Toshiba's first passive 3D TV reviewed
4.3Overall Score
Price (RRP): $2229 Manufacturer: Toshiba

Toshiba’s major 3D TV fame is to do with the glasses-free 3D models it has under development. But that still seems to be a while away. In the meantime, it has released 3D TVs using both active and passive technology. This one, the Regza 47VL800A, is passive, and is lower in cost.

Features

The main element identifying this TV is its 119cm (47 inch) passive 3D panel. What that means is that all the odd-numbered horizontal rows of pixels have a polarisation treatment in one direction, and all the even-numbered ones in the other direction. Thus the alternate rows of pixels actually allow different kinds of light to be emitted. The eyewear has one of the lenses polarised one way, and the other the other way. So when you’re wearing the glasses, you see only every second horizontal row of pixels in each eye.

That means lower vertical resolution when you’re watching 3D (it makes no difference in 2D because you don’t wear the glasses). But it also means no flickering (active sets work by flashing their glass’ lens very rapidly between transparent and opaque).

The eyewear is the same as the RealD glasses you receive at 3D cinema screenings, and you get four pairs with the TV. Additional sets can be bought for around $10, which means it’s an economical enough proposition to have the street over to your house for 3D event screenings.

As a somewhat, but not entirely, premium model, this Regza gets a playback capability for USB, but no support for recording to a USB hard drive. You get excellent network multimedia support, plus YouTube and Facebook and Picassa web photo access, but none of the TV show catch-up services (such as ABC iView or BigPond Movies).

You do get 3D, including support for side-by-side broadcast 3D formats, but you don’t get a 2D to 3D conversion facility.

Nonetheless, it liked it.

Performance

All the multimedia stuff worked just as it was supposed to. If you need to be untethered from a physical network connection, the TV supports a USB WiFi adaptor (you’ll need a Toshiba one, my generic one didn’t work.)

As for the TV, there are two aspects of performance: 2D and 3D.

With both, this TV was a cracker!

For 2D, the black levels were excellent. The TV’s control circuitry managed the overall picture brightness, plus brightness levels in different parts of the screen, so as to give excellent black levels in the dark parts of the picture, even if there were bright parts elsewhere on the screen. The colours were suitably deep and intense when required, and the scaling of brightness from full white to full black was smooth, without any ‘crushing’ at either end of the scale.

No 2D to 3D conversion, but a perfect picture - with no crosstalk - from native 3D source material.

For 3D there was not a hint of that issue that troubles so many 3D TVs: crosstalk. This is where some of the picture intended for the left eye leaks through to the right and vice versa, allowing what appear to be faint ghosts to be seen.

There was none of that with this TV. It was as simple as that: there was none. The performance was so close to 100 percent that I’d say it was indistinguishable from perfection.