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.
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.
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.
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.
As a result, the 3D effect, particularly Blu-ray 3D, was thoroughly convincing. But you do have to be on the same level as the TV, or the polarisation fails. If you’re standing, looking down on the screen, both eyes will see both images. However, from wide angles to the side the 3D held together nicely.
So get the kids up off the floor and line your family up on the couch so that you’re all at the right level.
The other downside is that when watching 3D you will need to sit a bit further back than with active 3D TVs, otherwise the loss of resolution becomes visible in the form of what look like black scan lines.
On balance, at the present state of technology I think I prefer passive 3D TVs to active ones. The 3D just looks so impressive – deep and rounded – with the near perfect rejection of crosstalk that the loss of resolution is worth it.
Why don’t you get into a store and have a look, and see if you feel the same way.
Warranty: Two years
Image: LCD; 119.3cm diagonal; 16:9 native aspect, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels; 450 cd/sq m brightness; 7,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, panel response time 8ms
Inputs: 2 x composite video, 0 x S-Video, 2 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
Outputs: 1 x optical digital audio, 1 x 3.5mm headphone
Audio: Stereo, 3 Speakers (1 subwoofer), 3 x 10 watts
Features: 3D; Analog and HD digital tuners built in; four HDMI inputs; Audyssey EQ and Dolby Volume for sound; ClearScan 200Hz; LED backlight; 1080p24 support; Network support including DLNA, YouTube, Facebook, Picassa; USB multimedia support
Supplied Accessories: Remote control; swivel desktop stand; 4 x 3D eyewear
Dimensions (WHD): 1,124 x 682 x 29mm (without stand)
Weight: 19.7kg (without stand)
Energy Rating Label: 7 stars, 317kWh per year