Time was, Toshiba was one of the kings of television, sitting right alongside Sony in the cool-kid aisles at all the best electronics stores. But in more recent years, competition from South Korea has pushed in on its territory, and it has taken a while for the company to sort out a strategy that would put it squarely back in the game. But if the updates Toshiba has instituted for 2014 are any indication, the company is poised to take back a sizable chunk of the market it once dominated. This year, the company is bringing faster, more cutting-edge technology that it has developed in-house, utilizing fewer “off the shelf” parts for a new line of of televisions that feels much more like the Toshiba we once knew. Not only that, but prices promise to be competitive as well.
Headlining the company’s television line is its Ultra HD collection, with 50, 58, 65 and 84-inch models, set to come available sometime this summer. Toshiba’s L9400U series comprises the 58 and 65-inch screen sizes, and includes the company’s own “Radiance 4K Full Array” LED panels and “Quantum Black” local dimming technology for visibly improved brightness and black levels. The panels are driven with an updated image processing chip, which employs resolution restoration for lower-resolution content, motion interpolation, detail enhancement, color processing and and noise reduction. The sets are particularly notable for being DirecTV ready. It isn’t clear how exactly the feature works, but Toshiba tells Digital Trends that a set-top box and separate remote will not be necessary to enjoy all the benefits available with DirecTV’s Genie HD DVR. Likely, recorded content will be stored in the cloud.
The 84-inch beast in Toshiba’s line is the sole model in the company’s L9450U series, and includes all of the company’s goodies, save the Radiance 4K panel, which is replaced with the company’s best local dimming LED panel.
For those looking to make a more conservative jump in 4K from 1080p televisions, Toshiba offers its more affordable L8400U series, which doesn’t feature local dimming or full-array backlighting, but still offers a pretty impressive picture. The series includes 50 and 58-inch models.
Common to all of the above is Toshiba’s improved Smart TV with Cloud Portal, which is significantly faster and more visually compelling than last year’s version. Navigating the interface is far less sluggish than we experienced with last year’s models, and new 3D animations give the layout a more modern, engaging look. The TV’s feature voice control, though we didn’t get a chance to test-drive the feature, and Toshiba has also upgraded its built-in audio systems by using the space within the televisions’ cabinets for a labyrinth porting system designed to improve bass response and create a fuller sound.
Finally, the company’s 1080p HD lineup is topped by its L7400U series, which includes the same full-array, locally-dimmed backlighting found in the company’s 4K line. Sizes include 47 and 55-inches, and the series will be DirecTV ready and armed with Smart TV features.