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Toshiba 55ZL2

The next generation of TV is here; Ultra HD and glasses-free 3D

Toshiba 55ZL2 review
The 55-inch Toshiba 55ZL2 is the first commercially available TV in the UK with 4K resolution and glasses-free 3D

Although it doesn't adopt the Smart Hub 'home page' approach that's serving Samsung and LG TVs so well this year, the Toshiba 55ZL2 is still impressively easy to use, considering how cutting edge it is.

Its 3D mode kicks in automatically, for instance, and you're always reminded to run a Tracking check so you can't accidentally forget to optimise the screen for each viewer's position.

The on-screen menus, meanwhile, are reasonably attractive in their presentation, and their concentric wheel layout seems to be a very easy to follow and concise way of quickly providing you with access to all the features the TV has to offer.

The sub-menus behind the main selection icons are a touch bland visually, but they get the job done.

Toshiba 55ZL2 review

The menu system for the Toshiba Places online services is terrific, meanwhile, with bold, colourful, easy to follow graphics, and a brilliantly logical layout. The only irritation is the way you have to quit Toshiba Places to play BBC iPlayer or YouTube material, because for some reason these haven't been integrated into the main Places infrastructure.

The biggest bones of contention with the Toshiba 55ZL2's operating system are that it's trickier to network with PCs than many rivals, and that the remote control isn't very pleasant at all. Partly because it feels crowded and not helpfully organised, but mostly because of the annoyingly fiddly sliding metal cover at the bottom end.

This is supposed to keep rarely used buttons out of sight when you don't need them, but it mostly just makes the remote uncomfortable to hold and generally a bit fiddly.


Perhaps helped by the fact that the Toshiba 55ZL2 has a fairly chunky rear end by Edge LED TV standards, its sound really isn't bad at all. The speakers manage to keep dialogue reasonably clear even during loud action scenes, and they don't phut or distort even under pretty extreme duress.

Toshiba 55ZL2 review

The TV struggles to deliver a rich sense of bass, though, despite having what appears to be fairly large woofers on its rear. And this means the mid-range sometimes feels a bit overcrowded. But this is true of almost all other flatscreen TVs too, and actually the Toshiba 55ZL2 sounds better than most.


Clearly no TV costing £7,000 (about $11,215) could ever sensibly be called a bargain. But then let's be fair: the Toshiba 55ZL2 is no ordinary television. It's the first domestic TV ever to deliver 3D without the need for glasses, and it's also the first domestic TV ever to give you a 4K resolution - the latter of which feels like a genuine and mouthwateringly spectacular glimpse of the future of TV.

Toshiba 55ZL2 review

The problem is that unlike the recently released 4K projector, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES, which supports 4K playback from PCs via HDMI, the Toshiba 55ZL2 doesn't appear to provide any way of enabling normal users now or, crucially, in the future to actually get the full benefit from its 4K resolution, at least with video.

So with its 3D flawed and its upscaled-to-4K HD images impressive but certainly not nearly as brilliant as the set's real 4K images, the Toshiba 55ZL2's £6,999 (about $11,215) price seems rather a high one to pay for something that's in some ways an exercise in frustration.