Big screen, big resolution, not so big price
What is the Toshiba 84L9363DB?
We reviewed LG’s 84-inch 4K TV at the end of last year and whilst we were impressed with our first taste of Ultra High Definition television, it was hard to justify the £23,000 asking price.Since then we have seen Ultra HD TVs from all the major manufacturers and have been surprised at how precipitous the drop in prices has been. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the really big screen sizes, with both Sony and LG slashing the price of their 84-inch models this year. Now relative latecomers to the 4K market like Philips and Toshiba have launched their versions of the same basic panel at even lower prices.
Philips don’t currently plan to sell their 84-inch model in the UK, perhaps feeling there isn't much demand for a TV the size of a family car. However Toshiba are pricing quite aggressively across their entire range, with the 84-inch L9363 going for ‘only’ £8,999. That’s still a hefty lump of change, in fact it’s more than the cost of Sony’s superb VW500 4K projector, so the Toshiba 84L9363 had better deliver the goods. Let’s find out…
Design and ConnectionsThe overall design of the 84L9363 is fairly minimalist, with a simple black bezel and almost nothing else to distinguish it, aside from a silver strip along the bottom and a small Toshiba logo in the left hand corner. Of course there’s only so much you can do with a giant 84-inch screen and we’ve always preferred a black bezel anyway, so we rather like Toshiba’s spartan approach. The sheer size of the screen can’t be understated; we've had some big TVs in for review but, aside from LG’s version of the same TV, the L9363 dwarfs them all. What this means is that whilst the screen isn’t too reflective, by virtue of the sheer real estate on display, you’re bound to get some reflections. There are also quite noisy built-in cooling fans, which could be audible during the quiet parts of programmes.
The panel itself is supported by two chrome columns which are attached to a simple silver stand, a design that we found both attractive and functional. Clearly the main criteria for the stand is that it could actually take the weight of the panel itself because make no mistake this TV is heavy. Anyone thinking of wall mounting will need to build a wall first, reinforce it and then build the rest of the house around the Toshiba. We just about managed to get this monster into our cottage and for once the term ‘hernia-inducing’ isn’t an exaggeration, it weighs 77kgs with the stand. The chassis is also deep, none of that size zero nonsense here, although it still uses edge LED lighting which might be an issue on a screen this big.
The sheer size of the screen can’t be understated
The 84L9393 has a decent set of connections running down the left side, with some more facing downwards and rearwards. Thanks to the huge screen size the side facing connectors are at least a reasonable distance from the edge, so no ugly cables poking out. There are three HDMI inputs facing sideways and an extra one facing to rear. You get support for MHL, 3D, CEC and ARC and what Toshiba rather disingenuously refer to as '4K Support', which means the 1.4a HDMI inputs can accept 4K up to 30Hz. Aside from that there’s the usual selection of connections including SCART, component and composite video, an Ethernet port, a headphone jack, a RS-232 serial connector, audio inputs and outputs, a SD card slot and two USB ports.
So what do you get in terms of accessories for your nine grand? Well there’s some adaptors for component and composite video, which is fairly standard but handy for anyone still using legacy connections. Given the size of the chassis the adaptors aren’t really necessary but are probably a holdover from the panel provider. There’s a decent remote that uses a two tone colour scheme that matches the TV itself but, whilst comfortable to hold, it seems a bit on the plastic side for such an expensive TV. The buttons are sensibly laid out although, annoyingly, Toshiba provided us with the wrong controller, so the 3D button was missing, which made it impossible for us to select side-by-side 3D. Speaking of the third dimension, the 84L9363 uses the passive system and includes four pairs of glasses.
MenusThe Toshiba menu system has had a bit of a facelift this year and is certainly easier on the eye but can be a little sluggish to use on occasion. Still the sub-menus are sensibly laid out and clearly labeled which makes navigation and interaction fairly straightforward. The menus are accessed by pressing the spanner icon button on the remote and are structured into a series of self-explanatory sub-headings. For quicker access to important functions there’s also the QUICK button on the remote, but if you want to get at the detailed Picture Settings, the normal route is required. The Picture menu includes all the standard controls such as Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint and Sharpness.
The Picture menu also has three accurate Picture Modes - Hollywood Day, Hollywood Night and Hollywood Pro - and in these modes you can access a number of sub-menus called Advanced Picture Settings, Expert Picture Settings and Display Settings. Under the Advanced Picture Settings you will find a colour management system (ColourMaster), along with a 2- and 10-Point white balance control (Colour Temperature). The majority of the remaining controls should be turned off or set to manual although, as we’ll see later, the Active Backlight Control can come in handy.
The Smart TV platform is limited but wisely concentrates on VoD services
FeaturesAs we would hope from a flagship TV, the 84L9363 has a very respectable set of features, including built-in WiFi, WiDi support for compatible devices, DLNA support, a media player and a Smart TV platform. There’s also the mandatory Web browser and Skype support but the former was very sluggish, on the TV we tested it on, and the latter requires the purchase of an expensive USB camera to function. We were surprised there was no built-in camera because once again there’s no lack of space in the chassis but we suspect it’s absence relates to this being last year’s panel. The Home page is pretty and well organised but can be somewhat sluggish to move around and is fairly limited in terms of features, especially when compared to much of the competition. There’s really not much there except for video-on-demand (VoD) services, which means the various pages trend to look almost identical.
The concentration of VoD services on the portal makes sense and most of the main providers are present including YouTube, iPlayer and Netflix. However overall app support is certainly limited compared to the likes of Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony. If Toshiba could add a few more key services and make the interface more responsive, their Smart TV platform should keep most users happy. Two areas where Toshiba have impressed are their Rovi powered media guide which uses meta-data and their Cloud TV app, which basically recreates the portal experience on a secondary screen. It’s currently only available on Apple devices and, as far as we know, there are no plans for an Android version. For a more in-depth look at Toshiba’s 2013 Smart TV platform, please see here.
Sound QualityIf there's one area where a huge screen size and large chassis can have a positive affect, it's in terms of sound quality. The bigger dimensions can mean larger speakers and the wider screen should result in better stereo separation. So it proved with the 84L9363, which delivered a genuinely impressive audio performance. There was a great sense of stereo separation, resulting in a wide and dynamic front soundstage. In fact the screen was so wide that the audio was genuinely immersive and the added depth allowed for a greater low end extension, resulting in a decent amount of bass. The mid and higher ranges were also well represented and the overall sound quality was impressive, with clear dialogue and well integrated music and effects. There was however an issue with an noticeable delay in the audio with certain devices and it seemed especially noticeable with our Freeview PVR. If your source device has an audio delay feature then the sync issues can be addressed but it was annoyance that marred an otherwise great audio performance.
The sound quality was impressive but marred by a slight audio delay with certain source devices
Using the Hollywood Pro setting as a starting point, we set the brightness and contrast controls and turned off all the unnecessary features. We then ran our measurements and overall, the out-of-the-box performance was very good. If you look at the greyscale in the bottom left graph, you'll see that although there was a slight deficit in red and a small excess in blue, the overall errors we all below the tolerance level of three. There was a slight push towards cyan but it really wan't noticeable, whilst the gamma is tracking at 2.4 precisely. The colour accuracy was equally as impressive, with most near their targets and overall errors all below three, with the exception of red. There was an error in the hue of red and a slight excess in terms of luminance but even these errors were on the edge of being perceivable.
The two-point white balance control allowed us to calibrate the greyscale to a high level of accuracy, although it didn't allow us to fix a small excess of blue in the blacks. However even that measurement only registered an error of 2 and all the rest were well below 0.5, which is essentially perfect. The gamma was still tracking the 2.4 target precisely. We managed to make adjustments to the ColourMaster controls that resulted in a reference colour performance but real world viewing demonstrated that the normal problems of banding and blocking, incurred by its use, were present. This is a common issue with the CMS in Toshiba TVs, so instead we settled for the unadjusted colour performance which, with the exception of some small errors in red and some slight over-saturation in green, magenta and yellow, was already quite accurate,
Of course the CIE chart above right only shows the colour performance at full saturation at three quarter of potential full brightness but the multi-saturation graph below demonstrates the decoding at lower saturation levels. Unfortunately this wasn’t as faithful, particularly in the primary colours which were over-saturated. Without comparing the 84L9363 to a display with better colour tracking, it is unlikely you will notice these errors. However we could and as such it was fairly easy to see that certain colours, especially red and green appeared too saturated. However, flesh tones remained quite faithful thanks to the more accurate tracking of magenta.Contrast, Black Levels & Screen Uniformity
With an 84-inch screen size, the L9363 is never going to be easy to light in a uniform manner, especially as it uses edge LED lighting. We assume that the decision not to use a full LED backlight array is cost related, after all the Samsung series uses a full LED array but cost upwards of thirty grand. Thankfully despite the limitations of edge LED backlighting, the uniformity was surprisingly good. There were still bright corners but overall the Toshiba was actually quite impressive when it came to its backlight. Where it wasn't so good was in terms of black levels, measuring 0.13cdm/2, which is poor even for a LCD TV. On the plus side it was bright, very bright, easily hitting our target of 120cd/m2 and giving an on/off contrast ratio of 923:1 and an ANSI contrast ratio of 745:1. The perceived black levels could be improved using the Active Backlight Control but this solution had its own drawbacks. Yes the blacks looked much better but since it is a global control there were also occasions when the brightness of the image would noticeably change. You could also get get a column of light if there was a white object against a black background. However, it is reasonably well implemented and for general viewing it largely helped without causing too many visible distractions.
Despite the limitations of edge LED backlighting, the uniformity was surprisingly good
The video processing was something of a mixed bag, with certain parts performing very well whilst falling down on simple things like cadence detection. Despite the presence of the Cinema Mode function in the Picture menu, the L9363 was unable to detect the 2:2 (PAL) film cadence and rather surprisingly it also failed to correctly detect the 3:2 (NTSC) film cadence. So you’ll need to rely on the upscaling in your Blu-ray or DVD players and set-top boxes to perform the task for standard definition film content sent through as an interlaced signal. However the 84L9363 had no problems correctly displaying Blu-ray discs and the 'CEVO Engine 4K' proved to be an excellent scaling processor, perfectly displaying all content onto the huge 84-inch screen.
The L9363 performed well in all our other tests, it had no problems in showing a mixture of film and video mixed content and was able to show a signal all the way up to peak white. All film and video content was wonderfully matched to the native 4K panel and the scaling algorithm took full advantage of the extra pixels to deliver a wonderfully detailed image. When it came to motion handling the L9363 delivered the usual 300 lines of resolution on the FPD benchmark disc, which is what we would expect from a LCD panel. This can be improved by using the ClearScan feature but in doing so you introduce the 'soap opera effect', so it is best reserved for sports broadcasts and avoided for films and TV dramas.
Whilst it's unlikely anyone is going to shell out nine grand on an 84-inch 4K TV just to play games, if someone does they're in for a treat. The 84L9363 returned an input lag measurement of 38ms which is one of the lower ones that we've recorded this year and when you combined this with the image quality and screen size, the result is a highly immersive and responsive gaming experience. We haven't picked up one off the next-gen gaming consoles yet but one can only imagine how good they would look on the big Toshiba.
- Standby: 0.0W
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 410W
- Calibrated 2D Mode: 229W
Toshiba 84L9363DB Picture Quality - SD/HDA screen this big is always going to be a challenge for standard definition content but the excellent scaling really helped, making Freeview broadcasts and, especially DVDs, look surprisingly watchable. Of course there's not much the 84L9363 can do about heavily compressed broadcasts but when the source was of a decent quality the results were very good. Switching up to high definition content and the Toshiba could really show what it was capable of, with both 1080i broadcasts and 1080p Blu-rays looking superb.
The recent Doctor Who special looked very impressive on the huge screen and with new Blu-ray purchases like Pacific Rim and Man of Steel, the L9363 took full advantage of its higher resolution panel to deliver wonderfully detailed images. However it is always worth remembering that the current crop of 4K Ultra HD TVs are still LCD panels with LED backlights and as such suffer from the limitations of the technology. So motion handling, whilst decent for a LCD panel, was still subject to blurring and on occasion the poor blacks and backlight uniformity became apparent.
The L9363 took full advantage of its higher resolution panel to deliver wonderfully detailed images
Toshiba 84L9363DB Video Review
Toshiba 84L9363DB Picture Quality - 3DIf there is one area where purchasing a 4K TV delivers an immediate benefit it's with passive 3D. The higher resolution panel allows the TV to deliver full 1080p to both eyes, resulting in images that are completely free of crosstalk or flicker. Once you add in the huge screen size, reasonably accurate images and brightness and you have a truly amazing 3D experience. We have been watching a number of recently purchased 3D Blu-rays, including The Croods, Turbo, Epic and Planes - all of which looked superb on the 84L9363. The images had a wonderful solidity, dimension was perfectly replicated and there was a palpable sense of depth. With the 84-inch screen providing a genuine feeling of immersion, the result was a highly enjoyable 3D experience where the skill and creativity of the animators was fully realised.
The 84-inch screen provided a genuine sense of immersion, resulting in a highly enjoyable 3D experience
Toshiba 84L9363DB Picture Quality - 4KWhen it comes to reviewing 4K Ultra HD TVs and projectors, the obvious elephant in the room is the continuing absence of any native 4K content. The situation is improving with Sony launching a 4K download service (in the US), RED releasing their Redray player (if you can get hold of one) and Netflix offering 4K streaming (if you have a fast enough broadband connection); whilst YouTube have been providing 4K content for some time. Next year should see some satellite providers start to broadcast in 4K and the chances of a 4K Blu-ray player look promising, so hopefully there is more native content on the way.
In the meantime, when it comes to testing we're left with the usual travelogue footage and stage scenes that the manufacturers provide. As always this footage looks incredible on the L9363's 4K panel and the larger screen size really benefits from the higher pixel count, with the added resolution being very obvious. Obviously this footage is at 30Hz, the L9363 doesn't have HDMI 2.0 but since the standards still haven't been agreed it is something of a moot point. All the demo footage is quite bright so it would be interesting to see how the Toshiba would handle darker film material but overall the 4K performance remained impressive.
- Big screen
- 4K panel
- Excellent scaling
- Superb 3D
- Very bright
- Great build quality
- Good sound
- Weak blacks
- Slight audio sync issues
- CMS still needs work
- Cadence detection failed
Toshiba 84L9363DB 4K LED LCD TV ReviewThe Toshiba 84L9363 has many positive features and its huge screen size can take full advantage of the higher resolution offered by the limited 4K content currently available. The scaling is excellent and with 1080p Blu-rays in particular the results can be very impressive, whilst the passive 3D is just superb, delivering an enjoyable and highly immersive experience. The larger screen size and chassis allows for a decent audio performance too, although a slight audio delay marred some of Toshiba's good work in this area. The build quality was good and there were plenty of features, although Toshiba's Smart TV platform remains limited.
Of course despite the 4K panel, the L9363 is still just an LCD TV with edge LED lighting, so it inherits all the problems that entails, especially poor blacks and motion handling. However the backlight uniformity was quite good, whilst the Toshiba was also bright and managed an accurate calibrated greyscale. The colours weren't so good however and the cadence detection was poor. Ultimately it is hard to justify the price tag, especially when you can get Sony's VW500 4K projector for less, but we'll be very interested in seeing how Toshiba's smaller and considerably cheaper 4K Ultra HD TVs perform.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level6
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality10
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money7
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