Every January, big tech and consumer electronics companies compete for attention at the Consumers Electronic Show. This January 2013, TV manufacturers once again took the spotlight and it isn’t 3D technology this time around. Their flagship products consist of very large TVs with 4K resolution which boast 4 times as many pixels as a standard 1080p display. TVs look like they are heading the same route as the smartphones and tablets where high resolutions matter even more. Being a hot new technology, 4K displays started off very expensive with a handful of models going well over $10,000. Toshiba is one of the companies that announced a family of 4K displays and their 65-inch Toshiba 65L9300U is the midrange model. $9,999 is not exactly a midrange price but companies are finally coming around and dropping the prices to more affordable levels. In fact, the 65L9300U is currently the most affordable 65-inch TV right now after the price was recently dropped to only $3,999.
The Toshiba 65L9300U isn’t really the most attractive 65-inch TV but it looks better than most budget 65-inch 1080p TVs. It has the thin gun metal bezel which is pretty much the most important characteristic in making the TV attractive to look at.
Of course, other competing 4K displays have thin and nicely designed bezels too but the Toshiba 65L9300U strives to be a little different by having a unique stand. Rather than having a solid rectangular base, the 65L9300U features a rectangular frame for its base which adds some elegance. Overall, Toshiba didn’t pull any gimmicks here and that is fine for those that want a sleek and simple TV. In addition to the common arrangement of 4 HDMI and 2 USB ports, the Toshiba 65L9300U has a few extra ports like the SD card slot and IR blaster out. These ports are not normally present in 4K and high-end 1080p displays these days.
To compete against the other high-end mainstream TVs, having a 4K panel just isn’t enough. This is why Toshiba worked hard in designing the Cloud TV Portal interface which pretty much powers the TV’s online features. The built-in Wi-Fi functionality means that getting this TV connected is a cinch.
Accessing the home screen is just a button press away on the remote control. The design of the home screen is pretty organized with a preview of the active input along with a section for the date, events and news and an inbox section. The inbox section is the most useless part of the interface since it isn’t an email inbox but rather an inbox for Toshiba’s proprietary Cloud TV platform. This means that you can only receive messages from other Cloud TV users.
There is a menu bar just above these sections and it is quite easy to navigate. But the interface is bit sluggish and there is noticeable lag when launching apps. As far as apps go, there is a decent selection of downloadable content including the common streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, YouTube and Vudu. There are a handful of BBC apps too as well as a Skype app although you will have to buy a special camera accessory for Toshiba TVs in order to use the video chat feature.
On the upside, the Cloud TV Portal has some nice built-in Twitter integration. The home screen has its own Twitter window which uses a special algorithm in displaying top trending TV shows. There is also a highly extensive and customizable Media Guide where you can discover all the nice things on TV along with their schedules.
The 65L9300U also has another wireless trick up its sleeve and it is built-in WiDi support. This allows any laptop with WiDi support to wirelessly link to the TV as if it was connected through HDMI. You can mirror the laptops screen or extend the desktop without the messy wire. Miracast is built-in as well so supported smartphones and tablets can mirror their displays wirelessly too.
3D functionality is baked into the display as well so you can connect any 3D Blu-ray players and other components to make full use of their capabilities. But this isn’t required thanks to the TV’s Trivector feature which does a decent job in giving 2D visuals a 3D effect. This effect is even applied to the menus and makes the experience far more interesting.
There is also an option to lock an HDMI input which could be useful if you want to impose a time limit for using a connected gaming console. Called “Game Mode”, this feature is useful for parents that want to tone down the kids’ gaming habits.
The Cloud TV Portal may disappoint on the performance side but the TV’s dual-core processor still plays a major role in powering the 4K panel. Toshiba even gives this combo a special name – CEVO 4K. This technology works well and native 4K content looks terrific on this display. As for 1080p and lower resolution content, another technology fancily named Color and Depth Adaptive Resolution+ kicks in and does a great job in not only upscaling the content but also optimizing the color and contrast. You can further tweak the picture quality by using Toshiba’s CQ Engine which consists of a number of calibration options from edge enhancements to dynamic gamma and noise reduction. The refresh rate of this TV is 240 Hz too and it is all thanks to Toshiba’s proprietary ClearScan technology which does a nice job in reducing blurring when high-speed segments are shown.
The Toshiba 65L9300U is a TV with a pretty weak “Smart TV” experience but potential buyers will primarily be after the 4K features and fortunately Toshiba does remarkably well in that area. It is a great 65-inch TV with a nice design and the low price makes this one of the top 4K recommendations. You will have to spend hundreds of dollars more on a TV that decisively beats the 65L9300U in key features. Toshiba still has a chance to fix the Cloud TV Portal by means of software updates anyway.
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