First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Toshiba 46TL900A LED TV
Toshiba’s LED TVs appeal to European buyers and the value-conscious
- Good picture quality
- Smooth motion control and 3D
- Excellent feature-set and power consumption
- Smart features aren't as polished as competitors
- Minor picture quality flaws
Toshiba's attractively priced TL900A is an interesting competitor in the Smart TV market, with integrated services targeted somewhat towards a European viewing market. It's got good picture quality and a competitive feature-set, and while it's not quite as polished as Korea's best we think it's a good value buy.
Price$ 1,539.00 (AUD)
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The Toshiba TL900A is a mid-range LED TV that’s available in 40in and 46in sizes, with a feature-set that’s competitive with similar models from Sony, Panasonic, LG and Samsung. It’s a reasonably cheap television that’s built to a high standard, with good picture quality and a simple unpretentious design.
Toshiba TL900A: Design, setup and features
Toshiba has made a big step forward with this year’s design language for its televisions. We’ve liked the simple and clean design of previous Toshiba televisions like the WL700A, but the TL900A slims down the bezel and introduces a glass base and two-tone finish.
The TL900A’s screen is clean, with an anti-glare finish that does a relatively good job of blocking out bright light sources and reflective objects behind the screen — in this aspect it’s a welcome departure from high-end screens from companies like LG, Samsung and Sony that sacrifice smart design for style and colour vibrancy by going all-out with glossy finishes.
The screen’s brushed silver bezel is reasonably thin, and is finished to a high standard. The lower bezel contrasts against a glossy black strip that hides a pair of space-saving 10 Watt speakers.
All the TL900A’s buttons are hidden behind the screen, clustered around the back with the TV’s input ports and connectors. Toshiba has elected to keep physical buttons to a minimum — there’s only power, volume and a source toggle switch, on the TV’s rear left side between the quick-access USB, HDMI and headphone audio outputs.
Distributed across the back and side — respectively facing directly away from the TV’s chassis, and out towards the TV’s left — are the TL900A’s range of audio/video connectors. On the side you’ll find two USB ports, a lone HDMI and its accompanying 3.5mm headphone output, while the rear has three more HDMI, component A/V, SCART (a European standard that can be broken out to VGA, component, or composite with an appropriate cable), optical digital audio, VGA, an Ethernet LAN port, and the antenna jack.
The TL900A includes a wireless LAN adapter in the box, letting the TV connect to your house’s Wi-Fi network directly. The adapter is $39.95 separately. The adapter also supports Wi-Fi Direct, letting you connect a compatible smartphone, laptop, tablet or other portable device directly to the screen to share media without any cables.
The Toshiba TL900A includes a remote control that’s a little bigger and bulkier than other televisions on the market. It’s easy enough to operate, with clear button labels or icons where appropriate. Being a 3D TV, the TL900A includes a single pair of active shutter 3D glasses. Additional glasses are $129 each on Toshiba’s website.
The TL900A is easy to set up. The stand, which offers around 45 degrees of left-to-right swiveling motion, connects to the TV with a total of eight screws, and since the Wi-Fi adapter is included all you’ll need to hook up is the antenna and power cables. We had the TV up and running and connected to our wireless network within ten minutes.
Toshiba TL900A: Smart TV
Toshiba is different from Samsung, Sony and its other Australian competitors in that the TL900A and other locally-released Toshiba televisions are based upon European models. As such, they've got some video-on-demand, music-on-demand and news services that are skewed to European tastes — this isn't necessarily a bad thing, and might even appeal to some buyers who have European roots.
Toshiba's Places service is made up of several different categories in the vein of Sony’s Internet TV channels — there’s a Video places with YouTube, DailyMotion and European movie service Viewster, a Music place with Aupeo streaming internet radio and pay-per-view iConcerts, a News place with multilanguage Euronews and France 24 international news services, and a Social place with account access for Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. There are also weather and games services.
Toshiba TL900A: Picture quality and performance
Toshiba has generally been a quiet but steady performer in the LED television space in previous years, delivering panels with generally good picture quality that don’t have any significant problems or positives that distinguish them from competing models.
The TL900A performs best when it’s showing content at its native 1920x1080pixel Full HD resolution #&8212; we ran through Avatar and The Dark Knight and found that the screen was able to display a generally good amount of detail, with appreciable contrast in both dark and bright areas of The Dark Knight’s difficult night-time scenes. This speaks to the TL900A’s good default calibration and quick dynamic contrast brightness adjustment.
Up-scaling of DVD resolution and compressed media files (480p and 720p MKV files, playing through the TV’s USB interface) is also impressive, with smooth and slightly softened picture quality that’s good for a mid-range LCD or LED-backlit television.
The TL900A handles fast motion very well for a 100Hz-rated LED TV, with very little blurring visible during our critical viewing of some Formula 1 broadcast TV and the wide tracking and panning shots of the Planet Earth Blu-ray.
3D content is also reasonably displayed, with the TV’s bundled glasses syncing up with no problems and providing a good performance of Avatar 3D and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 3D. We noticed only minimal levels of cross-talk during Avatar’s fastest-moving scenes, and a 3D depth effect that’s comparable with other 2012 active 3D competition. We still prefer passive 3D — Toshiba has a passive 3D set in the VL900A — but the TL900A is competent as far as active 3D is concerned.
Where the Toshiba TL900A meets its limitations is in the display of difficult, high-contrast material, especially at lower resolutions. If you’re looking at the rolling credits at the end of a movie, for example, with fast-moving white-on-black test, you’ll be able to see the TL900A’s backlight bloom and some haloing around the text — a function of the screen’s relatively basic backlight design, using LEDs around the screen’s edge rather than directly behind the panel.
The TL900A’s flaws are generally only easily visible when you’re looking for them under specific display conditions. For normal viewing, and most movie-watching, the screen is more than capable and we have no problem recommending it to all but the most discerning viewers.
Toshiba TL900A: Conclusion
Given that it’s only a $1500 television at Toshiba’s RRP, and you can find it for a mere $1100 in retail stores around the country, the Toshiba TL900A looks like very good value. If you’re looking for a mid-size television and don’t want to pay a premium for one of the top three television brands, give the TL900A some serious consideration.
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