The 47L7453 is the best-specified 47-inch HD TV Toshiba is offering for 2014; step up from the L7453 series and you get into the brand’s upcoming UHD/4K models.
Among the 47L7453’s key features are an ultra bright direct LED panel with local dimming, Toshiba’s new Tivo-esque MediaGuide Replay feature, and passive 3D playback.
The 47L7453 is cute. Particularly nice is the relatively slim, open bar-style, round-cornered silver desktop stand, which contrasts smartly with the glossy black finish, trim width and sharply angular lines of the screen bezel. Build quality isn’t anything special – there’s a slightly plasticky feel to everything. But you don’t really notice this unless you’re carrying it around for some reason...
Toshiba told us at the launch of the L7453 series that it firmly believes there’s still a strong market for ‘premium’ HD TVs despite the arrival this year of aggressively priced native 4K TVs. It’s all about hitting the right balance between features, AV quality and, above all, price. And on paper, at any rate, the 47L7453 seems to get this balance more or less right, offering a genuinely expansive range of features for what looks in the circumstances like an aggressive £799 price.
Connectivity, for starters, is strong. Four HDMIs are on hand for digital video and MHL smart connect duties, while multimedia support is taken on by a duo of USBs and both LAN and integrated Wi-Fi network options. The USBs support playback of a wide variety of picture, music and movie file types, as well as enabling you to record from the TV’s tuners. More on this presently.
The network options support DLNA streaming – albeit only via a slightly cumbersome system – as well as access to the Internet via either an integrated Web browser or Toshiba’s ring-fenced Cloud TV platform.
Cloud TV has evolved quite considerably in some areas from last year’s debut. We’ll be looking at the latest system in more detail in a dedicated feature soon, but in the mean time the key developments are a new two-tiered approach offering different levels of functionality to each level of Toshiba’s TV range, and, on the relatively high-level 47L7453, MediaGuide Replay.
This latter potentially very attractive feature turns your telly into a sort of Tivo box by enabling you to instruct your TV to automatically record (to connected USB HDD) programmes you’re interested in – including whole series. And as with Tivo, the TV’s choice of what to record can be based on an ongoing analysis of the sort of programmes you like to watch.
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The interface Toshiba has introduced for the MGR feature is quite attractive too, and there’s no danger of you forgetting the feature is there as it appears constantly at the heart of your home screen.
Of course, MGR only works if you go to the trouble of adding an external USB hard drive to the TV, a fact which presents this key attraction with a potentially significant practical (if not financial) barrier to entry. Maybe Toshiba could see its way to building some recording memory into future MGR-enabled TVs, even if it's only a few hours worth?
The 47L7453 has some interesting things going on with its picture specification too. There’s an IPS LED panel at the TV’s heart, delivering the usual slight colour, response time and viewing angle benefits versus rival panel technologies. The panel is illuminated by a direct LED lighting system, where the LEDs are mounted directly behind the screen. And Toshiba assures us there’s a local dimming system at work amid this direct LED system, despite the fact that this doesn’t actually make its presence felt in the 47L7453’s picture performance in the way we would normally expect it to.
The 47L7453 employs a new backlight system together with a new panel structure that reduces inter-pixel spacing to boost picture brightness by a claimed – and startling - 75 per cent (up to 700 nit) compared with 2013’s equivalent models. This sounds a good idea overall, given the potential benefits to shadow detail and colour handling the extra luminance should produce. But we’ll only fully embrace it if it manages to deliver its brightness boost without compromising contrast.
The 47L7453 follows a number of other premium LCD TVs this year by using a panel with a wide colour gamut, offering a claimed 14% wider colour space than you get from one of Toshiba’s standard LCD panels.
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No well to do Toshiba TV would be complete without some form of processing intervention by the brand’s CEVO Engine system. And the level of CEVO influence on the 47L7453 is actually pretty high. For instance, as well as driving the local dimming system, the dual core-driven CEVO Engine here runs a new picture restoration system designed to put back colour and brightness that’s usually compressed out during the creation of broadcast images.
CEVO has been applied to the 47L7453’s audio for the first time too, delivering two key tricks. First there’s a new ‘sound separation’ technology that can split background noise and dialogue so you can control each audio ‘plane’ individually – which we guess will sound like manna from heaven to karaoke enthusiasts, or people who just can’t take the idea of another Phil Neville World Cup commentary.
CEVO Audio’s other key trick is DTS Premium Sound, which can convert standard stereo audio into virtual surround sound.
One further audio innovation on the 47L7453 is its so-called Labyrinth speaker design, which uses a coiled long-duct system to provide more physical ‘space’ for the sound to breathe. This should result in much more bass than Toshiba’s flat TVs have managed before.
Finally on the processing front the 47L7453 boasts an ‘AMR 1500’ motion processing system, delivering a pseudo 1500Hz image via a combination of a native 100Hz panel, backlight scanning and frame interpolation.
Wrapping up the 47L7453’s key features is its passive 3D engine. It’s nice to find that Toshiba has supplied four pairs of free 3D glasses with this TV versus the mere two pairs many rivals are opting for this year.
When you first fire up the 47L7453 you’re taken through the complexities of set up - auto-tuning the Freeview HD tuner, setting up your network connection etc – via a reasonably helpful onscreen guide complete with a ‘flow-chart’ layout so you always know where in the process you are.
Toshiba is one of the best brands around when it comes to providing oodles of picture calibration flexibility, even on its low-end models. So it’s no surprise to find such key tricks as colour management, gamma control and white balance fine tuning on the relatively high-end 47L7453. In addition you get control over various parts of the set’s video processing, such as its Adaptive Backlight system, Toshiba’s Resolution system for boosting sharpness, and a new Scene feature that introduces extra brightness manipulation to make motion look more natural.
This feature also leads to a reduction in brightness that’s actually quite beneficial to black level response, so it’s definitely worth experimenting with - even though we personally ended up opting not to use the feature as it tends to exaggerate the brightness shifts of the Adaptive Backlight system.
There are noise reduction tools too, as you would expect, but we’d suggest you turn these off completely while watching HD, as they tend to make pictures look soft.
Toshiba has provided more picture presets than most brands do, and some of these – Standard and Hollywood Day – are quite useful without too much tinkering. If you’re watching a film in a dark room, though, we’d strongly recommend you reduce the backlight setting to below its 50% level to bolster black level response, and set the Adaptive Backlight system to its low level (anything higher results in over-aggressive brightness shifts, while turning it off severely reduces the set’s contrast).