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Toshiba 55ZL2 - Quad HD and 3D Pictures

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


Making the Toshiba 55ZL2's lack of current and, seemingly, future Quad HD source compatibility all the more tragic is that when it's fed a 4k image, its pictures are simply staggering. Fears that you might only appreciate the impact of so many extra pixels of picture information on projection-sized screens are instantly put to bed, as the 55ZL2's 55in screen proves amply large enough - even from an entirely standard viewing distance - of underlining just why we feel that 4k rather than 3D represents the long-term future of TV.

Quad HD changes everything

The Quad HD demo reel, which contained a variety of real video footage ranging from street scenes to woods and inviting-looking pools, looks nothing short of revolutionary, and incredibly tangible, for want of a better word. Basically the extra detail in the picture makes you forget you're watching a TV and transports you almost viscerally to the place you're watching.

Toshiba 55ZL2

You don't have to be an experienced TV reviewer or even AV enthusiast to see the difference, either; we invited in a procession of perfectly ordinary and in some cases tech-cynical men and women to see the Toshiba 55ZL2 in all its 4K glory, and not a single one failed to be gobsmacked by what they were witnessing. Honestly, it's an experience that really does have to be seen to be believed, and instantly allows the 55ZL2 to claim the finest picture quality ever seen on any TV.

Of course, though, with fancy dedicated 4K servers and non-standard digital interfaces not readily available to the world at large, for most people the 55ZL2's 4K talents will be restricted to its ability to upscale standard and normal high definition sources to its quad HD native pixel count. So it's just as well that with HD sources, at least, the upscaling system works quite well.

Full HD into Quad HD will go

Activating Toshiba's Resolution upscaling engine - driven by the set's built-in, proprietary and uber-powerful Cevo Engine processors - HD pictures receive noticeable extra detailing and crispness, without noise levels being aggressively increased. It must be said that upscaled full HD pictures aren’t nearly as pure and just plain beautiful as native 4K ones, but any improvement on the full HD images found on lower-resolution TVs has to count as a significant justification for at least a chunk of the 55ZL2’s price.

The upscaling engine fails to bridge the gap particularly well between standard definition and the panel’s 4k resolution, though, as even the Cevo Engine can’t calculate the vast amounts of extra pixels of image data it needs to without leaving the image looking somewhat noisy and soft.

Toshiba 55ZL2

Shifting our gaze to the Toshiba 55ZL2’s other innovation, the glasses-free 3D, it must be said right away that Toshiba has improved the technology hugely since we first saw it in action. The painfully obvious vertical ‘seams’ in the picture have gone, and 3D Blu-rays look much more detailed, less soft and just more "HD" than they did before. The sense of depth in the image has been increased, too, without sacrificing foreground sharpness, and the fact that you’re not wearing glasses means that 3D images enjoy just as much colour dynamism and extreme brightness as the screen delivers in 2D mode.

That you don’t have glasses on also makes the experience seem much less artificial and vastly less fatiguing on your eyes. Toshiba has even managed to cater for as many as nine different seating positions for the 3D effect, with a built-in camera on hand to track where each viewer is and automatically calculate the 3D picture output accordingly.


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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