Review Price £1,799.99
The 55WL863’s combination of brightness and good black level response helps it produce mostly excellent colours too. Tones look well-saturated and rich, but also, crucially, enjoy the sort of blend detailing and tonal range that we now recognise as distinguishing the best TVs from the average ones. It’s likely in this level of finesse that the CEVO Engine makes its presence felt.
HD images look extremely sharp and pure, while standard definition pictures enjoy some of the best upscaling around, resulting in improved sharpness and detailing without accompanying noise. Here again – and in the remarkably good upscaling of online video services too – can surely be felt the presence of the CEVO Engine.
Another notable success of the 55WL863 is its motion performance. For even using the TV without its ‘Active Vision M800’ processing system active, it’s striking how little motion is affected by either judder or blur. There’s no harm in experimenting with the M800 system if you feel so inclined, mind you, as it’s actually one of the better examples of such systems. But AV enthusiasts will still be glad to hear that you don’t have to use the motion processing systems if you don’t want to.
The only significant issue we had with the 55WL863’s 2D performance was that we struggled to get a totally accurate red colour out of the screen. But this is pretty small beer, all things considered.
It’s great to find many of the 2D strengths carry on into the 55WL863’s 3D playback too. Toshiba’s 3D glasses (none of which are included for free, sadly) knock less brightness out of images than those of any rival brands, leaving colours looking rich, dark areas looking detailed, and general brightness and punch levels looking much higher than you get with most active 3D TVs.
Also pretty remarkable is how sharp full HD 3D Blu-rays look on the 55WL863 thanks to the CEVO Engine’s 3D Resolution processing. Engaging this feature leaves 3D images looking more spectacularly full of detail than we’ve ever seen them look before. Awesome.
As you might expect from the strengths just described, there are times when the 55WL863’s 3D images are the best we’ve ever seen. So it’s hugely disappointing to find so much good work dented by the extent to which the 55WL863 suffers with crosstalk noise. Signs of the double ghosting noise are routinely visible over all sorts of 3D material, but are especially common and noticeable during dark scenes and when watching side by side 3D from Sky.
We were under the impression that the CEVO Engine had elements of crosstalk reduction in its processing pocket, but if this is the case it doesn’t work nearly as well as the CEVO Engine’s other attributes.
Playing a few console games through the 55WL863 reveals it to be a very engaging screen indeed, at least in 2D. Contrast levels are rich, colours are dynamic, the image is sharp, and best of all input lag measured in at around 28ms - not enough to seriously damage most people's gaming performance.
TVs as excessively thin as the 55WL863 generally don’t produce anything substantial in the audio department. But Toshiba’s new flagship TV is a gratifying exception, as it manages to deliver surprisingly high volume levels without sounding harsh or compressed. This is a clear indication of a decently open mid-range that also makes it easier to ignore the fact that there isn’t a great deal of bass to be heard.
Toshiba’s bid to add a high-end, enthusiast-friendly TV to its 2011 range has proved a mostly thundering success. The 55WL863 really is a superb TV, delivering some of the best picture quality yet seen from any LCD TV, as well as a good feature count. There are even moments where the 55WL863’s 3D performance breaks new quality ground.
Toshiba needs to improve its online services and reduce its 3D crosstalk noise before the 55WL863 could be considered an absolute classic TV, but it’s still quite a triumph for Toshiba and one that all but the most dedicated 3D fans would be foolish to ignore.
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