Toshiba Regza YL863 (55YL863B) 3D LED LCD Television Review
Mark finds out if new software has improved one of Toshiba's twin standard bearers.
IntroductionHaving previously reviewed the Toshiba WL863, the exercise with the YL863 is really more of a check on progress than anything else as both televisions share the same internals. The WL863 fell notably short was in its delivery of 3D – particularly for Side by Side material – and in its inability to fully saturate red, which gave a somewhat pasty colour palette, at times. However, just as with its sibling, the YL863B is jam packed full of features including auto-calibration, face recognition technology and USB HDD recording.
The WL863 left us mostly impressed so, a few software revisions down the line, have Toshiba managed to make any performance improvements with the YL863? Let’s go see.
Design & ConnectionsThe YL863 owes its looks to the Jacob Jensen design house and they’re likely to divide opinions. Whilst the bezel is very slim, at 2cm to top and sides and 5cm to the bottom, its brushed chrome appearance takes away any notion of the ‘bezel-less’ design by virtue of its shininess. Whether you like the rather gaudy appearance will be a matter of taste, and although it’s not quite our cup of cocoa, it did grow on us a little as time went by but we still much prefer the brushed charcoal effect of the WL. Underneath the bottom strip of the bezel are touch-sensitive power, volume, menu, input and channel hopping buttons and either side of the centred Toshiba logo we have a camera and light sensor that controls the auto-backlight dimming. The swivel base stand is very imposing (and very large) and is of the same chrome effect of the bezel. Its designer credentials are evidenced by a circular cut-out, edged in chrome that houses the connection between the base stand and mounting which is triangular prismatic in shape.
We’ve rather put the boot in on the fancy remote control that is shipping with Toshiba’s higher end TVs previously, but for the benefit of those that haven’t read the earlier reviews, we’ll do it again. The sliding metal cover is a big mistake, either in its up or down position, it gets in the way and it’s not tactile enough to forgive. When the cover is put in its higher position, the handset becomes bulbous and uncomfortable to hold, not to mention it wobbling and rattling around; when down, the remote takes on a pretty ridiculous length, becomes bottom heavy and actual feels more like a weapon, to handle, than it really should. Oh, and the buttons are too small. In short, it’s a virtually joyless piece of tech that should have remained on the Danish drawing board on which it was conceived.
Moving to the rear of the YL863 and we have all the connections and inputs we’d expect from a flagship product. The connection plate is well recessed from the edge of the bezel with the three side-facing HDMI ports 20cm in, the good news doesn’t stop there as there’s also a downward facing HDMI port that ARC compliant so the natural choice for an AV receiver, especially for those looking to wall mount. Accompanying the side facing HDMI’s we have a connection for Component video, with matching audio, via a supplied break-out adapter; a CAM slot; digital audio out; a headphone jack and two USB ports – one of which can be used for hard disc recording duties. The downward facing inputs are completed by a VGA PC in (with audio); a Scart (again via an adaptor) terminal; a LAN port and antennae sockets for both satellite and digital terrestrial (Freeview HD) broadcasts. In our book, that’s pretty much all the bases covered!
The 3D eye-wear (product code FPT-AG01) supplied, and indeed their active shutter system, has been developed in conjunction with RealD, the company behind most of the 3D systems employed in cinema’s. Unlike most other systems, the glasses feature a circular – rather than linear – polarisation meaning that all but the most extreme head tilting doesn’t result in a huge colour shift or darkening of the image. We found the glasses to be lightweight and reasonably comfortable to wear but not particularly generous in the width of the nose rest, i.e. they pinch a little with extended use. There is, as with almost all 3D glasses – a definite yellow tint but they did make a very good job of keeping out unwanted light and reflections, thus aiding immersion and effectively neutralising flicker. All in all, they’re some of the most successful active shutter eye-wear we’ve tested.
MenusThe GUI Toshiba include on their higher end TVs is hemispheric in appearance and split in to five main categories - TV Programmes, Media Player, Connected TV, Function and Setup. Although the lay out appears fairly simple on the face of it, we can’t help feeling Toshiba could have consolidated further and had all their ‘Smart TV’ features under one roof, i.e. Media Player, Function and Connected TV could have sat together.
The Picture menu houses some interesting options being as the WL863 is enabled to use the Toshiba Auto Calibration tool, more on which later. Besides the auto calibration options and standard Backlight, Contrast, Sharpness and Brightness sliders we have various picture modes with Hollywood Day and Night mimicking isf or THX day/night modes. There are two further sub picture menus in the Advanced and Expert Picture Settings areas. Under 'Advanced' we have Toshiba's notoriously buggy CMS, labelled ColourMaster; Colour Temperature; Auto Brightness Sensor Settings; LED Backlight Control; Black/White Level; Static Gamma; Noise Reduction, Resolution+ and Active Vision M800. The Expert Picture Settings Menu houses a catch-all test pattern and a RGB Filter allowing for a quick colour and tint calibration using just a test disc and blue filter. We can also choose between BT.601 and BT.709 colour decoding or choose to have the TV auto detect. From here we can also calibrate the greyscale using the 2 or 10 point White Balance controls as well as use the calibration tool in conjunction with the Colour and Gamma Calibration items. We'll deal with this, in detail, later on. Finally we have a Control Visualisation option that produces graphs showing representations of APL and gamma response, it's a nice if fairly superficial touch.
The System Setup tab contains all the tuning, language and location options whilst the Sound Menu has a standard Balance slider and there's a Dolby noise reduction setting with options for Low, High and Off, it's set to Low by default. For all but the poorest sources, switch it off as it puts the shackles on the, actually acceptable, speakers – there’s even a sub-woofer built in although Russell would probably have something to say about that!. There's also a Headphone volume control and, under the Advanced Sound Settings, an equaliser and some 'surround' options.
FeaturesThe 55YL863, as you would expect, has a very full list of features but, as we mentioned earlier, they don’t all sit together and give the impression of disconnection although we would expect users to soon get used to the menu lay out.
The Toshiba 55YL863B has Wi-Fi functionality built in, which is always good, and also the ability to plug in an external hard drive for some PVR duties is always a nice feature to have. That Wi-Fi as a built in feature is particularly useful for DLNA playback of media files and the YL863 had no problem in picking up the media servers on our PC and made a reasonable job of most of what was thrown at it; and the same goes for the media player when accessing files from USB. As well as the ability to stream to the 863, the TV can also act as a media renderer to devices connected to your network.
Taking centre stage, as far as Smart TV functionalities are concerned, is Toshiba Places which is a web based portal providing access to video portals such as iPlayer, Box Office 365 and The Cartoon Network. There are also a few news services and social networking/sharing in the Picassa app. Perhaps the star of Places is Woomi TV that's a cloud based video portal offering a wide range of content, not much of which is UK specific but it does show promise provided they can gain enough interest to expand what's on offer.
As per our previous experiences with the face recognition technology, we found no joy here again with the YL863.The feature is intended to store personalised settings and preferences per user but if it can’t reliably recognise you – which it couldn’t - then it’s not much use and just becomes an annoyance after a while as it gets confused every time you move away or a new person enters the room and asks if you want to select a saved setting. The feature was disabled within an hour and when we say feature, we really mean gimmick.
Test ResultsHaving run our usual sweep of measurements, it came as no surprise that that the Hollywood modes were giving pictures closest to industry standards, with the only difference between Hollywood Night and Day being the backlight being cranked up higher in the Day mode. As we found with just about every Toshiba featuring the Hollywood modes, gamma is tracking higher than we’d like but greyscale results are good, if not spectacular. We had noticed a slight, and we mean slight, yellow cast to skin tones, which is exactly what you would expect given the mixture of green and red that are both tracking a little too high and a small deficit in blue.
Those charts give us absolutely no cause for panic as Toshiba’s 10 point White Balance controls are amongst the best in the business but the same can most definitely not be said about the Colour Master CMS, which is at best erratic and at worst, picture crippling. One of the biggest disappointments with the WL863 was in its inability to saturate red fully that meant some creative calibration was required get images up to snuff so we were (probably vainly) hoping that the issue was in software rather than being a panel limitation. So what had a few software revisions done for the YL863?
And the answer is, absolutely nothing. In fact comparing this result to that of the WL863 only further reveals their twin status, they are identical results allowing for a small meter variance. So we would left to have a bash with the CMS to see if we could improve gamut performance else find some workable compromise with the basic controls. Sigh.
The greyscale and gamma calibration went like a dream and using the 10 point control white balance sliders, along with a small adjustment to the Static Gamma control, we were able to achieve reference performance:
There’s no need to publish the calibrated gamut chart, as we found that Colour Master – oh the irony of that name – was up to its old tricks in introducing nasty blocky artefacts to pictures and was unusable as a result. We could mitigate the under saturation in red, a little, by upping its luminance using the global colour control but in doing so we were increasing the error in green which is even more unacceptable to our eyes so we had to leave it as was.
It’s not really as big a problem as it looks on paper, colours were still quite believable and the neutrality of the greyscale is more important but we’d like to see improvements made in the panel’s native performance going forwards.
As with the most of the other Toshiba’s we’ve seen recently, the YL863 lacks any kind of film mode and, as a result, is unable to pick up on even the most common film cadences, failing every single test thrown at it. Whilst it’s not ideal, it’s only those that don’t have an upscaling DVD player, or watch a lot of films from broadcast TV, that are going to suffer as a consequence. Scaling of standard definition signals was actually handled very well, with no loss of detail and very little ringing and that was with or without Resolution+ enabled in the user menus. Deinterlacing of standard definition was also handled competently with the 863 able to handle motion whilst retaining most of the fine details – source permitting, of course.
Likewise, deinterlacing of 1080i HD signals was conducted without much fuss or jaggedness and the YL863B was able to resolve a mixture of video based text over film content, either scrolling horizontally or vertically, without shredding the text. Directional filtering showed a very reasonable degree of accuracy, also, with flag waving tests showing no undue break-up. Provided overscan is disabled, the 863 is capable of displaying full video and film resolution and with our Blu-ray player set to 4:2:2, displayed both the luma and chroma signals cleanly and fully. Note: it really didn’t like YCC 4:4:4 or RGB. The Toshiba 55YL863 showed an excellent dynamic range and had no troubles displaying the full 0-255 signal without any clipping; although we would only be calibrating from 17 (video black) up, it’s potentially handy for owners that will be hooking up a PC via DVI/HDMI.
It would be a pretty poor state of affairs if a Flagship television wasn’t able to faithfully reproduce 1080p24 material, and so it was the case with the YL863 displaying no judder, beyond what the source dictates. Whilst we certainly wouldn’t advocate the use of Toshiba’s motion interpolating Active Vision M800 200Hz scanning system with your Blu-ray discs, used in its standard configuration, fast paced video action can be aided by its implementation with only a minimal amount of artefacting and no perceptible soap effect. It seems like CEVO has worked a little magic here, when compared to the non-CEVO equipped Toshiba’s we’ve seen, so far, but that’s not to say we’d recommend blanket usage and it’s something of a matter of personal taste that we’d advise owners to experiment with.
Barring the absence of film cadence detection, the WL863 certainly showed some excellent video processing abilities and it’s really only in that area we’d ask Toshiba to be looking at making serious improvements.
Just as with the WL863, we found gaming to be a pleasurable and responsive experience with the YL863 showing an averaged input lag of 30 milliseconds. It may not be enough for pro gamers who like to play twitchy shooters and fighting games where every millisecond counts but it was enough for us.
In calibrated 2D mode, the YL863 consumed an averaged 92W and 109W in 3D mode, which are impressive numbers indeed for a 55 inch panel.
Picture Quality - 2DThere’s plenty of good things to say here but, as is all too typical with edge-lit LED TVs, there’s also quite a few negatives. If we start with the good then we can say the Toshiba YL863 does possess very impressive black levels and, as a result, contrast performance is also very strong. Now take this measurement for what it’s worth but we recorded the YL863’s minimum luminance (aka black level) as 0.05 cd/m2 on an ANSI Checkerboard pattern without any local dimming trickery and 0.03 cd/m2 with the local dimming set to high, which is a very decent performance indeed. Continuing with the positive, we were also able to push the local dimming algorithms to their maximum without excessive haloing (lighter patches) around objects; the downside of that is it will cause gamma to spike near white and we prefer that it doesn’t.
Whilst the colour palette - with anything involving red in the mix – is on the muted side, the calibrated greyscale gives a great backbone to images and most will soon adopt the colours on offer as being correct, even if they are some way off. Motion looked fairly clean and the YL863 had no problems keeping up with panning in Blu-ray material at 24p. Just like almost every other LED TV we could care to mention, with fast moving video at higher framerates, things can become a bit blurred but with Active Vision interpolation engaged, there was a perceptible improvement without too much in the way of artefacting or unnatural looking movement. We’d wouldn't advise to use it ad hoc but we think there’s a time and a place for it.
We were impressed by the WL863’s relatively good screen uniformity but the YL863’s lack of it is probably a good indicator of what a lottery buying an LED TV can be. With light pooling/flashlighting covering well over half the screen, anything by way of a dark scene was spoiled and the impressive black levels largely ruined. Shadow detail was also another victim of the light-pooling with fine details literally lost in the clouds. It’s a real pity but we have to say as enthusiasts, it’s unacceptable and had this been a TV we’d bought for own use, it would have been back to the retailer in double quick time for replacement or refund. It’s a tale we have to tell too often unfortunately, but we can only review what’s put in front of us.
Picture Quality - 3DWell, what do you know, it’s another mixed bag here too! We gave the WL863 a hard time for its side by side 3D performance which is the only format available through broadcast TV and also includes some video games. We did have some hope that Toshiba would have been able to address this facet of performance through a software update but once again we were left disappointed. If anything, it’s got worse and we suspect that Toshiba may have made some changes to the resolution in order to hide the obscene amounts of crosstalk, i.e. they’ve blurred things so you don’t notice it quite so much. If they haven’t altered anything and it’s just our mind playing tricks then the SBS 3D is even worse than we remembered. There’s still lots of crosstalk but images also look sub standard definition in quality, to boot. It’s really not very pretty or pleasant to watch and Toshiba have serious work to do here.
With frame packed, sequential 3D material – i.e. what you see on Blu-ray – the Toshiba YL863 did do better although there’s certainly room for improvement. Crosstalk is still present but certainly not to the extent we saw with the SBS material and usually confined to higher contrast scenes. As we said earlier the glasses could be more comfortable and they’re quite heavily tinted (yellowy brown) but we were able to at least sit through a presentation without the immediate urge to go back in to 2D mode. Whilst the new glasses-free ZL2 uses a different technology we truly hope Toshiba have made improvements to their 3D processing engines or it’s going to be laughed out of Harrods!
- Excellent blacks and contrast
- Reference calibrated greyscale and gamma
- Decent video processing
- 3D Blu-rays looked generally stunning
- Very good stab at 'local dimming'
- Tasteful design
- 3D glasses are well designed
- Motion interpolation of actual benefit to some video content
- Poor Uniformity with widespread clouding
- Awful 'designer' remote control
- Side by side 3D is poor
- Smart TV functions feel disconnected and are sparse
- Red is noticeably under-saturated
Toshiba Regza YL863 (55YL863B) 3D LED LCD Television Review
The Toshiba 55YL863B given to us for review is one of those very frustrating beasts that has a lot going for it only for it all to be undone by one serious flaw. With its excellent black levels and contrast, a ruler flat greyscale and some fine video processing we should have been all set for a feast for the eyes. Instead, the pervasive uniformity problems with light pooling all over the screen stopped us from ever being truly immersed in what we were watching. It’s all too familiar a story with LED TVs, alas, and we hope the industry is taking note. We don’t feel that anyone with a genuine interest in picture quality would have accepted the YL863 tested here and for that reason we can’t bestow the same recommendation its twin received. If you manage to get hold of a unit with good uniformity then you certainly have picked up a bit of a bargain large screen TV but we can only review what’s put in front of us. Fans of 3D are probably best looking elsewhere too, particularly if broadcast material is a concern and Toshiba have some work to do on that area of video processing. The Toshiba YL863 is a mixed bag, it’s just a pity all the good work went to waste in the name of fashion.
Like it or not, there’s no disputing that the YL863 is a bold bit of design. We didn’t take to it at first but the chrome effect trim grew on us as time went by, although we still prefer the elegant brushed charcoal look of its sibling. The remote control supplied is the same silly designer nonsense, unfortunately, and although it looks good on the coffee table, it’s uncomfortable to handle with buttons that are far too small. The 3D eyewear is of a reasonable standard but tinted yellow and not particularly forgiving to those with wider nasal passages. Yes, we’re speaking from experience!
The Toshiba GUI, whilst generally attractive and responsive, does give the feeling of being rather disconnected – especially in terms of the Smart TV functions and apps. We would have cut at least two of the sub-menu items - probably three - and it’s an area we think Toshiba should look at, if they want owners to buy into the idea of the TV as the complete entertainment hub. In terms of the Smart TV functions, themselves, it’s a fairly basic suite, for now, but the likes of YouTube and BBC iPlayer are present and we’re certain there will be plenty more going forwards.
Out of the box greyscale performance was good and we were able to calibrate it to perfection using the 10 point white balance controls. Colour reproduction was not nearly so impressive and Toshiba’s bothersome CMS proved no help so we were left with a bit of a muted colour palette although we’d expect most users to adjust to it fairly quickly. Obviously picture processing was exactly that found in the WL863 with very decent scaling and deinterlacing performance, almost non-existent film cadence detection (it did correctly display 24p) and excellent dynamic range. We even found that Toshiba’s frame interpolation system to be helpful with most video based content but it was disengaged for movie watching.
We found gaming to be a pleasurable and responsive experience with the YL863 showing an averaged input lag of 30milliseconds which may not be enough for pro gamers but it was enough for us. In calibrated 2D mode, the YL863 consumed an averaged 92w and 109w in 3D mode, which are impressive numbers indeed for a 55inch panel.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,599.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality6
Ease Of Use7
Value for Money6
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.