How to buy the best TV
How to buy the best Toshiba TV
By Martin Pratt
Article 7 of 7
Toshiba is better known for making cheap TVs, but it still makes high-end sets, including OLEDs. With budget brands, such as Hisense and TCL, for competition and 4K sets from LG and Samsung getting cheaper, what does Toshiba have to offer?
Toshiba has been around for decades, making everything from microwaves to home video phones and, of course, TVs. In 2018 it covers everything from tiny HD Ready sets to advanced OLEDs at lower prices than LG and Samsung. In this guide you'll find out more about its TVs and the technology inside them.
While most of its contemporaries are abandoning HD TVs and TV DVD combis, Toshiba still releases them in large numbers. Many of these are smaller than 32 inches, which makes them a popular choice for people looking for a small TV.
It may be more well known for these TVs, but the models at the top of its range are at the cutting-edge of TV tech. Its 4K TVs use one of the newer HDR formats, and its flagship TV uses organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology.
Although Toshiba is a famous name, its TVs haven't been widely available in recent years, but more stores are now stocking them in 2018. If you're unfamiliar and wondering what Toshiba has to offer, keep reading to learn about the technology in Toshiba TVs and information on the different ranges in its 2018 line-up.
Toshiba TV technology explained
The technology that makes up Toshiba TVs is a mixture of unfamiliar features and some things that are common to most modern TVs.
Works with Alexa
This phrase is one we're going to see more and more, as voice control becomes a bigger part of many different tech products. Alexa isn't built into Toshiba TVs as it is with an Amazon Echo, but if you have one of Amazon's hubs you can use it to control most Toshiba's TVs.
You can use your voice for simple commands, such as changing the channel and selecting different inputs, but you can also use it to search through streaming apps for movies and shows. It's similar to what you can do with Bixby on Samsung TVs and ThinQ on LG sets.
Toshiba Smart Portal
All of Toshiba's TVs are smart, from the 24-inch HD Ready models all the way to its 4K OLEDs, and they all use the same Toshiba Smart Portal system to access streaming and catch-up apps.
It includes popular apps, such as Netflix, iPlayer and YouTube. You'll find Freeview Play functionality in the electronic programme guide, too, so you can scroll back through the previous week's TV and watch what you've missed without loading a catch-up app.
Wide Colour Gamut
This is TV brands' fancy way of saying their sets can display loads of colours. It's usually accompanied by a lofty figure of just how many colours the screen can replicate and, in the case of Toshiba, it claims that its TVs can show up to 1,024 shades per colour.
Generally, the more colours a TV can display the more accurate the colour, but it's not always the case. And as every brand makes these sort of claims, we always take them with a pinch of salt.
Dolby Vision HDR
HDR technology is relatively new to TVs, but there are already five different formats and many more variations and tweaks that manufacturers do in an attempt to give their TVs the edge.
Dolby Vision is one of the newer formats attempting to unseat HDR10 as industry standard. It's more than just a pretender: Dolby Vision improves on HDR10 in a key way by making the contrast adjustment dynamic rather than static. HDR10 has presets for each film which leads to some scenes looking too dark or too bright, obscuring detail. Dolby Vision can react to the demands of each scene to make sure the detail in 4K pictures isn't lost.
HDR content isn't widespread and Dolby Vision compatible video even less so, but many Netflix shows and movies support it, and if it becomes the new industry standard it will become ubiquitous.
The 55-inch X9863 OLED is one of the cheapest available. It launched at £1,299, which is £200 less than the OLED55B8PLA from LG. The display isn't the only advanced feature on Toshiba's OLEDs; they also support Dolby Vision, which is one of the newer HDR formats that improves on the current industry standard, HDR10.
OLED displays are widely regarded as the best for TVs and most brands, including LG, Sony and Panasonic, use them for their top-of-the-range sets. Every bulb in an OLED display is self-emitting and they don't require backlights, unlike LCD TVs. This means they don't suffer from light-bleeding and they are better at displaying motion.
The OLED range is one of the few to include Toshiba's Wide Colour Gamut technology. The more colours a TV can display, the more accurate and realistic they should look, but most manufacturers have some variation of this technology in their TVs and we know from our tests that it's no guarantee of lifelike colours.
As with all Toshiba TVs, the OLEDs support Freeview Play, so you can watch shows from the previous week from the electronic programme guide. This means you don't need apps such as iPlayer and ITV Hub to watch catch-up TV, but those apps and more are still available through the smart TV system.
As of November 2018, the 55-inch OLED costs £1,199 and the 65-inch version is £1,999.
The 7863 models make up Toshiba's XUHD range. The main difference between these TVs and the ones below is the Wide Colour Gamut. It means these high-end TVs should be better at displaying lifelike, natural images on screen, although it's not a guarantee.
They don't benefit from OLED screens though, so they may lag behind the X9863s when it comes to motion fluidity and contrast. They use LCD screens instead, so a backlight is shining on liquid crystals to create a picture. This can lead to light bleeding from bright areas of the screen into dark ones, but not always. Most of our Best Buys are LCDs, so this sort of display shouldn't put you off.
You'll be able to control these TVs with your voice if you have an Amazon Echo at home.
This range isn't currently available in the UK, but is coming soon according to Toshiba.
TVs in the U6863 range are still 4K, but they don't have the Wide Colour Gamut technology found in Toshibas higher up the range. They don't lose compatibility with Dolby Vision however and this advanced, contrast-boosting HDR format is one of the main advantages this TV has over budget rivals, TCL and Hisense.
TVs from those brands support HDR10, the current standard and HLG, which the BBC and other broadcasters will use to air HDR content. Toshiba's TVs supports those, too.
Considering the low price of the TVs (the 65-inch model is £779 as of November 2018) few corners appear to have been cut. The TV is smart, supports Freeview Play for catch-up TV without the need for apps, and you can record shows onto a USB hard drive, which some 2018 Samsung's can't even do.
Prices range from £779 for the 65-inch model to £369 for the 43-inch set. The 55-inch is currently sat at £529 and the 49 incher is £469. Prices are correct as of November 2018.
There's nothing obvious separating these TVs from the U6863DB TVs. The design is the same and the prices are very similar, too.
Both ranges are 4K, support Dolby Vision HDR and work with Alexa. Sometimes when ranges are very similar it's because one is exclusive to a certain store, and in these instances one series is usually a different colour or has a different base.
The U5863DB TVs are available in slightly different sizes. You can get a 50-inch model as well as a 49-inch one, but there's no 75-inch option as there is with the U6863DBs. This seems to be the only difference.
Being HD rather than 4K means these TVs don't support HDR. This isn't uncommon given that the only thing that can take advantage of HDR footage in anything other than 4K resolution is gaming, but we've still seen some HDR-capable HD TVs from Panasonic this year.
Other features don't fall by the wayside. You can still control the TVs with Alexa through an Amazon Echo, they are all smart and feature the same Toshiba Smart Portal that the 4K TVs use to access catch-up apps and streaming services. We've found that HD TVs often have inferior smart TV platforms that offer less customisation, but this doesn't appear to be the case here.
They are also available in a healthy range of sizes, from 49 inches down to 24. Most manufacturers don't make HD TVs larger than 43 inches or smaller than 32.