That's right, you read the headline correctly: Toshiba just claimed to have created the first upscaling TVs, the Regza 42ZV555D and 46ZV555D LCDs. With such bold boasts flying around the Internet, we feel like making a few ourselves. Did you know we invented blogging? Or that without Crave, there would be no Moon? No, we didn't think so, either. But we've looked into it and it's true. Honest.
Let us explain why we're stroking sceptical cat here. All HD Ready TVs have upscalers built in, because if they didn't, when you came to watch something that was shot in a resolution different to that of the screen, you'd end up with a postage stamp-sized bit of video. If you were watching something with dimensions of 720x576 pixels, it would float in the middle of a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen. We've lovingly demonstrated this concept in our image above.
In a high-definition TV, the smaller, standard-definition image is stretched to fit the full screen resolution. The TV's upscaling hardware will also apply some video processing to make it look as good as possible. It will do some additional processing to turn a standard-definition, interlaced picture into a progressive one, because LCD and plasma TVs can only display a progressive image.
The magical widget that handles the upscaling in this TV is based on the Cell processor, which Toshiba co-developed with Sony Computer Entertainment and IBM. For those who aren't up on their computer processors, the Cell chip is most famous for its starring role in the PlayStation 3. The logic behind using such a powerful processor is that by increasing the power available for upscaling, the quality improves. To demonstrate how well-suited Cell is to video decoding, Toshiba has demonstrated it decoding 48 MPEG-2 video streams simultaneously.
So, what we think Toshiba meant to say was: "This is the world's first Cell Broadband Engine-based upscaling TV." To be fair, that doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, nor does it sound impressive. Anyway, with our punitive satchel slapping complete, we'll be glad to explain what the TV does, and how.
In the Regza 42ZV555D and 46ZV555D models, this fancy upscaling technology goes under the trendy brand name 'Resolution+'. This features alongside a 10-bit LCD panel and contrast ratios of 30,000:1 on the 46-inch model and 17,000:1 on the 42-inch TV. Toshiba's Active Vision M100HD picture-processing mode also makes an appearance, to ensure all of your content looks great on your shiny new screen.
The TV also does 5:5 pulldown, which should make movies look as close as possible to the way the director shot them. There are also three HDMI sockets, each 1.3a compliant, to get your video on-screen without you having to ferret around at the back and unplug things constantly. We got a chance to see the technology in the ZV range of TVs at IFA this year, and it really is rather good. We were very impressed by how good the standard-definition video looked and we think Toshiba has a winner on its hands here, in spite of the way it's chosen to market the TVs.