This colour subtlety is joined, too, by an immense eye for detail and textural nuance, making many HD images look breathtakingly intense and immersive. Indeed, sometimes even 2D images look 3D thanks to the sense of depth created by the sheer accuracy of the Toshiba 46YL863’s HD images.
It’s great to find, too, that the exceptional clarity of the picture doesn’t fall down when things get moving. The panel clearly has a fast native response time (it’s a native 200Hz job with four times blinking backlight, producing a claimed ‘800Hz’ speed figure), for even if you don’t bother with the motion processing circuitry there’s only the very slightest loss of resolution over moving objects. And if you apply the motion circuitry on its lowest setting the blurring becomes even more reduced without, crucially, the picture starting to look processed or excessively ‘video-like’.
More good news finds the intensity and brightness of the colours being underpinned by one of the best black level responses yet seen from an edge LED TV. Provided you don’t succumb to the undeniable temptation of running the set’s backlight too high, dark scenes are only very slightly affected by any greyness. Even better, there’s markedly less trouble from backlight inconsistencies than we’ve noted on a number of Toshiba’s other current TVs. Yes, the corners can look just slightly brighter than the rest when watching really dark scenes, but it’s sufficiently subtle if you’re sensible with the backlight level as to be only very occasionally distracting.
Turning our attention to standard definition - which still plays a big part in most people’s TV lives - the CEVO Engine continues to earn its corn. For the 46YL863 does a quite excellent job of remapping standard def fare to the screen’s full HD resolution, adding obvious clarity and detail while simultaneously processing away source noise. Even the poorest quality Freeview standard definition channels end up looking half decent on the 46YL863 - an achievement that borders on the miraculous, at times.
CEVO Engine’s presence is also joyously felt to some extent in the 46YL863’s 3D pictures. The available processing power allows Toshiba to apply its Resolution detail-boosting system even to HD 3D sources - and the impact it has is stunning. Basically, it makes 3D pictures look so sharp and detailed that ‘ordinary’ HD just doesn’t look like HD any more!
Philips’ 3D TVs are able to deliver a similar effect, and we saw enough during our recent visit to Sony in Japan to know that some of their 2012 3D TVs will offer HD 3D clarity boosting too. But the key thing about Toshiba’s system - apart from the fact that it works so well - is that it’s available now on a 46in TV that costs just £999.
But... there had to be a but, didn’t there? Unfortunately the astounding clarity of the 46YL863’s 3D images is sadly undermined by that dreaded nemesis of active 3D technology: crosstalk. The double ghosting phenomenon appears disappointingly readily on this Toshiba set, especially when watching ‘side by side’ 3D sources like Sky’s 3D channel.
It’s hard to understand why this is happening given the power that’s behind the 46YL863’s images, but crosstalk is definitely there for all to see.
Let’s wrap up, though, on the high the 46YL863 overall deserves. For extremely unusually for an exceptionally slim TV, it’s capable of producing a really convincing sound performance. Playing a big role in this is a built-in subwoofer, which ups the TV’s ‘rumble’ response while also taking a lot of pressure off the main speakers, leaving them freer to produce a cleaner, more open and more detailed mid and treble range.
The 46YL863 is a genuinely important product for Toshiba. Over the past few years the brand has become increasingly associated with the relatively low end of the TV market, earning a reputation for delivering good quality budget sets. But with the 46YL863 it’s made a serious bid for the high end again - and aside from some 3D crosstalk, the results are spectacular. A feat made all the more impressive by the fact that you can now get this ambitious TV for less than a grand.