We tried this system out, and for the most part were impressed by its cleverness (while being rather less impressed by its rather high cost). Colour tones post calibration seemed mostly accurate, and there was an impressive amount of detail and colour subtlety in the image.
However, it did seem to us that reds were a touch overcooked, and we have a sneaky feeling that many mainstream users will find the post-calibration image a bit too muted for comfort. Certainly there’s a sense that the ‘accurate’ pictures are only using a small amount of the screen’s potential ‘juice’.
Perhaps it’s as well, then, that the 46YL863 has plenty of tools at its disposal for tweaking pictures manually as well. These include a pretty wide-ranging colour management system, gamma controls, and white balance shifting. Not to mention multiple noise reduction and motion processing options.
These latter two tools should be handled with considerable care, as ever with heavy-duty processing tools. Though to be fair, presumably thanks to the CEVO Engine’s power, we generally found both the noise reduction and motion processing able to deliver their benefits without causing as many unwanted side effects as they tend to produce on Toshiba’s less powerful TVs.
The motion tools in particular are definitely worth experimenting with, at least on their lower power levels. Do make sure, though, that all noise reduction systems are deactivated for HD viewing if you want to enjoy the full impact of HD sources.
Heading into Toshiba’s Places online service before getting stuck into its picture and sound performance, we’re struck by the same mixed feelings experienced with other current Toshiba TVs.
On the upside, the presentation is delightful, thanks to the rich use of graphics and bold colours, and sensible grouping of services into social, video, and music ‘places’. Kudos, too, to Toshiba’s attempts to allow individual users to adapt the presentation and order of the Places systems to their particular needs by supporting multiple separate user ‘accounts’. The TV even carries a built-in camera with face recognition, so that the TV can automatically detect who’s using Places at any given time, and adjust its ‘front end’ accordingly.
It’s a pity this feature is hamstrung by the dismal quality of the camera, which frequently attributes the wrong name to the wrong detected face. But there you go. At least the idea’s a good one!
The biggest problem with Places is that it just doesn’t have enough content. The list of potentially interesting fare looks like this: Acetrax, Facebook, the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Aupeo, Viewster, Flickr, Daily Motion, Funspot, plus the Box Office 365, Cartoon Network, and HiT Entertainment subscription services. This is a pretty short list when you think of the hundred-plus services and apps now being carried by some of Toshiba’s rivals - and the paucity of content is merely emphasised by the attempt to divide what’s there into separate sections.
Basically, we can only hope Toshiba gets very busy indeed at adding more services as we slide through 2012.
The slightly disappointed feeling raised by Places is quickly dispelled, thankfully, by the 46YL863’s picture performance. Starting out with a variety of HD 2D sources from Blu-ray, the Freeview HD tuner, and a connected Sky HD box, we were hugely impressed by almost everything we encountered.
Colours, for a start, are little short of explosive, bursting off the screen with the sort of punch and vigour achieved by only the very best rival LCD TVs. What’s even more startling about this is that the vibrancy is delivered without making colour tones look unbalanced, uncomfortable, unnatural or short of tone/blend finesse. In fact, colours are delivered without a ‘stripe’ or ‘blotch’ in sight, providing stark evidence of the power of the CEVO Engine.