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Toshiba Cell TV: 3TB storage and eight tuners allow it to record everything on TV

We've been treated to a demo of Toshiba's orbital-end TV, which can record a week's worth of hi-def TV across eight channels and tell you what you should be watching

Ian Morris

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Toshiba first started to make a fuss about its super high-end, next-generation Cell TV at CES 2009, and since then it's actually gone on sale in Japan. Because it's such a revelation in television hardware, when it comes to the UK it will probably have a very different spec to the Japanese version. But it's too important a product not to look at in more depth, so that's precisely what we've done.

The headline feature of the Japanese Cell TV is its fantastic recording capacity. Fitted with 3TB of storage and eight HD tuners, it's designed to record every one of Japan's eight free HD channels, day and night, for a week.

That means you don't have to plan what to record, because Cell will have done it for you. What's more, because digital TV has comprehensive metadata that describes the content, it can present similar shows you might also enjoy. If you select, say, this week's episode of Lost, it would also give you the option to watch this week's episodes of Fringe, FlashForward and V.

Cell TV is powered by an incredibly fast processor -- the name comes from the chip, which gamers will recognise from the PS3 -- so it can also perform picture processing that isn't possible on normal TVs. Toshiba claims, for example, that it can turn 2D TV shows into 3D on the fly.

Picture quality is also top-notch -- with a native resolution of 3,840x2,160 pixels, it will be ready for the next generation of HD years before it arrives. Cell upscales 1080p video to fit this high-resolution screen, as you'd expect. The LED backlight is also a step up from traditional models. Cell has 512 dimmable LED zones, which means that you should get the best black levels imaginable and vibrant, stunning colour.

So what's the catch? Predictably, it's the price, which at the equivalent of £10,000 isn't likely to have the Cell TV flying off the shelves. Toshiba tells us it's assessing the British market to work out what features we need most, and what we're likely to pay for. Would you spend £10,000 on a TV? Let us know if you would -- we'd like you to add us to your will.

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Although Cell is a TV, it's actually two components: a screen, and a separate processing box that makes all the fancy tricks possible.
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The Cell processing unit has a plethora of tricks up its sleeve, such as turning 2D into 3D, but it also does normal things like Dolby Volume, which ensures that the TV volume is consistent across all channels and that adverts don't blast you with noise.
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The remote doesn't tell the whole story about how incredible this TV is, but it does look pretty funky.
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The inputs at the back of the processing box aren't that numerous, but rest assured this device holds eight TV tuners and can record a whole week's worth of hi-def TV on its 3TB hard drives.
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The user interface is unlike anything we've seen on a TV before. It's very slick, and offers loads of contextual options for suggesting content you might enjoy.

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