CES 2010: Toshiba CELL TV

POWER: Toshiba’s CELL TV blurs the line between TV and computer with unheard amounts of computing power integrated into an LCD TV. The top end XZ900 Series makes use of the company’s KIRA2 Super Local Dimming LED Display sporting a brightness of 1000 cd/m2, 512 controllable zones (5x that of previous local dimming models), and a 9M:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Let’s put that into perspective.

PERFORMANCE: A brightness of 1000 cd/m2 is quite bright and is roughly double the brightness of typical LCD TVs. Some companies (e.g. Samsung) with LED backlit LCD TVs don’t even mention brightness. The effectiveness of local dimming in improving contrast largely depends on the number of controllable zones: the more the better. The XZ900 features 512 controllable zones, which is 5x that of previous local dimming models according to Toshiba. And the results show in the stated dynamic contrast ratio specification: 9 million to 1. That spec leaves even OLED TVs in the dust. But I won’t get carried away by that huge number since dynamic contrast ratio has been abused by marketing departments for quite some time. Nonetheless, I expect the XZ900 series CELL TV to perform at the very top in terms of contrast.

3D CONVERSION: One of the most advanced features of the CELL TV is based on the CELL Engine that makes use of multiple eight-core 3.2GHz CPUs, delivering processing power that is roughly 10x that of typical desktop PCs. And compared to a typical TV on the market today the CELL TV’s raw power is 143 fold. The enormous amount of computing power is used for many things but the most remarkable is real-time conversion of any 2D content to 3D. Normal frame sequential systems provide 60Hz to each eye but the CELL TV pumps out at double the rate: 120Hz. Of course native 3D input is also accepted with support for MPEG4-MVC, RealD, etc. You will need to wear active-shutter 3D glasses. Regular 2D content makes use of Toshiba’s ClearScan 480Hz for motion-blur-free fast-motion video.

1080P CONVERSION: The CELL Engine is also enables True Super Resolution Technology that samples multiple frames and restores native pre-sampling signal curves and upconverts all non-1080p HD video content into 1080p. AutoView RGB technology makes use of the built-in ambient light sensor and a new RGB sensor and automatically adjusts brightness, contrast, gamma, sharpness, color saturation and color temperature.

WIRELESSHD: The XZ900 series comes in 55- and 65-inch sizes and is a two-piece system using WirelessHD to connect the display to the CELL set-top box. The Genesis Design, as Toshiba calls it, has a black brushed aluminum bezel and an acrylic trim. The external design isn’t the sexiest that I’ve seen (that goes to the LG LE9500 Series with an unbelievably-thin bezel) but still exudes quality with a chassis design that is simple and understated.

NET CONNECTION: With a built-in 1TB HDD and Blu-ray player a CELL TV can certainly be used as a home entertainment server. Other connectivity options include Ethernet (DLNA compliant) and WiFi N. The Internet connection can download streams from Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, Pandora, etc. And with Net Super Resolution+ the noise from highly-compressed online videos are reduced by separating and correcting image data. Video conferencing over IP is possible with an integrated video camera and microphone.

The announcement did not include a price but expect to pay dearly for a TV with 10x the power of a typical desktop PC. The CELL TV is expected to debut later this year. The CELL TV from Toshiba pushes the boundaries of what a TV is capable of and seems to have enough integrated horsepower to be future-proof for quite some time. Source: Toshiba, Wired