The Toshiba L7300U series of HDTVs deliver a solid LED backlit picture and are equipped with a slew of features, including a wireless keyboard, WiDi and Wi-Fi connectivity, and a 240Hz refresh rate. However, its relatively high price ($1,399.99 list price for the 50-inch 50L7300U we tested) does not match their middling performance. While you can find the 50-incher for under a grand, there are similarly priced sets available, like the Editors’ Choice, 55-inch Vizio M551D-A2R, that offer comparable features and better all-around performance.
Design and Features
The 50L7300U is a nice-looking HDTV, but it’s not nearly as stylish as the Toshiba 55L7200U model we tested last year. The 50-inch 1080p panel has a semi-gloss coating that reduces glare with minimal reflection. The 2.3-inch-thick cabinet sports thin (0.5-inch) glossy black bezels on the top and sides and a slightly wider bottom bezel decked out with a thin band of silver trim. A silver-colored rectangular base with a swivel hinge supports the 39.5-pound cabinet, and you can use the VESA-compliant mounting holes and an optional mounting bracket to hang the screen on a wall.
The 50L7300U has two USB ports, three HDMI ports, a digital audio output, and an audio input on the left side of the cabinet facing outward. Just below those ports are Power, Channel Up/Down, Volume Up/Down, and Input buttons. The back of the cabinet holds a set of shared component/composite inputs, an Ethernet port, a fourth HDMI port, an IR blaster port, an analog audio output, a PC/VGA video input, a PC audio input, and an antenna/cable coaxial connector.
The box comes with a 9.5-inch remote and a full sized wireless keyboard that uses a USB dongle to connect to the TV. The remote has a brushed silver faceplate and is crowded with 57 relatively small buttons and a four-way rocker panel. During testing, the set was noticeably sluggish when responding to commands from the remote. The keyboard, which measures 14.5 x 4.75 (HWD) inches and has a number pad and a small touchpad, comes in handy when searching for movies and TV programs and entering user IDs and passwords.
The 50L7300U has six picture presets including Standard, Game, PC, Movie, Dynamic, and AutoView (AutoView changes certain luminance levels depending on ambient light and screen content). You can also adjust basic picture settings like Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Color, Tint, and Sharpness. Advanced settings include Edge Enhancement, DynaLight (adjusts backlighting depending on content), ClearScan (240 Hz refresh), ColorMaster (hue, saturation, and color brightness controls), Color Temperature, and White Balance.
Toshiba’s Cloud TV platform integrates Web services, media player and photo apps, a program guide, a family planner, and a Web browser into one easy-to-navigate portal. Online services include social networking apps from Facebook and Skype as well as streaming video apps from Netflix, Hulu Plus, You Tube, CinemaNow, and VUDU HD. There’s also a full catalog of online services powered by VUDU Apps and several streaming news and interactive gaming channels. The 50L7300U supports Wi-Fi networking, but the set was unable to stay connected to any of our wireless access points here in the labs. It saw each access point and would connect for a brief moment, but each time it would lose the connection. The wired LAN connection worked perfectly, however. The set also supports Intel’s WiDi technology, which allows you to display content from a WiDi-enabled device like a notebook or tablet wirelessly.
We use a Klein K10-A colorimeter, SpectraCal’s CalMAN5 software, and the DisplayMate HDTV test suite to measure luminance levels and color accuracy. The 50L7300U’s peak brightness came in at a respectable 297.06 cd/m2, but its black level reading of 0.138 cd/m2 disappoints, as does its measured contrast ratio of 2,152:1. Similarly priced sets like the Vizio M551D-A2R and the Samsung UN46F5500AF offer better black levels (0.031 and 0.084 cd/m2, respectively) and higher contrast ratios (7,145:1 and 3,754:1).
Out of the box, color accuracy is good but not great. As shown on the chromaticity chart above, reds, greens, and blues (the colored dots) all overshoot their ideal CIE coordinates (the boxes), but not by much. The good news is that the TV’s ColorMaster settings allow you to fine tune each color, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you may want to leave this to a professional calibrator. As it is, the 50L7300U’s colors do not appear overly saturated and skin tones showed no evidence of tinting.
The set’s less-than-stellar black level performance made for some murky shadow detail while displaying scenes from The Bourne Legacy on Blu-ray. Fine details in the rocky cliffs in the mountain-climbing scene and in the dark background of the street in the Seoul scene were both muddy and hard to make out. If inky blacks are what you crave, consider an affordable plasma set like the Panasonic TC-P55ST50. Otherwise, the picture looked sharp and the panel provided wide viewing angles with no noticeable color shifting or darkening of the screen.
The 50L7300U used 103 watts of power during testing, which is pretty much in line with other big-screen LED backlit sets. The Vizio M551D-A2R consumed 97 watts and the LG 55LA8600 used 106 watts, but unlike the Toshiba and Vizio models, the LG TV has an energy saving mode that reduced power consumption to just 68 watts.
The Toshiba 50L7300U isn’t a bad HDTV—it just isn’t a great one. It delivers bright colors and wide viewing angles, and it offers a solid selection of interactive services with a wireless keyboard to make it easier to use them. However, its erratic Wi-Fi and weak black level performance coupled with a relatively low contrast ratio puts it at a clear disadvantage. It can’t compare with the Vizio M551D-A2R, which is less expensive, offers a larger screen and 3D capabilities, and remains Editors’ Choice for midrange big-screen HDTVs.
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, USB|
|Diagonal Screen Size||50 inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||240Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc