Ultra-High Definition 4K is slowly working its way into more and more consumer tech, and Toshiba's shown its hand with the introduction of its Series 9 4K televisions. Pocket-lint went to check out the full range of the latest tellies, including the 58, 65, and flagship 84-inch behemoth.
There's something to be said for a super-massive TV. It's hard for it to not be eye-catching and the Toshiba 84-inch Series 9 on display was loaded with a mix of tailor-made 4K content - plus Square Enix's next-generation E3 2012 show-off showreel - to best effect to show brightness, colour and smooth motion. The 800 AMR (Active Motion & Resolution) system did show off the aforementioned Square Enix demo's high frame rate to quality effect - it was smooth throughout though with so much virtual camera movement that our close-up giant-screen immersive viewing experience almost made us feel giddy.
Eye-catching though those elements may be, but we did find there to be some obvious edge brightness from the edge-LED illumination which even in reasonably low light - but not total darkness - was clearly visible to our eyes. The angle of view also isn't substantial without showing off these light peaks yet further.
In another demo Toshiba presented its 58-inch Series 9 TV's 4K upscaling capabilities against a similar-equivalent 1080p panel from 2012. We were hoping for a lot more: the CEVO processing engine's upscaling of the John Carter trailer clip produced all jaggy-edges and the level of image noise was considerably more pronounced than in the 1080p version. The brightness might have been more considerable on the latest Series 9 4K panel, but with those other issues rearing their heads, and given that there's no native 4K content yet on the market, it sounds like a hard sell to us. We're hopeful that there are a mixture of pre-sets and adjustments within the set to tone down and adjust the way the upscaling is achieved will be available - but no word as yet.
We weren't able to see any 3D footage, but Toshiba's Series 9 sets support active shutter glasses technology for 3D display.
Another element Toshiba was keen to push was the introduction of its Cloud TV service, similar to that of, say, Panasonic's Home Screen concept in its 2013 TV range. The Toshiba concept merges apps, dynamic Twitter feeds, personalised logins, parental controls and even a cross-service search mechanism into the one interface.
All that may sound very swanky but - and just like all the other competitors' interfaces we've seen so far - we just can't ever imagine that we'd bother to use the TV to check out a hashtag trend or need to login to find out recommended personalised content. We're more inclined to flick the on switch, tap a button to change channel and enjoy the televised content beyond all the computing-like malarkey.
However the apps do come aplenty: Netflix, Vimeo, Blinkbox, iPlayer, Skype and plenty more big guns are on board which is a definite strong sign. There's no LoveFilm as yet, but that could be a future install.
A Rovi-powered search system is also included which will crunch through all the data that's available to the system - whether via Freeview, iPlayer and so forth - in order to bring up specific search terms. A grand idea, but if data can't be provided - say, from a Sky box via HDMI connection, or with a closed-application that doesn't provide metadata to the system - then some things will be missed out. So it could be good, or it could be entirely washy.
There's also multi-screen connectivity and display which is compatible with Android and iOS devices that will certainly have its uses - it can be used to see what's upcoming on Freeview, set a series to record, change channel and so forth, all from the comfort of your smart device without disruptive menu screens on the TV itself.
Design-wise the Series 9 4K range has a proportionally small-ish bezel, rounded edges and reasonably slim profile. It's by no means the slimmest screen nor smallest-bezel set out there, but it's a far cry from some of the chunky edges of Toshiba TVs of old. A step in the right direction for sure.
Available in the summer, we're yet to be told any of the Series 9 TV prices, beyond that they will be "announced nearer launch" and "competitive". If the Sony 84-inch 4K TV is currently £22,500 we think the Toshiba will need to undercut that price by a fair whack to get a look in.