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Toshiba 47VL863B review

Toshiba's 47VL863B is its first passive 3D TV. Can it take the fight to it's active wielding rivals?

For

  • Excellent calibration tools
  • Fuss-free 3D
  • Neat styling
  • Places smart TV portal

Against

  • Suffers from a limited contrast range
  • 3D BDs lack detail

Whatever issues you might have with passive 3D technology, the fact that it lets you watch 3D with flicker-free, cheap-as-chips glasses is a family-friendly boon.

So, it's no surprise at all to find other brands buying in LG's passive 3D tech to use in their own 2011 TV ranges, and first up is Toshiba's fairly-priced 47VL863B, which is also passably easy on the eye with its slim bezel, trim rear and minimalist black finish. But it does feel rather flimsy.

It's very well connected for the price; four HDMIs cater for your HD and 3D needs, while a LAN port will access stuff on a DLNA PC or Toshiba's new 'Places' online service. Twin USBs can either play back multimedia files or add Wi-Fi via an optional dongle.

Toshiba's Places smart TV online service shows potential, but content is currently very limited. For video you're restricted to YouTube, the BBC iPlayer, Daily Motion, Viewster, Woomi, plus a trio of subscription services. As for apps, you can access the Flickr photo site and Facebook is coming soon, but that's it. I'm hoping Toshiba will add more content to the Places 'cloud' soon.

Solid specs

The TV boasts a 200Hz system for sharper and more fluid motion; adjustments to the TV's static gamma settings; two-point and 10-point white balance calibration; and even a colour management system for adjusting the RGBCYM colour components. Surprisingly, though, it doesn't include 2D to 3D conversion among its many options.

The 3D picture quality is a chip off the LG passive block, which is no bad thing. Watching with passive glasses certainly feels relaxing with no flickering, practically no crosstalk (unless you're viewing from more than about 15˚ above or below the screen), more brightness and richer colours. And as the 47VL863B ships with four pairs of spex, a whole family can watch 3D right away.

Lines and jaggies

On the downside, 3D Blu-rays don't look quite as detailed as they do on active sets, and curved edges can look rather jagged thanks to the filter on the screen. You can also occasionally make out the horizontal line structure of the 3D filter, if you're sat too close to the TV.

While the 47VL863B's 3D pictures are generally persuasive, its 2D pictures give more cause for concern; dark scenes look grey and lack black-level depth.

Also, the screen's backlight level looks patchy and inconsistent during, for instance, the night-time mermaid sequence in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Reducing the image's backlight and brightness only leaves dark areas without shadow detail.

In many other ways the 47VL863B is pretty good in 2D. Colours are punchy and dynamic without becoming cartoonish. Fine detail from HD sources is good too, and motion largely avoids the blurring and resolution loss that can affect LCD TVs.

Standard-def pictures can look a tad noisy, but they can also be made to look unusually sharp via a built-in 'Resolution+' processing system.

Meanwhile, gamers will appreciate the 47VL863B's lowly 35ms of input lag, which shouldn't negatively impact performance.

The 47VL863B's sonics fall prey to the usual flat TV woes of a lack of bass and some rather harsh trebles during action scenes. But Toshiba's set is hardly unique in this.

The set's contrast issues stop me giving it a whole-hearted recommendation. However, its 3D pictures are fun and friendly, and there are times when its 2D images look very nice, too. And it's cheaper than LG's 47LW550T equivalent...

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Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-C (MPEG4), DVB-T (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports4
Product FamilyREGZA VL863
3D Type3D
Brand NameToshiba
Screen Size119.4 cm (47")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178°
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
EthernetYes
Analog TunerNTSC
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Operating Power Consumption163 W
Standby Power Consumption300 mW
Dynamic Contrast Ratio7,000,000:1
RMS Output Power20 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
VGAYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand750 mm
Width with Stand1115 mm
Depth with Stand285 mm
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Number of USB Ports2
PC StreamingYes
Internet AccessYes
Media PlayerYes
3D Glasses RequiredYes
Enhanced Refresh Rate200 Hz
Brightness450 cd/m²
Comb Filter3D Y/C
Sound SystemDolby Volume, Dolby Digital Plus
Product SeriesVL863
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesDigital Noise Reduction, Ambient Lighting, Teletext, Auto-off, Hotel Mode
ManufacturerToshiba
Product Model47VL863
Product Name47" Smart 3D LED TV
Product LineREGZA
Manufacturer Part Number47VL863B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.toshiba.co.uk
Marketing Information

The REGZA VL8 series combines the latest 3D, LED and Smart TV technologies to offer a complete TV solution. It delivers sharp, vivid, lifelike 2D or 3D images with incredible depth for an immersive viewing experience, and with 4 pairs of 3D glasses included the whole family can enjoy the magic of 3D. The VL8 offers internet TV access to YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Facebook as well as a range of other online content from Flickr, Aupeo internet radio, Cartoon Network and more through the Toshiba Places internet portal accessed via your TV at the touch of a button.

Package Contents
  • 47" Smart 3D LED TV
  • Instruction Manual
  • Stand
  • 4 x Pairs of 3D Glasses
Response Time8 ms
SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)22 kg