Talking to your TV certainly feels new, and the announcement at the IFA conference in Berlin that Toshiba Amazon & Alexa is adding to the OLED, 4K HDR and Full HD TV series is absolutely in Toshiba & # 39; s goal is to make the TV the entertainment center of the house again.
From 2019, Toshiba & # 39; s TV series Amazon Alexa has been installed. With access to Amazon's voice-controlled assistant, the range can offer a wide range of functions, some unique to Smart TV, but also as part of Alexa's broader skillset.
To date, Toshiba has not released an official release date for Alexa integration, but the technology will be available from 2019.
Currently, Toshiba's 65-inch OLED 4KHD TV sells about $ 3900 (£ 3000 / AU $ 5300), while the 65-inch LED TV is significantly cheaper at around $ 900 (£ 700 / AU $ 1250) – you have to wait until at least January if you want to experience the Alexa integration.
We tried the Alexa function on one of Toshiba's Ultra HD 4K OLED TVs. The display was astonishingly clear, with an extremely thin, wall-mounted monitor, making it a fantastic choice for anyone with limited space.
With super-thin edges, the TV offers a completely distraction-free view, away from all penetrating edges, and forms a cool, futuristic-looking center for your living area. The colors were lively, with a brilliant contrast and clarity of the image, making it an absolute joy to watch.
Although we saw the TV on a wall, it has a sleek, silvery standard that looks very sleek and stylish. However, the standard is rather narrow compared to the rest of the monitor, which makes it appear to be dangerously balanced – we imagine that most people want to play it safe and secure it on the wall, both for safety and for the aesthetic and space-saving benefits.
But that's enough about the TV, what about the voice?
When you use the integrated Alexa function for things like news and weather updates, the information appears on a darker panel on the right side of the screen, meaning it does not interfere with what you're looking at while it's still clear enough to read easily from your couch.
However, this side panel disappears quite quickly, so if you try to read information that Alexa has generated, you will find that you have to ask for it several times so that you can complete reading, and this could be particularly difficult for slower readers and people with poor visibility.
"Alexa, change the channel"
We tested a few simple commands and discovered that the remote microphone was very adept at picking up our voices from the other side of the room, although we sometimes had to repeat it. This was probably because the Messe IFA is so large. Alexa struggled to pick up our voices when the TV was at a high volume, meaning that it could take advantage of a more powerful microphone.
We also saw Alexa respond to a number of different accents and it did not bother to recognize the commands, making it fun and accessible to people with regional accents.
It was certainly a novelty to remove the remote, and simple commands such as & # 39; Alexa, turn the volume up & # 39; were seamlessly handled. However, when we asked Alexa to change the channel, it did not understand the assignment, so you might have to familiarize yourself with the specific phrases that have been learned to respond.
How exciting it is to tell your TV what to do, the need for a remote control becomes clear as soon as you want to see what's happening on all channels and scroll through it – so it's probably not a good idea to throw your remote control away not yet.
In addition to TV-based features, Toshiba's range of Alexa-accessible TVs has access to Alexa's complete skillset, meaning you can look it up again, play music and start apps. We have tested part of the knowledge of pop culture by asking & # 39; Who is Michael Jackson? & # 39;
This resulted in a neat, small Wikipedia-like access to the side of the screen, which is quite handy if you ever have to solve bankroof arguments about the age / marital status / nationality of different celebrities.
The future of TV
Being able to talk to your TV is exciting for even the hottest of technical experts, and the use of Toshiba's OLED TV with Alexa has really given us an idea of how the future of home entertainment will be in a few years' time. will probably look like.
Yet there are a few problems with the technology, which means that it is not the most seamless voice-controlled product we have seen before. Although Alexa seems to understand a number of different accents and languages, you still have to have a certain specificity when making assignments.
This is a problem with Alexa, and the wide world of voice activist assistants instead of the TV itself, and because AI makes it possible for Alexa to learn as time passes, we imagine that it will soon be able to understand more natural speech.
Although it is new to not have to use a remote control, there is something to be said for the tactile nature of skipping channels and feeling the buttons as you change the volume on your monitor – or the general audience will forget the remote completely near future is doubtful, but it seems the way in which televisions are on their way.
We also found that the answers to assignments on the screen should have been on the screen longer – it seems that most people would have trouble to fully record information within a few seconds.
Hopefully, in the future, Toshiba will allow users to adjust how long information appears on the side of the screen, making it customizable for anyone who needs a little longer to read.
However, we loved the novelty to ask your TV a question and let it be reacted via image and text, and we could see how useful this can be – how often have you watched the news or a documentary and had to look at your phone , frantically searching for information about the subject?
If Toshiba originally intended to make TV the center of the house again, it would seem that they have succeeded with this integration.
Being able to create commands, ask questions and start apps without using an external device is very liberating and it encourages you to step off the smartphone while watching your favorite program.
Or change one screen before the other is good, has yet to be determined, but 30 minutes away from social media temptation has never hurt anyone.
- IFA 2018 is Europe & # 39; s biggest technical show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the news and practical first impressions of new phones, watches and other technology as they have been announced.