I love this time of year. The evenings are getting lighter, the days are hotting up, and all my favourite technology companies are giving me a first look at their 2012 offerings. Last week, it was off to the England team’s pre-match hotel of choice, The Grove in Hertfordshire, for a knock about with Toshiba’s latest kit. Ok, no more football puns, I promise…
If you happen to have a spare £6,999 hidden behind the sofa, you could snap up the star of the show, Toshiba’s ZL2 Quad HD, glasses-free 3D TV. And if you haven’t, you can make do with these pictures of it or press your nose up against the window of the John Lewis Oxford Street store, where the 55-inch screen went on sale today.
The Quad HD bit means that it’s got four times as many pixels as your standard 1080p HD TV, so the images are super-douper sharp. I watched some stills of a lady tossing her hair about and I could see every split end. Unfortunately, your Sky/Virgin/Freeview box won’t offer up a Quad HD picture yet, but the ZL2 will upscale standard and HD TV, as well as Blu-ray content, and family photos will look amazing on it.
The glasses-free 3D is interesting – a built-in webcam detects faces, allowing the TV to create 3D ‘sweet spots’ for each person watching. You’ll see two circles at the top of the screen, and you need to adjust your head until they disappear. You’ll then see the perfect 3D picture without glasses – all the better for checking your text messages while watching Avatar, eh? I found the 3D picture impressive, but keeping your head in the sweet spot might come as a bit of a challenge to fidgety folk. Hmmmmm.
Back in the real world, the rest of Toshiba’s TV line up is thankfully more affordable – my pick is the RL range, with 23”, 32” and 40” 1080p (Full HD) LED screens. These are Toshiba’s entry-level Smart TVs, which give you access to Facebook and Twitter, let you watch BBC iPlayer and YouTube clips, buy and watch movies via AceTrax, and also sporting tournaments through the LiveSport.TV service. With the 40-inch version coming in at under £530, they look to be great value for money.
I liked the built-in WiDi feature, which lets you links the telly wirelessly to any other WiDi device (like a Toshiba laptop) so you can see your computer screen on the TV screen. It’s a handy feature for viewing videos, photos and online shows without having to crowd around a small screen.
And talking of small screens, Toshiba had a clutch of new laptops for us to look at. The Satellite P850 ‘premium home entertainment laptop’ caught my eye, and not just because it’s so connectable with its 4 x USB3.0 ports (that’s the newer, faster download kind), built-in Bluetooth, HDMI port, and so on. It’s also got amazing sound courtesy of its premium Harman Kardon speakers with surround sound, and great picture quality thanks to a HD, backlit 15.6-inch LED screen, faster Intel processors (for a less juddery picture), a state-of-the-art NVIDIA graphics card and a built-in Blu-ray player.
One thing I love about this laptop is that, even when it’s turned off, you can take advantage of those snazzy speakers and use it as an iPod dock with Sleep-and-Music. Just plug in your MP3 player via a 3.5 jack cable (it fits in where you’d usually plug in the headphones), and voila, out pop your favourite tunes. It’s also got a brother, the P855, which comes with a glasses-free 3D screen, but unless Toshiba also throw in a lifetime’s supply of paracetomal, I’m not tempted to invest – it’s certainly not a patch on the ZL2 TV. There’s no pricing yet on the P850, but it will be available before June and my instincts tell me you’ll be looking to pay at least 600 English pounds.
Aren’t these NB510 netbooks cute? And they’re excellent value at around £220. For that you’ll get a tablet-rivalling 9-hour battery life, LED-backlit screen, stereo speakers and a dual-core processor that’s fast enough that you can enjoy video without the egg timer of doom appearing very two minutes. Oh and there are ports – lots of lovely ports. I spotted 3x USB2.0, 1x HDMI (for hooking your computer up to your digital camera, HD video camera, etc), microphone and headphone inputs, among others. Word on the street, or rather at the Grove, is that they’ll be out any time now.
Last but not least, my novelty pick is this 1080p camcorder, the Camileo Clip. Out in April, it will cost around £79.99 and has a ‘ruggedised’ rubbery outer shell to make it splash- and drop-proof. Use the ‘clip’ (which doubles as a screen guard) to fix the camera to your clothes or belt and film your own first-person adventure. Call me Norville Barnes, but I think it’s perfect for kids – for one, it’s trickier to break/lose than a smartphone.
The button on top starts and stops recording, and you can forward, rewind and flick between shooting 1080p HD video and 5MP stills via the four-way control on the front. Toshiba is planning to release a helmet and handlebar mounting kit for those who want to film their skiing exploits or a Tour de the local shops. You could even clip it to the cat and see what it gets up to all day… well it has to be better than Geordie Shore, surely?