If you want to upgrade to a 4K TV, but are put off by their hugely inflated prices, then Toshiba's 58L9363 looks like a more tempting proposition on paper. Available for around £2,300, it looks like a bargain next to the likes of Sony's 55X9005, which will set you back around £500 more, but has Toshiba compromised on performance to hit such a low price?
Despite the 4K screen resolution, Toshiba has used the same menu system that it used on its Full HD TVs from 2013. On the plus side, these have a more logical layout than the menus on the company's 2012 TVs, so stuff like colour and motion processing settings are easier to find. The big downer, however, is how sluggish the menus feel when you're using them. They're so slow to respond that at times I was worried the remote control had stopped working.
The set's standard guide is behind the curve too. It doesn’t have a video thumbnail view, so you can't keep an eye on the programme you were watching when you call up the programming guide. The layout also looks bland, but at least it displays a lot of programming on a single screen so you don’t have to do as much scrolling around as on some competitors models.
Toshiba also offers a secondary Internet-enabled guide, that pulls in pictures and extra metadata about shows. It's very sluggish to start up though, and I found myself making do with the standard programming guide instead.
This set relies on Toshiba's Cloud TV system for its smart TV features. I quite admire Toshiba's grand vision for Cloud TV. It tries to bring together smart apps with social media services, such as Twitter and TiVo style suggestions for stuff you might want to watch. The execution leaves a lot to be desired though. The whole system is slow and cumbersome to use. It's also severely lacking in movie on-demand and catch-up TV apps. It does have iPlayer, Netflix and Blinkbox, but lacks 4oD, Demand5, ITV Player and Lovefilm, for example.
As you'd expect the set also has a media player onboard that can be used either to stream files across a network from a PC or NAS drive or to play them back from a USB connected hard drive. This plays 1080p files, but didn't work with the Ultra HD files I tried in H.264 MP4 and MKV format.
Design and connections
The 58L9363 doesn't look much like a telly that costs over two grand. The chassis is plasticky and although elements of the styling are pleasant -- such as the narrow bezel and rounded corners on the bottom edge -- the overall look falls somewhere between low-end and mid-range telly level. The remote is a let down too. The buttons feel spongy, which combined with the TV's sluggish menu system, leads to a pretty unsatisfying user experience.
This model has four HDMI ports, but currently none of these conform to the HDMI 2.0 spec, so they're limited to delivering 4K resolutions at up to 30Hz. Toshiba says it will release a firmware upgrade in the future to allow these to accept feeds at up to 60Hz, but this will be similar to the upgrades for Sony's X9005 tellies in that it'll compress some of the colour signal slightly to achieve these higher frame-rates -- unlike Panasonic's WT600B, which has a proper HDMI 2.0 port. It's not a massive let down, as most people won't be able to tell the difference, but it's still annoying for purists.