Review Price £1,799.99
Toshiba 55WL863 - Features and Performance
Finally, in a bid to make the 55WL863 more attractive to the AV enthusiast market, the CEVO engine powers a new autocalibration system. Cough up an extra £250 or so for Toshiba’s TPA-1 kit and you’ll get yourself a colour and light meter that plugs into one of the 55WL863’s USB ports and automatically calibrates your picture settings in conjunction with gamma and colour test signal sequences initiated from the TV’s onscreen menus.
While this is a great idea on paper, though, we can’t envisage many people spending so much on the calibration accessory. Even though it does produce a discernible boost in the accuracy of pictures as measured by video industry standards.
We’re also unconvinced that many mainstream users will actually like the ‘accurate’ pictures the 55WL863 produces, given their lack of dynamism compared with many of the TV’s out of the box presets. (We base this comment on our experience of trying and failing to persuade many friends and family members to use accurate picture settings instead of the more dynamic ‘out of the box’ settings.)
Final features of the 55WL863 worth mentioning are its attractive operating system, based around a well-realised ‘dual wheel’ presentation, and Toshiba’s Places online system.
Places is also very well presented, with good use of high quality graphics and some useful efforts at personalising the online experience to different users in your home via such tools as individual email accounts and favourites lists. The set even carries a built-in camera and face recognition software so that it can, in theory, recognise who’s using the TV and automatically adjust the Places settings accordingly.
However, this camera is of very low quality and so struggles to deliver accurate identifications. Another issue with the Places system right now is that it could do with more content. Highlights are the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and subscription services from HiT Entertainment, The Cartoon Network and Box Office 365. But overall content levels fall some distance short of what you can find on rival online systems now. You don’t even get Twitter or Facebook apps (yet) in the Social section of the Places interface. Here’s hoping Toshiba can add plenty of new services to its cloud-based service sooner rather than later.
It’s also aggravating that you can’t access the BBC iPlayer or YouTube apps through the Places menus, instead having to access them separately from the TV’s main menus.
And so, finally, we get to the 55WL863’s performance. Does all the CEVO Engine hype result in noticeably better picture quality? As a matter of fact, yes. At least within the context of Toshiba’s usual standards.
Particularly impressive is the set’s contrast performance. Bright, colourful scenes look intensely vibrant at one end of the spectrum, but dark scenes also enjoy very good black level depth.
What’s more, these convincing blacks are produced without having to sacrifice so much brightness that lots of shadow detail gets lost. In fact, if you leave the set’s LED control system on, the 55WL863 is capable of delivering really quite bright punchy colours and dark bits within a single frame.
A number of Toshiba’s TVs this year have suffered with inconsistent backlight problems. So it’s a huge relief to find the 55WL863 only very slightly affected by this distracting phenomenon. Keep the backlight set lower than its ‘60’ setting, and the most you’ll see is some faint backlight spillage jetting in from each corner during very dark scenes – a small price to pay for the image’s outstanding and consistent dynamism.