Toshiba 65ZX900 3D Cell TV

The Toshiba 65ZX900 Cell TV was introduced at CES 2010 and certainly wowed audiences when they learnt of the insane hardware that was powering Toshiba’s latest 3D TV offering in 2010. This 480Hz, 65 inch, LED backlit LCD TV is Toshiba’s largest 3D TV offering and is powered by the powerful Cell processor that was developed in part by Toshiba, along with a number of other manufacturers.

The cell processor is an extremely powerful and highly parallel processing architecture that currently powers Sony’s Playstation 3 consoles along with some high end supercomputers. The 3.2 GHz processors powering this TV (200 gigaflops of raw computational power) make the Cell TV, without a doubt, the most powerful 3D TV when it comes to its ability to process and display video content. If the machines are ever to make an attempt to rule over us puny humans, the Cell TV would be the most likely candidate to start that revolution :) . Toshiba have certainly taken an interesting approach with their latest generation of 3D ready HDTVs and have left no stone unturned when you consider the large feature set of the Cell 3D TVs. Continue reading our review of the Toshiba 65ZX900 to learn more about all the features of the Cell TV and how it stacks up against the competition.

Picture Quality

Flatpanel Resolution and Refresh Rate

The Toshiba Cell TVs have a number of revolutionary features that are not present on any of the other 3D TVs being developed for 2010. The display of the Toshiba 65ZX900 is one such feature, with a staggering 4K resolution display. That’s a resolution of 3840 x 2160 over 5,443,200 more pixels than a regular 1080p (1920 x 1080) HDTV. While this is certainly a cool feature, it remains to be seen if this will be of any use considering that there aren’t any true sources of 4k resolution content just yet. We will probably be stuck with 1080p for at least a few more years. However the 4K display might come in handy since the Toshiba Cell TV will rely on its superior processing power to deliver ultra high quality up converted video content. While this enhanced resolution is certainly a nice feature, it is a bit unnecessary at the moment. Toshiba hasn’t announced a price point for the Cell 3D TVs, but it is quite doubtful whether many consumers would be willing to shell out more money for a 4K display when there isn’t any 4K content available at the moment.

The Toshiba 65ZX900 is rated at a flatpanel refresh rate of 480Hz. While this is certainly the highest refresh rate for a 3D ready TV yet, one should keep in mind that it isn’t a “true 480Hz” display. Rather, it uses the scanning backlight method to double the screen refresh rate of 240Hz, to a rated 480Hz. So there is some trickery involved in the numbers, and to be honest, we’d suggest that you don’t pay too much attention to the refresh rate numbers being quoted by manufacturers. The truth is, that in some cases a good quality 120Hz display can even outperform some of the higher rated displays.

Color Accuracy

Like many LED backlit displays, the colors on the Cell TV looked vibrant and vivid although a detailed analysis won’t be available till Toshiba begins to ship these TVs. An interesting feature of the Toshiba 65ZX900 is Autoview RGB, which uses light sensors to measure ambient light levels as well as information about the color of the ambient light. Based on the measurements made by the TV sensors, the color, brightness, gamma, sharpness, saturation and color temperature of the display image are tweaked so as to provide the ideal color balance, brightness and contrast for the given ambient lighting conditions. This is an evolutionary step over previous generations of TVs which have accounted for ambient brightness levels to control the flatpanel display brightness.

Black Level and Contrast

Right half of image shows individual LED backlight zones. Notice how the LED zones in darker regions are much dimmer. Pic Credit -

One of the most revolutionary features of the Toshiba 65ZX900 Cell TV is the KIRA 2 backlighting technology that allows for 512 locally dimmable LED zones. This is a huge improvement over previous generations of locally dimmable LED TVs that usually featured a maximum of 96 local LED zones. Locally dimmable LED zones allows control of the backlight illumination over individual sections of the screen, thus allowing for better control of black levels and lowering backlight bleeding in the case of dark scenes. This affords very fine control for contrast and black levels, enabling blacks to remain black even when bordered by very bright regions on the screen. The 65ZX900 3D TV also boasts a dynamic contrast ratio of 9,000,000:1. The Kira2 technology allows for exceptional black levels and contrast on the Cell TVs and videos on this display showed very good black levels in areas neighboring bright regions of the screen. The image to the right is an interesting image provided at CES 2010 showing the LED zones on the right hand side of the screen. You can see how the individual zones are much dimmer in dark regions of the image, thus allowing for significantly enhanced black levels and image contrast.

Backlight Uniformity

Since the Toshiba ZX900 Cell TV does not incorporate edge-lit LED backlighting, but instead uses the KIRA2 technology providing 512 LED zones for backlighting, the backlight quality was excellent and very uniform. The Toshiba Cell TVs are rated at 1000 cd/m2 brightness, enough to burn a hole straight through your retina! The enhanced brightness is a welcome feature for 3D TVs as the active shutter glasses do tend to attenuate some of the incoming light from the television display.

Video Processing

The insane processing power of the Toshiba Cell TV allows it to use advanced algorithms to upscale low resolution content on the gorgeous 3K flatpanel display. Toshiba have termed this technology “Resolution +”, which they will use for upscaling regular DVDs and SD video content. Additionally, the TVs also feature “Net Resolution +” technology to reduce compression artifacts (usually manifesting as blockiness) in online videos. While this is certainly an interesting feature, the results aren’t too spectacular.

Ultimately, they are limited by the fact that it is very hard to create extra resolution where none exists to begin with. Given the power of the processor though, we would like to see more advanced techniques used for up-scaling low-res video content. For example, the use of fractal math to add detail and resolution to low resolution static images is widespread and there are some truly amazing products for achieving this. It would certainly be awesome if Toshiba could incorporate such advanced technology into Net Resolution +.

Viewing Angle

While there is no specific information regarding viewing angle of the Toshiba 65ZX900, we expect a viewing angle of 40-50 degrees as is typical of most LED LCD flatpanel displays.

3D Technology

Like all the other 3D Televisions being released in 2010, the Toshiba 65ZX900 will require 3D glasses. It relies on active shutter glasses and frame-sequential display methods to deliver 3D content. With a rated 480Hz refresh rate (something we are a bit skeptical of), the Cell TV is capable of delivering high quality 3D content with minimal cross-talk and ghosting.

The ZX900 series of televisions also feature Toshiba’s Trivector 2D to 3D conversion technology which leverages it’s awesome processing capabilities towards on-the-fly upconversion of 2D content into 3D. While this tends to work for certain content, it can also be glitch at time. We should mention though, that Samsung also includes this feature in its higher end 3D TVs but we expect the Toshiba 3D TVs to outperform Samsung in this aspect due to their superior processing capabilities.

Screen Size and Appearance

As mentioned before, the 65ZX900 Cell TV from Toshiba features a 65 inch flatpanel display with 512 local dimmable LED zones. While we have all gotten a glimpse of the Toshiba Cell 3D TV at CES 2010, Toshiba has repeatedly pointed out that the model on display was a prototype and that the final product would look significantly different. This is just as well, as the TV on display wasn’t much of a looker. The Cell TV will consist of the “Cell” hub, or set top box which will come in a design package termed “Genesis” by Toshiba that incorporated a brushed black aluminum bezel and a black acrylic trim. We will update this section with the latest information and images as and when Toshiba releases more information about the final production models of the Cell TVs.

Optimal Viewing Distance

The optimal viewing distance for this 65 inch 3D TV is approximately 8.4 to 10 feet. Keep in mind that if and when content with a native resolution of 3K is made available, this viewing distance can be lowered even further for an increased field-of-view due to the enhanced resolution of the content and the 3k resolution capabilities of the Cell TV. Be sure to read our guide on calculating the best viewing distance and screen size for your 3D TV for more information. It will help you correctly choose the optimal TV screen size and viewing distance for your home and might even save you some money!

Media, Internet and Other Connectivity

The Toshiba Cell TV Media Hub - Note: Not final production model. Credit - Theron Trowbridge

The Toshiba 65ZX900 is accompanied by a base media hub or “Cell” which connects to the TV via 802.11n WiFi for streaming HD wirelessly. The media hub also comes equipped with a monster sized 1TB hard drive for recording all your favourite shows and movies. You can also stream music, images and video over the WiFi HD. The hub also includes a Blu-ray disc player, DLNA digital media server capabilities and a built in camera, mic and videophone software.

The 65ZX900 is also internet enabled and includes “Net TV” via WiFi. This enables the streaming of 3rd party content such as Netflix, Pandora, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, CinemaNow and VUDU over the internet. With the Cell media hub, the Toshiba 3D Cell TV is no longer just an HDTV, but instead, it aims to provide a complete media solution for your living room. We must say that on paper, it looks like an awesome device with enormous processing power. This extra processing power also means that it can be improved over the years with firmware and software updates.

Price – Bang for the buck

At this time, Toshiba is yet to announce the 65ZX900 sale price. Stay tuned for updates!

The Verdict

At the moment, the Toshiba 65ZX900 Cell TV seems like a very interesting 3D ready television with a number of technological innovations over the competition. The inclusion of the powerful Cell processor in the media hub enables a number of advanced functionalities that is unique to the Cell TV. Additionally, the 3K resolution display is an industry first amongst the latest 3D HDTVs in the market. We are certainly excited by the potential of the Cell TV but the biggest deciding factor is going to be the price point. While it will certainly be more expensive than most regular 3D capable TVs, it will still be worth the investment if Toshiba gets the software for the media hub right and makes the entire home-theater experience a smooth one. It remains to be seen whether consumers will be willing to pay a large premium for a 3K display and the Cell processor hub. Ultimately, we believe that the success of the Toshiba 65ZX900 will hinge largely on the final price point of this 3D TV.