Toshiba has refreshed its L7 Series TV line-up for 2014 and Pocket-lint has seen a pre-production model in action prior to the release of the sets soon.
Coming with the L74 designation - last year's range was L73 - there will be 42, 47 and 55-inch models available, and Toshiba is calling them Premium 2K TVs. What's that mean? Well, they are Full HD sets but with a few extra technologies to give them a more premium edge. The 2K thing is becoming more popular amongst TV manufacturers these days and we wonder if its not just a little confusing to customers, but we can see why it's been adopted.
Bar resolution, there are several new technologies added to this year's models to give them that "premium" tag. For a start, the LED backlight has been significantly improved year-on-year. Called Pro LED 700, it has a brightness of 700nit, which is 75 per cent brighter than the one used for last year's L7 models. Its benefits can certainly been seen in the white areas of a picture, which punch through and are more realistic in tone when compared side-by-side.
In addition, there is a wider colour gamut, which also improves realism in colour depth. And the CEVO picture processing engine has been tweaked to better realise colours and bright areas where the information has been heavily compressed by a broadcaster.
The company's proprietary Auto View technology is the same as with last year. It registers the ambient light in a room and adjusts the picture to suit. But with the wider colour gamut, it is more flexible in the results it can achieve.
Sound has also been improved, with an expansion of the down-firing stereo speakers. They have been redesigned to utilise more sound pressure and are 30W (two times 15W) instead of the L73's 20W output in total.
Modes for audio include DTS Pemium Sound and Sound Separation, which is an adjustable tech that allows you to effectively fade or increase voices over music or background audio. For example, don't like the commentary during football matches? Just slide the vocal ranges down. The same can be done for karaoke-style sing-alongs.
The user interface has also been redesigned and we noticed it moved much more speedily in our hands-on session. But the biggest addition to the smart TV-style functionality is MediaGuideReplay.
This feature is TiVo-like in its abilities. It will learn what type of content and programming you most prefer and then record shows that meet those parameters automatically for you to discover, even when the TV is in standby mode. There is only one tuner, so it will only do so when you're not watching something else and you will need to add your own external hard drive or USB memory stick to store the footage, but it is beautifully presented and we were told that the more you watch, the more the TV will learn what you like and be more accurate in its suggestions.
This metadata is all stored in the cloud, so the profile can be made very accurate over time. It even includes things like your favourite type of food based on the cookery programmes you watch most.
App-wise, the L74 range features all of the obvious streaming services, such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer. The TV also features passive 3D and comes with four pairs of glasses, although manufacturers are no longer making a song and dance about the tech.
In fact, Tatsuhiro Nishioka, senior manager of Toshiba's Global Marketing Department, Visual Solutions, didn't mention 3D at all. He did though say that "Premium 2K" is Tosh's major message this year, even though it was in at the ground floor of 4K TVs a few years back.
Ultra high-definition TVs are still too expensive, he explained, and they are really only settling into the end of the market over 50-inches. That's why there's a big gap still for quality Full HD sets. And at £650 for the 42-inch version of the L74, up to around £1,100 for the 55-incher, its hard to disagree.
There's certainly much to be said for its picture quality too, based on our initial viewing. Although we'll have to wait until the TV is in our test labs before we can give definitive viewpoints on the image fineries.