Toshiba (along with LG and Vizio) has chosen to embrace passive polarized 3D technology for their 2011 line of flat panel 3DTV models. The TL515 series is one of two impressive ranges of 3DTVs that Toshiba now offers (the top-tier UL610 models feature jazzier styling and faster screen refresh), and the TL515 range includes 32”, 42”, 47”, 55” and 65” models.
According to a number of consumer surveys last year that queried likely TV buyers, the high cost of active shutter 3D glasses was at the top of the list of concerns for those interested in 3D sets. By choosing to go with passive 3D technology, Toshiba directly addresses the issue, and their new sets feature the same RealD 3D technology as found in your local 3D movie theater.
Consider this HDTV if: you’re interested in watching 3D movies at home, but you don’t want to shell out a lot of dollars to buy comparably expensive active shutter 3D glasses
Look elsewhere if: you’re looking for a premium 3D experience, as the RealD passive 3D approach simply can’t provide as good a 3D picture as you’ll get with a 3D TV that features active shutter 3D glasses technology
Although the TL515 series isn’t Toshiba’s top-tier 3DTV line, the sets are very well equipped, and feature LED edgelighting with local dimming along with 240 Hz screen refresh. There’s built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi along with a wired Ethernet connection for accessing Internet content. The 3D functionality includes 2D-to-3D upconversion capability.
The 47” review sample tested here is the first 2011 flat panel I’ve received that sports the newly required Energy Guide power consumption label. According to the label, the set is very energy efficient, with an expected annual cost of operation at only $18, which is down the bottom of the range printed on the label (the top of the operation cost range). By design, the Energy Guide label enables customers to compare Toshiba’s 47TL515 to other sets in the 45-49” range. According to the label, the usage assumption is five hours per day.
LED edgelighting with local dimming is the most energy efficient flat panel display technology out there these days, but on powering up the set the first time, it became crystal clear how the Toshiba was able to hit that low energy consumption rating. The picture was ridiculously dim, at about a third of the brightness you’d need for a good viewing experience in a moderately lit room.
The default picture settings tell why. The AutoView picture mode that’s automatically selected has a number of picture brightness processing functions activated, including dynamic contrast as well as ambient room lighting detection and compensation. Turning those features off and switching to the Movie 1 mode produced a much better looking picture and eliminated the noticeable picture brightness changes that I saw upon first viewing.
To be fair to Toshiba, this isn’t the first 2011 flat panel I’ve seen with that kind of behavior, as a Panasonic plasma tested recently was similarly dim with the default out-of-the-box settings. It doesn’t matter much anyway, as the Toshiba’s power consumption with my preferred settings only went up a few watts, hardly enough to make a difference on a typical household’s power bill.
The Internet functionality is very good, with a broad range of apps to choose from, including simple Yahoo and other widgets as well as subscription pay TV streaming services including Netflix and CinemaNow, and there’s Pandora Internet radio for music fans and Twitter and Facebook for the social media types in your family. Netflix gets a little more prominence as far as streaming service choices are concerned, as there’s a dedicated red Netflix button on the remote control. To access other content and services, the Net TV button nearby gets you there.
Of course, the 3D functionality is what will draw buyers to move up to the TL515 series, and by using RealD’s passive polarized 3D technology, the set is compatible with the same type of inexpensive 3D glasses that are doled out at your local 3D theater. Better still, the set ships with four pairs of 3D specs.