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Toshiba 65L9363DB 4K Ultra HD TV Review

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Toshiba's first forays in to 4K reveal some weaknesses that need addressing

by Mark Hodgkinson Dec 13, 2013

  • SRP: £3,600.00

    What is the Toshiba 65L9363DB?

    Ultra HD TVs are steadily becoming more affordable and more mainstream and Toshiba’s 65-inch L9363 is the most reasonably priced yet. Steve Withers got to look at the 84-inch version of this set recently but it looks like the panel inside the smaller sibling is made by another provider, so we can expect some substantial performance differences. From what Steve saw, there needs to be if the 65L9363 is going to cut the mustard. Time for a look at the latest 4K Toshi Monster.

    Design & Connections

    We like the stripped down appearance of the L9363 with its skeletal base-stand, which actually swivels, and the ultra-narrow black bezel, which is encased in a silver trim which is in turn matched by a flash of at the bottom. OK, it looks almost exactly like all the 1080p Toshiba’s we’ve covered in 2013 but we have no problem with that.
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Design & Connections
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Design & Connections


    The remote sports a similar colour scheme and is quite large by recent standards. That helps to provide nice, large buttons but also means it can be a tad unwieldy. We’re not too thrilled by the icon buttons positioned just above the directional keys, either, as they look like a glued-on afterthought.
    Toshiba 65L9363DB
    Toshiba 65L9363DB

    Connectivity options are fairly generous with three side-facing HDMI inputs with one to the rear but there’s no word from Toshiba if there will ever be a software update to allow support for 4K resolutions at more than 30 frames per second. You also get legacy analogue connections but we’d urge you not to bother with this TV if you’re only intent is to hook up your set to box via scart. There’s also an Ethernet port – as well as built-in WiFi - a headphone jack and a couple of USB ports.

    Build quality is good and styling is simple but attractive

    Menus

    The appearance of the new Toshiba menus is certainly attractive and easy on the eye, with a largely pale blue colour scheme but they can be very sluggish to respond and some of the planning could be better. For instance, setting the audio delay (something we’ll return to later) brings up windows covering almost the entirety of the screen making it next to impossible to set it correctly because you can’t see anybody’s lips!
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Menus
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Menus

    There are a couple of all-new UHD-centric options in the Picture Menu with settings for ‘Fine Texture Restoration’ and ‘Brilliance Restoration’ to accompany the usual basic parameters and a promising – if usually buggy – suite of calibration controls. We did uncover a bit of a bug whereby pressing the settings button on the remote would cause the TV to go in standby, should an appropriate period of ‘warm-up’ not have been observed. It would probably have been better to simply flash a, ‘system not ready’ message.

    Menus can be buggy and unresponsive

    Features

    Like the menu systems, the Smart TV portal has been given a tickle with the pretty stick but shares, and even outdoes them, in terms of unresponsiveness. The first couple of minutes of navigating around the ‘Toshiba Cloud’ can be truly tedious and we’d imagine many will be quickly turned off by the experience. Whether it’s a case of the processor not being up to it or it’s bad coding – or both – we’re not sure but it needs to be resolved as it otherwise obfuscates the content on offer.
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Features
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Features

    It’s not the most expansive Smart TV platform we’ve seen but there are some decent apps and services there. There’s the almost obligatory support for BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube and a really nice looking app for iOS which mimics the looks and functionality of the portal. You can also browse the web, which is a bit of a painful experience, to be honest, and there’s a built-in programme recommendation too. The platform and interface is in place, it just needs more apps and stability of software.

    Calibration

    Pre-Calibration

    We chose the Hollywood Night mode as a starting point but could just have well gone with either of the other two Hollywood presets and greyscale performance was quite impressive. There was a little too mych blue energy lower down and a slight over-emphasis of red nearer white but, otherwise, the 65L9363 was in fairly good shape. Colours, as we can see from the CIE Diagram, bottom right, were also quite accurate with under-saturations in red and blue of any real note.
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Calibration
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Calibration

    Calibrated

    Ever since Toshiba went down the auto-calibration route with the launch of the TPA-1 analyser, they’ve removed some control for ‘human’ calibrators, notably the Static Gamma option. The 10 point white balance controls can be used in their stead but since they don’t work properly we had to make do with the 2 point version and we were able to massage a very impressive greyscale from 30% upwards but the lower end gamma response is disappointing and likely to result in washed out darker scenes.
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Calibration
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Calibration

    At full saturations we were able to tune colour very well using a few tweaks on the Colour Master controls (you can’t go heavy with or you’ll get ‘issues’) but as we can see from the chart below, plotting performance at lower saturations, the L9363 tended to over-saturate at lower stimuli. It’s something we could easily see with certain skin tones but there was nothing that could be done with the available controls.
    Toshiba 65L9363DB Calibration
    Contrast, Black Levels & Screen Uniformity

    Whilst the 84-inch version of the L9363 undoubtedly sports an IPS panel - and thus mediocre black levels – the 65-inch is a slightly different beast, more akin to UHD TVs we’ve seen from the likes of Panasonic and LG. We’d speculate they were probably produced by Innolux, who are rapidly establishing themselves as major panel suppliers in the early days of 4K, but it’s by-the-by really. Whomever is responsible, they’ve done a pretty good job in producing a panel with a pleasing lack of light pooling but panel array banding – vertical stripes of uneven luminance – was very troublesome and very easily seen on lots of content under panning. We took measurements from an ANSI checkerboard pattern that revealed average black levels of exactly 0.06cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1645:1, which is certainly better than its monstrous big brother.

    Toshiba 65L9363DB Calibration
    Picture Processing

    Where the 65L9363 was more like big brother was in its slightly patchy video processing. Whilst, on paper (with patterns), scaling of lower resolution signals seemed crisp, real world content proved very soft and that’s right the way up to 1080i so most broadcast HD would look significantly better on a native 1080p panel. Cadence detection was also sub-par with both the 2:2(PAL) and 3:2 (NTSC) failing to create a lock. Nowadays, with the proliferation of Blu-ray and scaling DVD players, that isn’t such an issue but it’s a weakness, nonetheless. Video deinterlacing was reasonable using our jaggies tests but, again, fell down with actual content resulting in broken lines and edges during movement but, on a more positive note, the L9363 was able to display peak white and reference black simultaneously so dynamic range is good.

    Gaming Performance

    With Game Mode engaged from the Picture Menu, we registered input latency at 44.3 milliseconds using our dedicated testing kit. This is quite a good performance that will keep most happy, particularly those that don’t take their gaming online into multiplayer, where every millisecond counts. This is one area where the 84L9363 has the edge but gaming on a screen even as ‘small’ of this is quite the experience. We just wish our PS4 had arrived!

    Energy Consumption
    • Standby: 0.0W

    The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:

    • Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 305W
    • Calibrated 2D Mode: 278W
    • Calibrated 3D Mode: 366W

    Video processing is patchy and screen uniformity is poor

    Toshiba 65L9363DB Picture Quality - 2D

    Before we talk about the actual images, the Toshiba 65L9363 has one major issue that affects all connected HDMI sources running at 50Hz. So that affects your set-top-box (Sky Box, Tivo, Freeview etc), your DVD collection and some Blu-rays, plus and any old games consoles you might have lying around. The issue is lip sync – or rather the lack of it – and had you watched us uttering those words on the L9363, rather than just reading them, you would be here by the time heard them. OK, we exaggerate but it is very bad and the controls in the Sound Menu are insufficient to redeem the problem. We’ve fed this directly back to Toshiba and we’ll update the review when we know what they’re going to do about it. The internal tuners don’t suffer the problem to anything like the same extent but who doesn’t use a PVR nowadays?

    UPDATE: After contacting Toshiba, they issued us with a software update to fix the lip-synch issues and we're very pleased to confirm that it works! This does make the entire experience a whole lot better and Toshiba assures us they will be making the release more general so it should be implemented in to the entire range soon!

    We mentioned the panel banding in the Test Results section above but it merits further mention as it really does spoil a lot of the fun. Any sports involving grass pitches were rendered virtually unwatchable by the intrusive lines but the issue isn’t solely reserved for the colour green. Very pale shades of anything would show it up and it happens it’s impossible to put to the back of your mind. There are clearly some manufacturing challenges for Toshiba to overcome and we’d urge them to look in to it as soon as possible. It might be the ‘cheapest’ of the mainstream 65-inch Ultra HD TVs but anyone paying £3,600 for any TV should demand better. We might as well get the bad news out of the way here by saying the Active Backlight Control is both rubbish and buggy. When enaged it causes distracting screen luminance flashes and once you’ve had it switched on, it stays on unless you hard reset the TV – unplug and plug back in. Another one for the list.

    So what does the 65L9363 do well? Well, 4K, thankfully. Most of the clips sent to us by Toshiba were fairly ‘standard’ – we must have seen the Sky Diving footage three times by now – but there was also some animation content included which looked particularly fantastic, brimming with fine details and textures. Some of the action footage certainly highlighted the need higher framerates for Ultra HD, we expect LCD pixels to blur somewhat with rapid movement but when there’s twice the number, it looks doubly as bad. That said, we certainly enjoyed our latest taste of native 4K and we hope, nay expect, to see lots more in 2014 as the content providers get their collective acts together.

    Banding really spoils the 2D fun but 3D is great!

    Toshiba 65L9363DB Picture Quality - 3D

    The quality of the 3D pictures produced by the Toshiba 65L9363 were generally superb. It employs a passive 3D system and with the extra pixels to play is able to take full advantage by sending 1080p to each eye. The results with Life of Pi were mesmerising with virtually no crosstalk and the ability of the panel to go very bright really pays dividend in terms of providing the impact. There’s a noticeable increase in negative parallax (pop out) with passive 3D at full resolution to each eye, as well. We can’t say we’ve criticised 1080p passive TVs for their lack of pop out in the past but now we’ve seen it done on a 4K panel, we can testify to a fairly major improvement. The glasses also succeeded in blotting out some of the uniformity issues, too, and about our only criticism is some apparent forced motion processing at 1080p24 which can cause films to look a bit too slick.

    Conclusion

    6
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • 3D looks fabulous
    • Good connectivity
    • Attractive menus

    Cons

    • Very poor screen uniformity
    • Terrible lip-sync issues
    • Soft scaling
    • Mediocre video processing
    • Buggy and unresponsive interface
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Toshiba 65L9363DB 4K Ultra HD TV Review

    Toshiba grabbed some headlines with the pricing of their Ultra HD TVs at IFA 2013 and this 65-inch model will set you back well under £4,000 which, whilst far from budget, is considerably less expensive than the competition. It’s an attractive TV with enough connectivity options to satisfy almost everyone but the usability is somewhat hampered by a frustratingly slow and buggy menu interface that carries over into a limited – but growing - smart TV platform.

    The calibration controls are also blighted with issues, although we were still able to produce quite an accurate picture from the L9363. Video processing is also not the best and anything below 1080p tended to look rather soft. In other words, you’d be better watching a 65-inch 1080p set for just about everything and saving yourself a considerable sum in the process. The Ultra HD and 3D performance was generally excellent but the basic meat and drink of today's currently available content was pretty much ruined by banding uniformity issues – with almost everything – and appalling lip-sync issues with devices connected by HDMI running at 50Hz.

    Toshiba has some work to do for the 65L9363 to cut itself a credible place in the Ultra HD TV market place, right now, but with a few tweaks it does at least show some promise.

    UPDATE: After contacting Toshiba, they issued us with a software update to fix the lip-synch issues and we're very pleased to confirm that it works! This does make the entire experience a whole lot better and Toshiba assures us they will be making the release more general so it should be implemented in to the entire range soon!

    In light of this, we are happy to increase the overall score to a 6 as it's a far more useable device now!


    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

    7

    Screen Uniformity

    5

    Colour Accuracy

    7

    Greyscale Accuracy

    7

    Video Processing

    5

    2D Picture Quality

    5

    3D Picture Quality

    8

    Sound Quality

    6

    Smart Features

    6

    Build Quality

    7

    Ease Of Use

    6

    Value for Money

    6

    Verdict

    6

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