The best Toshiba TV in quite some time
What is the Toshiba 55L7453?
We have to say that the pre-release marketing for the Toshiba L74 got us a little excited.The news that the company would be endowing its top end 2014 LED TV with a direct backlighting system certainly gives cause for optimism, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it should help with screen uniformity – issues with which we are failry intolerant – and secondly, it may just mean that the local dimming system is effective. Considering this is a Passive 3D TV and therefore highly likely to be possessed of an IPS panel, this might be a crucial factor in overall picture quality.
Here we have the 55-inch version under review but there is also the 47L7453 and 42L7453DB in the range, where the first two numbers of the product code represent the screen size in inches. The 55L7543D is presently available at a penny under a thousand pounds, which isn’t a great deal of money for a top-tier TV of this size. The L74 is packed full of CEVO processing enhancements and a full Smart TV suite so let’s set sail with Toshiba’s flagship TV.
Design & ConnectionsWell it’s nothing special to look at but then it’s hardly an eyesore either. The bezel surrounding the screen is narrow (1cm at top and sides/2cm at the bottom) and you get around 6cm clearance between the bottom of the base stand and the bottom edge of the screen, so not a lot of room to play with if you have a soundbar or centre speaker to accommodate. The cut-out style base stand is attractive but doesn’t have the capability to be angled.
The supplied remote control is big, bold and shiny. The advantage of the size is that you’re unlikely to misplace it and the buttons are easy to find but it is slightly unwieldy. The connection suite is solid but the three side-mounted HDMI ports are a bit too close to the edge for comfort. There is a fourth mounted on the back, and facing out, plus you get legacy video, digital audio, 2 USB, a VGA (rare) connection and a headphone jack. You also get internet connections of both the wired and wireless variety.
MenusThere’s only one new item in the 55L74’s Picture menus and that is ‘Scene+’ which promises to help with motion handling of ‘motion pictures’ so we’ll have to see how this one works out later on. Toshiba doesn’t shirk away from giving you a picture control, or two, to have a play with and there’s no shortage of calibration controls. Those include 2- and 10-point White Balance, a colour management system under the name ColourMaster and some pre-determined gamma responses hidden under the title Black/White level.
Toshiba’s new CEVO dimming system is activated by the Active Backlight Control setting with choices of High, Low and Off and you also get options for Colour Temp (Warm is best), ClearScan (motion interpolation) and Resolution+ to have a mess around with. We’ll look at all of them, in one shape or another, later in the review. One comment we’ll make before departing this section is that the menu system in the L74 seems far more responsive than we saw in the 2013 ranges, which is definitely a good thing.
The Cloud TV platform is greatly improved
FeaturesAs per the comment on the responsiveness of the menus, the same holds true for that of the Cloud TV platform. We’re in the early stages of giving that a workout at the moment but the early impressions are far more favourable than the comparable platform last year and the L74 has much to offer in the Smart TV arena. There will be a dedicated Toshiba Smart TV platform review to follow soon but we will offer it a cautious thumbs-up based on initial impressions and it seems very expansive.
We could have chosen any of the Hollywood Picture Modes for a decent out of box preset but we arbitrarily used Hollywood Day and took the following measurements at default settings.
The L74 defaults to a Low setting for the Adaptive Backlight Control (ABC) and it makes details near black very had to see. You can see at ten percent stimulation that gamma is way above the yellow target line, which means it’s a lot dimmer than it should be and one would need to shift the Brightness control up significantly to reveal the lost detail so it’s best to shut ABC down whilst performing any measurements. Greyscale wasn’t tracking too badly with a general excess of green energy present but delta Errors for greyscale were all less than five so nothing to get too up in arms about. As we can see from the CIE Diagram, top-right, everything except Blue was reasonably close to target but it was significantly under-saturated and too dim – as were most of the rest.
Considering the out-of-box results weren't too bad at all, it took an inordinate amount of time to make significant improvements using the tricky calibration controls. We were cursing them at times for being over-responsive, one minute, and the opposite the next but we got there in the end via a great deal of experimentation. Said testing revealed that the ColourMaster system yet again failed to live up to its name but the greyscale calibration had a positive impact on the colours too – especially with Blue – so it was no great loss.
At full stimulation levels you can see the Red is extremely wide of the Rec.709 standard for an LED television, which gives credence to Toshiba’s claims for the power of the CEVO lighting system but, as the saturation sweep measurements below reveal, it’s considerably tamer at less saturated levels. We’ve seen better saturation tracking recently but overall this isn’t too bad a set of results.
Black Levels, Contrast Ratio and Screen Uniformity
As we’d expect from an IPS, native black levels aren’t particularly astonishing. In fact without the dimming system engaged they were positively poor, coming in at about 0.22cd/m2 . That’s a black level some five times brighter than many of the LCD TVs we’ve tested in 2014 which has a negative impact on picture contrast. As we mentioned in the section above, the ABC control does kill some detail near black which then reduces the dynamic range but it does most certainly dramatically improve the perceived black levels, especially on nearly full-black screens. The result is that it becomes a toss-up between contrast and shadow detail and we cautiously opted for the former but you definitely don’t want to go above the Low setting else you’ll be crushing to degrees we really wouldn’t want to go to.
Even with ABC engaged, the ANSI contrast score from a 4x4 chequerboard pattern isn’t great at just 695:1 but the On/Off score is much better at close to 7,000:1. The truth of the matter is somewhere in between with actual content you would want to watch, and not patterns, so the Toshiba L74 ranks quite well here. As we’d hoped from the direct backlighting technology, dark screen uniformity was very good, save for a small patch of light bottom right. We’ll look at any other uniformity concerns later on.
CEVO dimming is good, if a bit over-aggressive
The new addition to Toshiba’s set of processing controls comes in the shape of Scene+ which seems to use a black frame insertion technique, akin to the process used in film projection at the cinema. And we like it as it adds to just an extra sense of smoothness whilst not flickering – like the Sony’s version of the tech – to virtually anything. It does come at the expense of some luminance but it’s easy enough to still go very bright by adjusting the Backlight control. We’re not at all keen on Toshiba’s motion interpolating ClearScan technology, in any configuration, however, as it adds a very unnatural sense to moving objects.
With or without Scene+ activated, the L74 had no tangible issues with 1080p 24 material and it was also able to pick up on 2:2 and 2:3 SD film cadences without issue. The video deinteralcing isn’t the strongest we’ve ever seen, which means you might occasionally espy some jagged edges on fine details with broadcast material but scaling of standard definition signals was generally quite good. The Resolution+ control is Toshiba’s version of per pixel luminance alteration to achieve a more standout picture and it works pretty well. It’s more subtle than some but it can give a shot in the arm to the likes of streamed HD content.
This probably isn’t the TV for anyone ultra-serious about online competitive gaming but the Toshiba L74 puts up a decent performance for gamers with a lowest input lag of just over 50 milliseconds. You will definitely need to select the Game picture mode, else be faced with near 185 millisecond lag but you can just about squeeze a palatable picture from it with a few adjustments here and there. We did detect some ghosting on high contrast action but nothing that overly troubled us.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 112W
Calibrated – Hollywood Mode: 108W
Calibrated – 3D Hollywood Mode: 199W
Toshiba 55L7453 Picture Quality - 2DIt has some little flaws but the Toshiba L74 is the best TV they’ve sent us for testing in quite some time. There’s a marked difference in contrast performance with and without the dimming controls engaged and it does come at the expense of losing some low-end detail should you choose to go with it. We to'd and fro'd with the controls and ended up using at the most gentle setting as it provided the most pleasing pictures over all, but this dimming system isn’t a sophisticated as some and there’s work to be done by Toshiba in getting the engine to more accurately analyse the individual elements of the picture. Still, it’s a step in the right direction as far as the panel technology is concerned and it will keep most more than happy.
The weekend prior to publishing this review allowed the L74 to show what it’s made of in the sporting arena. Four World Cup Quarter Finals and two Wimbledon Finals is as good a test as any we can think of and we have to say, bar a little bit of the expected motion blur, the 55L74 came out with great credit. There was an absence of the dirty screen effect we saw with many of the 2013 models and the generally excellent panel uniformity really does help. We’ll stop short of saying it contributes anything – because we shouldn’t be worrying about it in the first place – but at least there’s nothing there to detract.
Lovers of movies and TV drama won’t be disappointed either. The colour accuracy of the Hollywood modes ensures that those carefully set up shots are portrayed as intended, although certain skin tones could, at times, look a bit bleached and ever-so-slightly blue tinged. Other than that, there is very little to fall out with, from the motion handling to viewing angles and everything in between, this a very solid TV with which Toshiba can, and probably should, gain some decent market share with when you consider how attractively it is priced.
This is very good picture performance for the sums of money invloved
Toshiba 55L7453 Video Review
Toshiba 55L7453 Picture Quality - 3DPerhaps it’s the fact we’ve recently seen quite a few 4K TVs able to deliver full resolution to each eye, with their Passive 3D systems, that makes the L74 seem just a little low-res but, other than that, we have no real qualms about its performance here. As you would expect from a passive 3D telly, the Toshiba exhibits absolutely no flicker and the glasses don’t dim the image greatly. There’s more than enough luminance available in this panel to negate that, anyhow, and in fact we actually able to watch a little 3D on it during daylight hours – curtains were drawn, of course.
One of the other great advantages in passive technology is the lack of distracting ghosting/crosstalk that active shutter systems can sometimes produce and that was evidenced here in a presentation that was almost totally double-image free, even when the action was hotting up on screen and objects were flying about all over the place. Think of some of the early sequences in Gravity where the poop is heading fan-wards, and know that the L74 was able to reproduce them very well. By default, the 3D modes enable ‘3D Judder Cancellation’ in the Picture Menu but we’d recommend disabling that for your Blu-rays to avoid the dreaded super-smooth, soap effect. Toshiba includes 4 pairs of glasses in the box, too, so the L74 is a great choice for the 3D-luvin’ family.
- Great screen uniformity
- Colours are nice and accurate
- Dimming system is largely successful
- Smart TV platform now much slicker
- 3D is bright & easy to watch
- Dimming can crush some shadow detail
- Unreliable picture controls
Toshiba 55L7453 (L74) TV ReviewDespite this being Toshiba’s flagship Full HD TV, it’s not a designer-lead offering but the narrow black bezel and skeletal base-stand make for an attractive enough combination. You get a good set of connections, too, with 4 HDMI ports, a couple of USB inputs and both wired and wireless LAN. It’s definitely worth utilising the internet connection for Toshiba’s revitalised Smart TV system which is now a far more responsive proposition than what went before and features a load of streaming services, wide-ranging support for media files and a clever recommend and record feature built-in. It’s not quite as extensive, as some, but there should be enough here to keep most of you happy.
Toshiba have placed a lot of emphasis on the new CEVO powered dimming system inside the L74 and the attention is largely justified. It certainly elevates the IPS panel to contrast level performances on a tier above many of the same type but it does come at the expense of crushing some shadow detail so it’s not as sophisticated as some out there but, on balance, we felt it worth using. To add to the creditable black levels, colours were also very good although skintones could occasionally seem a little weak, but the generally excellent level of screen uniformity, generous viewing angles and decent motion handling are fair compensation.
We said it earlier in the review but it bears repeating, the Toshiba L74 is the best TV the company has produced in quite some time and, therefore, well worthy of its Recommended Award.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality8
Ease Of Use7
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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