each different user gives it a nifty point of difference too.
On the downside, bizarrely the BBC iPlayer and YouTube ‘apps’ aren’t included within the Toshiba Places menus. Or rather, if you select their icons from within Toshiba Places, you get a fussy list of onscreen instructions telling you that to access these features you have to exit Toshiba Places and select them separately from the previous, pre-Places menus. This is silly and lazy on Toshiba’s part, not to mention annoying.
The number of apps and features currently available through Places is surprisingly limited too. So far as video sources are concerned, beyond the YouTube and iPlayer options, there’s Daily Motion, Viewster, Woomi, Box Office 365, the Cartoon Network, and HiT Entertainment - the last three of which are subscription only. In other words, the amount of free video content available pales into insignificance besides some rivals - especially Sony.