Elsewhere, we’ve already looked at a newly released 47 inch Toshiba 3D TV. So why look at a newly released 46 inch Toshiba 3D TV? Pretty much the same, surely?
Well, in many ways it is. But it also differs in two major ways. First, the Regza 46WL800A under review here uses a quite different 3D technology. And second, it has a completely unique feature: facial recognition.
Facial recognition? Yes, indeed! The TV has a webcam-style camera built into the bezel at the bottom and it watches you! Actually, it can watch up to eight people.
Various picture setup profiles can be associated with different people so it can automatically switch to an individual’s preferred picture and sound mode. And with the recordings the TV can make (if you plug in USB HDD), it can be set to optimise the list so that the recordings you made are most prominent.
As for the 3D tech, this TV uses the conventional ‘active’ method, with which the left and right eye images are shown in sequence, and the liquid crystal shutters which form the lenses of the 3D eyewear open and close in time, allowing each eye to see only the image intended for it. It also provides a 2D to 3D converter.
The 47 inch Toshiba we reviewed recently on GadgetGuy.com.au uses the competing passive system and doesn’t offer 3D conversion.
The TV is network capable, and includes built in WiFi, which is immensely convenient for those without an Ethernet port handy to their home entertainment equipment. It offers YouTube, Picasa Web albums and Facebook from the Internet, and support for the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) multimedia support for content residing on your home network.
As mentioned, it will also record the TV programs it receives to an attached USB Hard Disk Drive.
When it came to 2D content, this TV’s performance was very much the same as that with the 47 inch model – excellent.
The black levels were very dark, and even full black screens exhibited almost no unevenness is their (low level) brightness. The LED backlight adjusted its brightness according to the picture content, and was able to apply different brightness levels to different parts of the screen.
That in turn led to lovely, accurate colour. The TV screen itself was of the anti-reflective type, rather than a mirror finish, so it leant a soft finish to the picture.
3D content was a different matter. It did everything that it was supposed to in terms of handling Blu-ray 3D, and the side-by-side broadcast 3D format, and also with converting from 2D. But it was all let down by crosstalk: the leakage of the left eye image into the right eye, and vice versa.
This was significant with all 3D content, to the point of distraction. Most of the content had visible ghosts. If your main desire is for effective 3D, go for Toshiba’s 47 inch passive model. It is enormously better on that front.
The facial recognition system required a little setup. In this process it shows you a picture of what the TV’s camera sees, and attempts to identify a face. Having done that, you accept the four red dots it uses to frame your face. Then you can give it a text name for later identification and set how personalised you want the TV to be for you. You can also call up the picture it has captured.
Incredibly, it worked. At least with me and the family member I roped in for the exercise. I gave her a wacky set of picture defaults to make things obvious, and when she sat down in front of the TV, they were dutifully applied. I thought the system a little too ready to tell you what it was up to with brightly coloured text boxes, but nonetheless as an exercise in demonstrating technological mastery, it was impressive.
The face recognition technology certainly makes the Toshiba Regza 46WL800A TV an interesting, perhaps, unique TV. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you’d find this useful in your domestic situation.’
As for 3D, though, Toshiba needs to work on its active technology a bit. For the time being, its passive 47 inch model delivers a far better result.
Warranty: Two years
Contact: Toshiba Australia, 133 070, www.mytoshiba.com.au
Image: LCD; 116.8cm diagonal; 16:9 native aspect, 1920 x 1080 pixels; 450 cd/sq m brightness; 7,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, panel response time 4ms
Inputs: 2 x composite video, 0 x S-Video, 1 x component video (supporting progressive scan and HD), 1 x D-SUB15 RGB, 4 x HDMI, 3 x stereo audio, 2 x USB, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x WiFi
Outputs: 1 x optical digital audio, 1 x 3.5mm headphone
Audio: Stereo, 3 Speakers (1 subwoofer), 3 x 10 watts
Features: 3D; 2D to 3D conversion; Analog and HD digital tuners built in; 4x HDMI inputs; Audyssey EQ and Dolby Volume for sound; Face Recognition; ClearScan 400Hz; LED backlight; 1080p24 support; Built-in WiFi; Network support including DLNA, YouTube, Facebook, Picassa; USB multimedia support; Recording to USB Hard Drive
Supplied Accessories: remote control; swivel desktop stand; 1 x 3D eyewear
Dimensions (WHD): 1067 x 653 x 27mm (without stand)
Weight: 15.7kg (without stand)
Energy Rating Label: 6 stars, 349kWh per year