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

Toshiba 50L7300U Review: A 50-Inch LED HDTV With Wi-Fi
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You've seen us dramatically increase our display coverage over the last year, and now we're reviewing HDTVs too. Our first screen is Toshiba’s 50-inch L7300U Cloud TV with Wi-Fi. We run it through our lab and usability tests to see how it measures up.

The lines between computer monitors and HDTVs are pretty blurry. Aside from the most popular sizes, there aren't many technological differences between the screen on your desk and the TV in your living room. Nearly all desktop displays employ LED backlights. The same is true for large-screen HDTVs (and when I say large, I'm talking about 50 inches-plus).

In the not-so-distant past, a mainstream TV was 32 inches and high-definition meant 720p. Now, enthusiasts seem to start their research at 50 inches, while even the least-expensive models support 1080p.

Always value-conscious, Toshiba recently began shipping its line of Cloud TVs. The company sent over the 50L7300U for us to look at. This is a 50-inch LED edge-lit panel with a full array of network features. In fact, you could watch a tremendous amount of content on it with nothing more than an Internet connection. Selling at a list price of $1400 and a street price under $900, Toshiba's latest might just be a cord-cutter's dream display.

Brand
Toshiba
Model
50L7300U
List Price
$1400
Panel Type
IPS
Backlight
W-LED, edge array
Screen Size
49.5"
Max Resolution
1920x1080
Max Refresh Rate
240 Hz
Aspect Ratio
16:9
Response Time (GTG)
8 ms
Brightness (cd/m2)
443
Speakers2 x 10 W
HDMI
4
VGA
1
Component
1
Composite
2
Audio In
1 x 3.5 mm, 1 x RCA
Audio Out
1 x 3.5 mm, 1 x optical
USB
2 (v2.0)
IR Control
1 out
Panel Dimensions
W x H x D
44.8 x 29.2 x 9.5 in
1139 x 742 x 242
Panel Thickness
2.3 in / 58 mm
Weight
38.4 lbs / 17.4 kg
Warranty
One year

There are a couple of principal differences between HDTVs and computer monitors. First and foremost is that every television includes speakers and some sort of tuner. Believe it or not, those items are required by the FCC before a manufacturer can call its product a television. If they aren't part of the package, the device must be labeled “monitor.” Pioneer's now-discontinued PRO-141 and -151 plasma displays are good examples. They had neither tuner nor speakers, but were clearly marketed as televisions.

Another difference is video processing and scaling. While all fixed-pixel displays scale incoming signals to their native resolutions, HDTVs have more sophisticated video processing abilities used to handle the various cadences and refresh rates that exist in video-based content. This is a vast subject unto itself, and we'll go into more depth on page 11, along with a few tests we’re adding to our benchmark suite.

In addition to the usual image quality tests, which we tweaked somewhat, we’ll cover usability both for traditional content delivered via broadcast and Blu-ray, and streamed video, which the 50L7300U offers in abundance. We're retaining our response and lag tests because we know HDTVs are often the centerpieces for home entertainment. You probably won't connect a high-end gaming PC to this screen, but plenty of folks will hook up an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, we're sure.

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  • 2 Hide
    cats_Paw , February 5, 2014 12:57 AM
    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 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , February 5, 2014 2:12 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    cgsample , February 5, 2014 6:05 AM
    Does it "phone home" like LG?
  • -1 Hide
    BigMack70 , February 5, 2014 6:42 AM
    dat PPI *shudder*
  • 0 Hide
    toddybody , February 5, 2014 8:24 AM
    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 
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , February 5, 2014 9:14 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , February 5, 2014 9:55 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    ceberle , February 5, 2014 10:17 AM
    Quote:
    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 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , February 5, 2014 10:30 AM
    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 Hide
    n3cw4rr10r , February 5, 2014 12:09 PM
    I want to see a review on the Vizio 4K TVs :) 
  • 2 Hide
    toddybody , February 5, 2014 1:52 PM
    Quote:
    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 Hide
    ceberle , February 6, 2014 5:01 AM
    Quote:
    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-
  • 0 Hide
    georgekn3mp , February 6, 2014 12:27 PM
    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
  • 1 Hide
    TeamBLU 4K , February 6, 2014 2:09 PM
    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...
  • 0 Hide
    ceberle , February 6, 2014 2:10 PM
    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-
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , February 7, 2014 8:11 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    denzel4u , February 9, 2014 12:23 AM
    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 Hide
    TeamBLU 4K , February 9, 2014 11:43 AM
    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
  • 0 Hide
    glow hockey , February 9, 2014 4:05 PM
    Toshiba is one of the leading names when it comes to flat panel television sets. They owe this recognition to the various advancements they have provided to push the limits in what a TV can do. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.crittermap.airhockey
  • 0 Hide
    BulkZerker , February 10, 2014 12:43 PM
    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 :( 
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