Toshiba 50L7300U Review: A 50-Inch LED HDTV With Wi-Fi

The Toshiba 50L7300U In Use

To put the 50L7300U through its paces with real-world content, we connected an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player and spun a few discs, giving us a chance to evaluate its picture and audio quality. We made one discovery right away: the TV does not accept DTS bitstreams; only Dolby Digital and LPCM work. The best bet is to set your source to output LPCM for everything. Since, most Blu-rays are encoded with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, you won’t hear them unless you convert to PCM first.

Movies

First, we checked out the latest Pixar film Monsters University. It is true that CGI content makes nearly any display look good, but Pixar goes beyond other animated filmmakers when it comes to fine detail and texture. Our favorite example is the flowing blue and purple hair on the Sully character. The 50L7300U displays every strand without jagged artifacts or edge enhancement. Wall textures also stand out, in particular. It takes a display with accurate gamma and solid contrast to capture fine color gradations like this, and the Toshiba excels.

Next we put in Iron Man 3. There is plenty of rich saturated color in this transfer and the 50L7300U shows it all without looking overblown or cartoonish. We really like the quality of fleshtones in close-up shots of Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey, Jr. During one dark sequence, when Tony Stark crash-lands in a small remote town, we decided to try the DynaLight and Dynamic Contrast features. Leaving Dynamic Contrast on Low works reasonably well. There is no clipping of shadow detail, but we could see the image brightness pump a little as the scene’s content changed. This is one potential side effect of any kind of dynamic contrast option. The TV has excellent contrast without it, so we left it off for the rest of our evaluation.

Our final film was Star Trek Into Darkness. Both this and its predecessor are filled with high-contrast and saturated color. The opening scene that takes place on an alien planet looks excellent. Despite all the vegetation being an almost-searing red color, there is no lack of detail. Many displays would show colored blobs instead of finely-textured vines and plants. Director J.J. Abrams is fond of tremendous contrast in all his material. Whether the content is dark or extremely bright, the 50L7300U renders every scene beautifully. This really is an excellent HDTV, especially when it's properly calibrated.

Cloud Content

The 50L7300U is marketed as a “cloud TV” so we expect it will be strongly considered by cord-cutters as an alternative to expensive cable or satellite feeds. Since Wi-Fi is built in and all the software is internal too, you can watch a tremendous amount of content with nothing more than an Internet connection.

To access the main screen, press the Home button on the remote.

You can see a row of options across the bottom and several windows showing the current signa,l plus other streaming options arrayed on the screen.

Like many smart TVs, the 50L7300U includes a browser. It also includes a Bluetooth keyboard so that you don't have to use the arrow keys on the remote to type, a major leap in convenience. This keyboard also has a touchpad, which emulates mouse actions. We found this to be frustrating to use. Often times, just as we were about to place the cursor over an object, it would suddenly jump to the upper-left corner of the screen. Mousing with any precision is nearly impossible. It’s much easier to use the tab or directional keys to make selections.

Our overall experience with the cloud apps was OK, but you need patience as you move through the different content. Even with a 60 Mb Internet connection and 802.11n Wi-Fi, we always had to wait for content to load. Once videos began, there were no interruptions. Image quality varies from source to source of course, but the fidelity of streamed content in general continues improving.

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  • cats_Paw
    A bit expensive. Give me a good plasma 50-60 inch, low input lag, no smart, wifi... maybe 3d and usb play, but even that not necesary for a low price and im sold (like maybe LG 50PN6500, althou most reviews say its not too good).Leds are a bit more pricey at 50 inch >D
    2
  • iam2thecrowe
    Toshiba have always made good stuff, i had a toshiba tv a while ago and it had a better picture and more picture adjustments than anything else on the market at the time.I fully disagree with the above about a plasma, regardless of input lag or whatever, the picture quality is total garbage with all the speckles, all plasmas have it.
    -2
  • cgsample
    Does it "phone home" like LG?
    0
  • BigMack70
    dat PPI *shudder*
    -1
  • toddybody
    Love Toms...truly.BUTWhy are they reviewing a Ho-Hum 1080p TV from Toshiba? Seems more up CNET's alley to review blase consumer tech. Tom's is special for it's in depth and technical reviews of less heralded techie gear (i.e., CPU/GPU/HDD/Special Peripherals/Technical Prototypes...etc) What Im really trying to say is, Where is Half Life 3 and nVidia Maxwell? :D
    0
  • cangelini
    Quote:
    Love Toms...truly.BUTWhy are they reviewing a Ho-Hum 1080p TV from Toshiba? Seems more up CNET's alley to review blase consumer tech. Tom's is special for it's in depth and technical reviews of less heralded techie gear (i.e., CPU/GPU/HDD/Special Peripherals/Technical Prototypes...etc) What Im really trying to say is, Where is Half Life 3 and nVidia Maxwell? :D
    Christian is writing Tom's Hardware-style display coverage for us, and doing a fantastic job applying the same deep-dive methodologies we use for other components to help quantify the strengths and weaknesses of monitors/TVs. Don't worry; you'll see us cover Maxwell when the embargo lifts on it ;) For Half-Life 3, you need to talk to Gabe.
    3
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    Toms, could you please confirm/deny if you actually tested that the Movie preset was the best and didn't just assume it was like many people do? While it doesn't sound like the TV model you tested has this specific issue, it's definitely something to keep in mind that the "Movie" preset may not always provide the best picture. I own a Toshiba 39L1350U and the Movie preset reduces the contrast and black levels considerably. To quote myself from the following post I made on AVS Forum:
    http://www.avsforum.com/t/1477874/toshiba-l1350u-series-2013/30#post_23923173

    "Using the same settings on both Game and Movie, via OCD-levels of eye-balling I found that Game and/or PC modes (which look identical) have similar white levels with backlight @ 50 compared to Movie's backlight @ 68. By comparison Movie's backlight setting had to be set to 40 just to get black levels similar to Game and/or PC with backlight @ 50. And for reference,"Standard" seems to be about the same as Game and/or PC except that the backlight @ 42 seems to equal Game/PC's backlight @ 50."


    For reference, CNET seemed to have assumed that the the "Movie" preset was the best when reviewing the L2300U (which is the same as the L1350U but in a different color) and then went and criticized the TV for having poor contrast and black levels. I just want to make sure Tom's doesn't make the same mistake in the future.
    0
  • ceberle
    Anonymous said:
    Toms, please do not just assume that the Movie preset is the best. I own a Toshiba 39L1350U and the Movie preset reduces the contrast and black levels considerably. To quote myself from the following AVS Forum thread post:
    http://www.avsforum.com/t/1477874/toshiba-l1350u-series-2013/30#post_23923173

    "Using the same settings on both Game and Movie, via OCD-levels of eye-balling I found that Game and/or PC modes (which look identical) have similar white levels with backlight @ 50 compared to Movie's backlight @ 68. By comparison Movie's backlight setting had to be set to 40 just to get black levels similar to Game and/or PC with backlight @ 50. And for reference,"Standard" seems to be about the same as Game and/or PC except that the backlight @ 42 seems to equal Game/PC's backlight @ 50."

    This also means that your calibration settings are most likely incorrect for Game mode.

    It's important to note that CNET made the same mistake by calibrating via the "Movie" preset when reviewing the L2300U (which is the same as the L1350U but in a different color) and then went and criticized the TV for having poor contrast and black levels.


    We did not assume that Movie mode produced the best contrast, we measured every mode to determine which was the best starting point for calibration. Our black level measurements take into account the full rendering of detail down to the lowest brightness steps. It's easy to drop the brightness control and measure a better black level but detail will be crushed. In the game mode, we couldn't get any better black levels than movie when you take detail into account. Check out the article where we talk about the use of dynamic contrast. That will give you a pretty good idea where the balance is between contrast and detail. Remember also that Game mode does not have the accurate color gamut or flat grayscale and gamma tracking possible in Movie.

    When referring to forum posts, a statement like "via OCD-levels of eye-balling" means that the writer is expressing an opinion, not facts arrived at by science. We suggest taking information like that with a grain of salt.

    And yes, our calibration settings would be incorrect in Game mode.

    -Christian-
    0
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    Quote:
    We did not assume that Movie mode produced the best contrast
    Could you please read the edit I made to that post? I attempted to remove (or at least greatly reduce) any accusatory wording I may have used.

    Quote:
    When referring to forum posts, a statement like "via OCD-levels of eye-balling" means that the writer is expressing an opinion, not facts arrived at by science. We suggest taking information like that with a grain of salt.
    I stated that I was quoting and linking to a post I made myself; if look at the user name of said AVS Forum post you would see that it is my own. Therefore I don't exactly appreciate it when you say that my results have no scientific merit and are purely an opinion...not all of us can afford multi-hundred dollar calibration tools just to provide exact numbers on what we're seeing. (for reference, I was not even the person that insisted on buying the TV, I would have been fine without one)
    0
  • n3cw4rr10r
    I want to see a review on the Vizio 4K TVs :)
    0
  • toddybody
    Anonymous said:
    Quote:
    Love Toms...truly.BUTWhy are they reviewing a Ho-Hum 1080p TV from Toshiba? Seems more up CNET's alley to review blase consumer tech. Tom's is special for it's in depth and technical reviews of less heralded techie gear (i.e., CPU/GPU/HDD/Special Peripherals/Technical Prototypes...etc) What Im really trying to say is, Where is Half Life 3 and nVidia Maxwell? :D
    Christian is writing Tom's Hardware-style display coverage for us, and doing a fantastic job applying the same deep-dive methodologies we use for other components to help quantify the strengths and weaknesses of monitors/TVs. Don't worry; you'll see us cover Maxwell when the embargo lifts on it ;) For Half-Life 3, you need to talk to Gabe.


    Christian did a great job, no issue with the article...just curious why (of all things) a random Toshiba TV gets the Tom's wax n' wash. Obviously, my whining can be attributed to an overabundance of first-world-white girl problems.

    Lastly, I did try to talk to Gabe about HL3...but apparently im no longer allowed to attempt contact after mailing him 3 of my fingers with a note written in blood and tears, asking:

    "Can you count to three now?"

    :D
    2
  • ceberle
    Anonymous said:
    I want to see a review on the Vizio 4K TVs :)


    We're working with Vizio to get samples of their new 4K screens. In the meantime, we have a Toshiba 4K HDTV arriving next week. Samsung is also looking good for future reviews. Definitely stay tuned!

    -Christian-
    2
  • georgekn3mp
    I can't wait to see and hope that is the Toshiba 58L9300U 4k UHDTV you review. I have had that set since November 2013 and it has almost exactly the same appearance as this set you reviewed. It is a great TV and one of the best values, from a name-brand manufacturer too. It does a great job of upscaling 1080p to 2160p, and I expect that will show in the review whether you review the 58", 65" or the huge 80" 4K set. It has all the features you reviewed plus a few more, including upgraded sound and speakers
    0
  • TeamBLU 4K
    BIG THANKS for giving us HDTV reviews now as well. You asked to suggest what you should cover in more detail in future HDTV reviews, so here's my take -I'm in the process of upgrading my media center to 4K by end of May, so I'm mostly interested in how to best integrate a high-end gaming desktop to a 4K 60Hz display.For example, what connectivity the TV allows to produce 4k 60Hz content, which graphics cards will support HDMI2.0, how did the PQ look playing a modern game in 4K, etc etc...
    1
  • ceberle
    Quote:
    I can't wait to see and hope that is the Toshiba 58L9300U 4k UHDTV you review. I have had that set since November 2013 and it has almost exactly the same appearance as this set you reviewed. It is a great TV and one of the best values, from a name-brand manufacturer too. It does a great job of upscaling 1080p to 2160p, and I expect that will show in the review whether you review the 58", 65" or the huge 80" 4K set. It has all the features you reviewed plus a few more, including upgraded sound and speakers
    It is indeed the L9300U model but in the 65-inch size. I'm looking forward to it as well!-Christian-
    0
  • CaedenV
    Come on Tom's! Surely there is something good in the world to write a review about!Smart TVs aren't even exciting to the general consumer market, meanwhile in the tech world it is a liability that we look to avoid. I welcome TVs which will eventually allow us to wirelessly display content from our other compute devices, but I simply want a display... leave things like UI and content to companies that know what they are doing.Anywho, I understand it is the doldrums of winter news... but you can do better.
    1
  • denzel4u
    Nice review, on future content, please include a section detailing the sets ability to function as a monitor for productivity and gaming as I am considering buying a 4K set as my primary monitor.
    2
  • TeamBLU 4K
    Quote:
    Nice review, on future content, please include a section detailing the sets ability to function as a monitor for productivity and gaming as I am considering buying a 4K set as my primary monitor.
    +1
    1
  • BulkZerker
    I'll be interested when I can get a TV like this for under $400. But by then 4k's will be $1200 and I'll want those instead :(
    0
  • georgekn3mp
    Anonymous said:
    I'll be interested when I can get a TV like this for under $400. But by then 4k's will be $1200 and I'll want those instead :(


    When 8K sets come out, I will buy one and sell you my 4K Toshiba for half price! Only $1400 then for late 2013 model ;)
    0