Toshiba is proving that the company isn’t just serious about making computers and various other electronic companies. Their TV division is more alive than ever before as it is bringing the fight to the still niche Ultra HD 4K category. The L9300U series now represent Toshiba’s flagship TV models and they are quite affordable too ranging from $2,800 to $16,999. But $2,800 is still quite expensive for a 58-inch TV and a lot of people will still care about standard 1080p displays with slightly smaller screens. That is exactly why Toshiba has highly affordable models like the Toshiba 50L7300U which still manage to score many features behind a 50-inch panel.
If a TV is priced below the average yet still has plenty of features, you can pretty much bet that the design of the TV isn’t so special. The 50L7300U indeed lacks that “Wow” factor as it features a 0.5-inch bezel with a gunmetal finish. A plain TV design is fine for a lot of people but not when there are more beautiful 50-inch displays out there. Toshiba needs to do a little bit more than just making the rectangular base look elegant and minimal. As you watch your favorite video content during the day, you will notice how minimal the reflections are all thanks to the semi-gloss coating on the panel.
At least on the connectivity side, the Toshiba 50L7300U should be able to handle the average home theater setup with 4 HDMI ports (3 on the side) and the usual digital audio and other inputs. Several of the inputs like the Ethernet port and perhaps the HDMI port on the back may not even matter because of the TV’s built-in wireless technologies.
Competing with the very best Smart TVs is challenging since these TVs have been evolving in online features and user interfaces for the past couple of years. But Toshiba is acknowledging the issue and taking a unique approach to deal with it. By including a free wireless keyboard in the package, people may very well have a reason to get this TV because this separate keyboard makes interface navigation and Web browsing a lot more convenient. The cool thing about this remote is that it is a separate accessory. Some remote controls may have a touchpad or perhaps a keyboard on the back and while that makes inputting text easier, the layout of these keyboards is still cramped. The Toshiba wireless keyboard, on the other hand, looks like a keyboard for an old netbook. Just make sure you set aside one USB port for the TV’s included dongle for the keyboard. When not in use, both USB ports can still be used to read flash drives. The 50L7300U is capable of playing back slideshows of images, video files and ordinary MP3 files.
Entering the Cloud TV experience is just a button away and the interface looks pretty good. It is easy to find which app you want to check out whether you are using the keyboard or just the standard remote control. The responsiveness can be a bit laggy at times and it is really because the Toshiba 50L7300U lacks a powerful processor.
The TV apps that a lot of people tend to care about are the online streaming apps. Fortunately, the 50L7300U offers all of the popular services including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU HD and CinemaNow. There are plenty more apps to browse outside streaming too like Facebook and Skype. The rest of the features make the Toshiba 50L7300U seem like one giant tablet as it has some functions like instant messaging (with other Toshiba TV friends) and a calendar.
A TV with built-in Wi-Fi isn’t so amazing these days since even the midrange TV models come with this feature. To make matters a bit worse, the Wi-Fi performance isn’t all that great so keep that wireless router close or get an Ethernet cable if possible. But the 50L7300U also has a couple of bright spots like the WiDi and Miracast support.
WiDi is a pretty cool but dated technology that allows WiDi-enabled laptops to mirror the screen to the TV without serious lag. Miracast offers a similar functionality although the technology applies to smartphones and tablets that have the feature.
The Toshiba 50L7300U is a pretty average Smart TV when it comes to performance and image quality. The CQ Engine video processor is the thing that does the most work as it tries to enhance the edges and image attributes to attain Cinema-like quality. While the black levels are not all that impressive, the 50L7300U does come with a great deal of customization and you can always stick with the basic presets and get pretty good results. The AutoView preset is the most appealing because the picture constantly gets adjusted depending on the lighting conditions. One of the nice things about the CQ Engine is its UltraClear Dynamic Noise Reduction technology and it does a great job in getting rid of unwanted visual noise while preserving the sharp visuals. The ClearScan 240 Hz technology also helps eliminating blur which can be great for sports channels. Audyssey’s Premium Suite of technologies are also present and they are more focused on sound balance and clarity. You may still need to get a sound bar if you are expecting something loud.
The Toshiba 50L7300U isn’t really a bad TV because of the cool feature list and the unique additions like the wireless keyboard and WiDi and Miracast really paint this TV as something that some people can actually want. But that shouldn’t stop the company from making beautiful and modern 1080p TVs in the future. If the next model features a dual-core or quad-core processor, a more interesting design and better deep black levels, the 50L7300U may just have a better fighting chance on a value standpoint. But don’t forget that this 50-inch TV costs under $1,000 at the moment. If you are looking for a TV that is good on online features, the Toshiba 50L7300U is a decent and inexpensive bet.
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