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Toshiba’s 55in glasses-free 3D TV hits the street

Although Toshiba's ZL2 TV was unveiled a while back, the company announced today that it will officially go on sale next week - Monday 12 March. The ZL2 will be available to order exclusively from Oxford Street branch of John Lewis, where prospective customers can view the screen as part of a custom showcase.

Many consumers are put off 3D TV adoption because of the need to wear glasses, especially those consumers who already need to wear prescription glasses when watching television. As such, the idea of glasses-free 3D is quite compelling, although it has to be said that the effect is far more subtle than either active or passive glasses systems.

The ZL2 can also upscale 2D content to 3D in real-time, and will feature user-definable depth control to the 3D, giving you the option to find the right level of depth for you, just like with a Nintendo 3DS. However, the difference with the 3DS is that it's just you looking at it, whereas there could be multiple viewers of the ZL2.

As well as offering a glasses-free 3D experience, the ZL2 is also a Quad Full HD screen, also commonly referred to as 4K2K, relative to the 3,840 x 2,160 screen resolution. This increase in resolution should, in theory, produce even sharper more detailed images than we're currently enjoying with our Full HD TVs. However, the big issue with Quad Full HD right now is a complete absence of content.

To be fair, it's not really the TV manufacturers at fault, since they're only making the viewing hardware, it's the companies responsible for the source material that are lagging behind. That said, until a 4K2K standard is agreed upon, we'll be waiting a while yet.

At least the ZL2 does a fine job of upscaling Full HD content to Quad Full HD. The demo that Toshiba was showing off was very convincing considering how much work the Resolution+ system was having to do. But it's worth remembering that many consumers are still watching a lot of standard definition, and upscaling standard definition content to 3,840 x 2,160 will be a very big job indeed.

Toshiba did say that it would try to arrange a demo for us, showing the ZL2 upscaling from SD to Quad Full HD, which we're very keen to see. Toshiba's upscaling technology has always been impressive, so we'll keep an open mind.

So, assuming you walk into John Lewis and fall in love with the ZL2, how much damage will it do to your credit card? With a price tag of £6,999, the ZL2 is undoubtedly expensive, but when has being an early adopter not been expensive?

Riyad has been entrenched in technology publishing for more years than he cares to remember, having staffed and edited some of the largest and most successful IT magazines in the UK. In 2003 he joined forces with Hugh Chappell to create They built TR into the UK’s market leading technology publication before selling the title to IPC Media / Time Warner in 2007. As Editorial Director at Net Communities, Riyad will be helping to develop the publishing portfolio, making IT Pro Portal the best publication it can be.