Price (RRP): $1,999
Toshiba’s new 47 incher, the 47VL900A LED/LCD TV sports a very special new feature: WiDi. What is it? What does it do? And how’s the rest of this TV?
Well, first, WiDi. This is short for Intel Wireless Display. New computers using Intel’s recent processors support this feature, which is simply the ability to reflect the screen from the computer to the TV wirelessly.
And that is, in my books, one very cool feature indeed.
Otherwise, this is a passive 3D TV with a very thin border, under 12mm from the edge of the picture to the edge of the body. Since the glass is flat to within a millimetre or so of the edge, the borders seem almost non-existent.
The passive 3D technology works by delivering the left and right eye views to the TV simultaneously, one eye on the odd-numbered lines and the other on even-numbered lines. Polarised glasses separate the images from the two. The glasses are light and cheap because they don’t use an ‘active’ liquid crystal shutter system. You get four sets of glasses included in the price.
The full high definition panel offers a contrast ratio of up to 7 million to 1 and has the ability to brighten and darken different parts of the screen independently.
The panel is compact, thanks to the thin borders, and a middling 42mm deep. The stand swivels for convenience.
Don’t worry about the apparent lack of a composite video input. This TV is clearly a European-orientated model, and so it is equipped with a Euro-SCART 21 pin connector. An adaptor is included with the TV so that you can plug composite video and analogue audio into this, which is always useful just in case.
But it should be noted that this and most of the other connections are placed flat on the back of TV, so to use them you will have wires poking directly out the back of the TV, limiting close-to-wall placement.
The two USB ports are side-ways pointing, though. You will probably want to use the bottom one for the included WiFi dongle since this is required for WiDi operation.
We’ve used WiDi before, but only in its DLNA version, which appears to use the home network.
Using this TV it appears it was based on WiFi Direct, in which the computer and the TV communicate directly through their WiFi capabilities. The DLNA type worked well enough, but with a massive delay of a good one second or so between you doing something on the computer and it being reflected on the TV screen.
On this TV the response was hugely faster, the latency down to perhaps a tenth of a second or less. That means that you wouldn’t want to use this display method for gaming or, probably, for high powered interactive work with a computer.
But for running a slide show, showing videos and that kind of thing the speed was good enough to allow an excellent user experience. The system worked up to the full 1080p resolution of the TV, allowing improved quality than that delivered by the 1600 by 900 pixel display of the test computer.
As a TV this was one fine unit. The colour performance was excellent, as were both the brightness and the black levels.
The 3D was excellent – better than the various active 3D systems – due to the lack of crosstalk or ghosting (in which left eye content leaks into the right eye and vice versa). The 3D depth was exceptional and watching 3D was a far less tiring experience than is often the case because the image was so clean to the eyes.
The only significant limitation was the reduced vertical resolution, which meant that it was better to sit a bit further away in 3D mode than you would with an active 3D TV.
The TV also offers a number of network features. These include a wide range of media playing capabilities from your network via DLNA (or, of course, from USB media), plus Internet based features.
These are organised by group under such titles as Music Place, News Place etc, and also cover games, social media and video. The parts of those that I sampled worked, but it was best on streaming. The responsiveness of such things as Facebook I found to be a little slow.
Far better to use your WiDi-capable computer for that kind of stuff, and feed its picture to the TV for viewing.
The Toshiba 47VL900A is a fine TV for 2D and 3D viewing, and offers some nice network extras. It really stands out, though, if you have a WiDi-capable computer and a desire to reflect its display on a big screen.