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Toshiba 55ZL2 - More Picture Quality and Verdict

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


There are, though, still some significant barriers to becoming totally invested in the Toshiba 55ZL2’s glasses-free 3D experience. For starters, backdrops and objects in the far distance almost always look a bit soft and out of focus. Also, the picture generally betrays a few signs of the physical structure of the lenticular lenses used on the screen’s surface to produce the 3D effect - including a couple of areas of really distracting wavy lines on our test sample.

Sit still

Finally, if you move your head more than around 6in from the point it was at when the TV tracked your position, the image shifts out of focus dramatically. And it has to be said that having to sit stock still rather flies in the face of the ‘free’ sensation of not wearing glasses.

Overall the glasses-free 3D effect feels very clever, but still ultimately more like a work in progress than the sort of high quality finished article a serious cinephile might spend £7k on.

Toshiba 55ZL2

Looking beyond the Toshiba 55ZL2’s Quad HD and glasses-free 3D skills, its picture performance is generally strong. As with Toshiba’s more mainstream Cevo Engine sets, the YL863 and WL863s, colours look exceptionally bold and rich; black levels are impressively deep and only marginally affected by edge LED’s backlight consistency issues, and motion looks clear and reasonably fluid.

The Places to be

Having been unable to resist getting more or less straight into assessing the 55ZL2’s groundbreaking pictures, we ought to quickly cover a few other features of the set before we wrap up. First, it’s equipped with Toshiba’s Places online service, with its familiar attractive menus but lack of content versus rival platforms.

It can also play a wide range of multimedia files via USB sticks or DLNA-enabled PCs, and is well equipped with picture calibration tools, including colour management and gamma controls. The TV can even calibrate itself via Toshiba’s TPA-1 colour meter-equipped auto-calibration package - though you’ll have to add £200 or so to the 55ZL2’s price if you want to bag yourself a TPA-1 pack.

Toshiba 55ZL2

The 55ZL2 is a surprisingly pretty TV considering how much cutting edge tech it has crammed inside, while its revolutionary picture efforts haven’t been used as an excuse to forget about audio. In fact, the 55ZL2’s soundstage is more punchy, dynamic and natural sounding than that of the majority of slim TVs.

Finally we measured the 55ZL2’s input lag to see how it shapes up as a potential gaming screen. And using the game mode we managed to get a figure of just 34ms - entirely acceptable for such an advanced TV.


There’s a part of us - the part that has already fallen in love with 4k/Quad HD - that wants to praise the 55ZL2 to the rafters. For in its full 4K glory it produces pictures the likes of which we’ve never seen before from a TV.

Toshiba also deserves credit for working so hard to make its glasses-free 3D performance better than expected.

However, the glasses-free 3D system is still far from perfect and worse, the 55ZL2‘s lack of support for 4k via its HDMI ports means that hardly anyone will actually ever be able to experience its 4k joys for themselves outside the confines of a shop.

So decent and, indeed, groundbreaking though the 55ZL2’s Quad HD upscaling processing might be, ultimately we can’t help but think that if we owned a 55ZL2, we’d forever be sat there feeling the pain of knowing that, digital still photos aside, we’ll never be able to see it running at its jaw-dropping best. And feeling pain after spending £7,000 is not a feeling we feel able to recommend, however bittersweet that pain might be.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • 2D Quality 9
  • 3D Quality 6
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 5


September 4, 2011, 11:18 am

"..we just didn't believe it would really happen. Partly because no other brand was sounding as if they thought their glasses-free 3D technologies would be ready for at least another five years,.."

I have noted in my TR comments that at last year's Farnborough Air Show I had seen large Phillips glasses-free 3D tvs being used to show off the wares of aerospace companies. They certainly were not pants.

So no big deal but great to see Toshiba kicking the ball rolling. Hopefully the rivals will be bringing theirs out by Christmas 2011.


September 4, 2011, 11:11 pm

Sounds promising - I might even get interested in 3D tv if this works and is available at a reasonable price....


September 5, 2011, 12:21 pm

Now if only all television manufacturers had waited and released glasses-free sets instead than perhaps 3D may have had somewhat of a chance to succeed. I can see a lot of upset early adopters sitting at home with their goofy looking glasses staring in envy at this.


September 5, 2011, 9:00 pm

Try this: Philips Demos Autostereoscopic (Glasses-Free) 3D Display with 150-Degree 3D Viewing Angle @


Was TR at IFA2010?

"Pleasing news for all you 3D sceptics out there - Philips is set to launch the world's first glasses-free 3D TV as early as 2013.

"That's according to Maarte Tobias of Dutch company Dimenco, which is developing the lenticular glasses-free technology on Philips' behalf.

A working prototype of this TV is on display in the Philips hall at IFA, and it really is truly impressive." - By James Rivington of techradar.com, September 2nd 2010.

See more just type "Phillips glasses-free 3D" in the Google search bar.


September 5, 2011, 9:06 pm

Philips glasses-free 3D hits the UK, 15 July 2011

"Philips glasses free displays are available in the UK after a distribution agreement between MMD, marketer and reseller of Philips-branded LCD monitors, and 3D media organisation, Wonderworks Media.

"The Philips display will be one of the main attractions at the Wonderworks 'Visual Theatre' in London."

@ http://www.inavateonthenet.net/article/43515/Philips-glasses-free-3D-hits-the-UK.aspx

Autostereoscopy explained @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autostereoscopy


September 6, 2011, 5:28 am

It's completely the wrong approach. Forget TV's, we need lasers projecting images directly into our eyes!

Until we can get the picture piped directly into our brains at least.

The kind of people who might buy a set like this are unlikely to want to compromise on image quality, or neck rigidity.


May 16, 2012, 3:01 pm

The displays Philips produce are for public signage - so ideal for trade shows like the Farnborough Air Show, but entirely rubbish in the home. What Toshiba is doing is very different to that, especially with their viewer tracking. In fact, Philips started producing autostereoscopic trade show displays in about 2007/8.


May 16, 2012, 3:11 pm

Really, truly, this Toshiba is trying to do something totally different to the displays you're talking about. None of the previous auto-3D displays have seriously been meant for anything other than signage/marketing, and are extremely clunky, think and heavy, not to mention incapable of producing 2D images of any quality.
More information about 3D screens for signage/promotion here: http://www.inition.co.uk/3D...

Martin Daler

May 16, 2012, 11:27 pm

I love how so called 3D TVs always, always, always use that hackneyed "image bursting outside of the bounds of the frame" idea to tout their 3D abilities, when sadly the bounds of the frame is one very obvious hard limit that they are unable to breach - becasue of course they are not 3D but merely stereoscopic.

If one day they do invent true 3D TVs what, I wonder, will they call them, since they have already 'used up' the 3D moniker? 4D?


May 17, 2012, 11:54 am

I agree with Bugblatter. The Simplest Solution is the Best Solution.


July 30, 2012, 10:40 am

It is little bit expensive. I know it is the first glasses-free TV in industry, but the 3D feature is not the most important feature of a TV. TVs should be bought for high resolution, big screen, smart functions, design as these features are used every day. 3D feature is used only sometimes and I'm not going to pay £7,000 for it. I would rather add little bit more and pay for LG's OLED TVs. They have slim design, gorgeous look and easy passive 3D glasses too.

Claude Lamontagne

September 24, 2013, 11:40 pm

glass-free 3D is not for tomorrow. Too bad because I own one (with glasses) and it's very good. I don't understand why sports especially tennis don't go in that direction...

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