Toshiba recently announced its re-entry into the European TV market with a series of televisions, the pinnacle of which is the 65-inch X97 OLED.
Toshiba is pitching the new series of models as being "mid-market" - aimed at price-conscious but ambitious shoppers, so we're expecting to see a number televisions at affordable prices. That's pretty much how Toshiba positioned the Regza family before, but now there's UHD and OLED to contend with.
The X97 is promising to bring a sensational viewing experience with a depth, colour and realism that matches that of the high-end TV brands.
Toshiba X97 TV preview: Display
- 65 inch, 3840 x 2160 pixels, OLED
- No HDR
Using OLED technology, the X97 promises deeper and darker blacks than conventional LED TVs by switching off each pixel's light. This gives better light control than a normal arrangement where you need a backlight system.
OLED also means a wider colour gamut, the display manages 1024 shades per colour and shows 99% of the DCI-P3 colour space. All this means that the TV can display a wider range of colours including otherwise unseen reds and greens and a variety of natural hues, which should deliver on the OLED promise that many are looking for.
As well as the Ultra HD or 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels), the Toshiba X97 uses motion estimation and motion compensation technologies to offer a smooth transition between scenes. For gaming, this model also boasts a response time of under 1ms, similar to that you'd expect from a dedicated gaming monitor, which sees Toshiba hitting a couple of key specs.
The elephant in the room, however, is the lack of HDR support. HDR is the latest standard in television, bringing even more brightness and contrast to your content and has very much been the buzzword in 2016 and 2017. The lack of HDR support makes the X97 something of an oddity: it's all about offering an OLED panel, albeit without meeting the latest standards.
That could be a barrier to Toshiba when faced with the falling prices of older TVs that do support those standards - such as the 2016 LG OLED B6, which can be picked up for around £2300 on Amazon, at 65 inches.
We had some time viewing the X97 at the Toshiba launch event and it's hard at this stage to give a definitive opinion on whether the TV lives up to the quality standards you might expect. Having said that, the colour range and contrast we saw was impressive and the difference between the dark blacks and the bright whites was very noticeable.
Toshiba X97 TV preview: Design
- Brushed aluminium stand
- Bezel-free design
As a flagship model, the X97 is an impressively thin and bezel-free TV designed to offer edge-to-edge viewing and an immersive watching experience.
However, being placed in the mid-market means you're not going to get a wallpaper-thin display you can mount flat against the wall. The depth of the X97 accommodates the weight of the screen and the various inputs, but it still results in a sleek and stylish design which will fit nicely into any modern home, from the front at least.
The back panel gives a slightly dated feel to this television, with a slightly cheap-looking plastic housing and the presence of a SCART input. The remote control design is also a tad underwhelming and alludes to a cheapness that doesn't fit this model.
From the front though, it's a different story as the big and bold design gives the impression of quality. Toshiba also opted for a sleek, urban chic look that includes a brushed aluminium stand with a minimalist finish – just the green power ring on one side and the Toshiba logo on the other. The result is a certain style which rests easy at the right price point.
The thin panel and sleek design does mean that audio is a separate issue as there is no room for speakers on the front and they have to be housed around the back instead. This model, like every TV in the new range, features DTS TruSurround HD audio as standard, meaning you can be sure of a viewing quality that includes a great clarity of sound to match the impressive picture. We didn't get a chance to test the audio properly at the event, but with DTS support onboard there's bound to be plenty of punch to the sound to match the picture quality.
Toshiba X97 TV preview: Connectivity and features
- 4x HDMI, 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, SCART
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
- Video on demand services
The X97 has a range of inputs that includes four HDMI connections, three USB (including one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0) and a single SCART input. This opens the TV up to a wide range of compatible devices, even if the SCART connection feels a little dated by current standards.
Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections also give access to Toshiba's smart portal allowing viewers to connect to catch-up TV and on-demand services that include 4K Netflix, Youtube, BBC iPlayer and more. There's also the promise of Amazon Video capability in the near future, though no timeline on when that will happen just yet.
A built-in Freeview Play tuner for the UK means there is plenty of viewable content right out of the box. Screencasting and mirroring from your mobile phone or tablet is also supported, as is playback of video files via a connected USB device.
Another feature of the X97 is the ability to play, pause and record live television straight onto a USB stick plugged into the back of the TV.
We weren't able to play with these features at the event, but if they live up to the promise then there should be plenty to see and do with this television, even straight out of the box.
The result is a nicely rounded and capable television, but with a suggested retail price tag of £4,000 we're not sure how it will compete in a market with HDR-capable TVs, including some OLED, available at lower price points. Toshiba's omission of that key spec could turn buyers off in this competitive market, especially if that current price turns out to be true.
Nonetheless, we're looking forward to seeing how Toshiba's new device stacks up against a growing list of rivals.
The X97 will be available in September.
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