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Toshiba 39L1350U LED TV Review$499.99
Beware of deal
The L1350U series from Toshiba provides bright TVs for thrifty buyers. By omitting bows and frills such as 3D and WiFi, even the 50-inch version sells for under the $1000 mark (by $300). This line comes in 23-, 29-, 32-, 39-, and 50-inch sizes.
Before your eyes turn to dollar signs you should read on, though; while the 39-inch model we tested (MSRP $499.99) actually sort of astonished us with its hefty contrast, the color performance sobered us back up in a jiffy—and that's just one of several significant problems we noted with this TV's picture.
Almost fell asleep trying to write this Design sub-header
If you asked your toddler to draw a TV, that lil' baby would come up with the same design stratagem that Toshiba did. The black rectangular stand has a matte finish and collects dust in its free time. The black rectangular panel has shiny bezels that aren't particularly thin, and a little circle that glows green when you turn the TV on. This is not an ugly TV, it's just uninventive. The remote fits right in, free of any glowing features or helpful colors (aside from the red power button).
Everyone knows that when you spare your billfold a beating, you also lose out on fancy frills. Along with the TV's dull design, you must also suffer the absence of 3D, internet capabilities, and glow-in-the-dark objects, the latter of which stings the most. Nor will you find an actual equalizer or extensive picture controls.
This series also features Toshiba's "half mute" function, which cuts volume in half with one click, and mutes sound entirely with another. Then there is DynaLight, which adjusts backlight according to content, and HDMI-CEC, which communicates with Toshiba disc players so that users can control them using a single remote.
Amazingly deep blacks, but beleaguered by crummy color
In short, the L1350U does not deserve a golden TV trophy. When testing began, there were some initial surprises; this TV lights up like a beacon, and swoops into some impressive black levels as well. Deep black levels? This is rare for LCDs in general, and even more so for budget models like this one. With such a generous array of darks and lights at its disposal, the L1350U finds itself well-equipped for the task of rendering detailed, lifelike images.
And if you think the tomatos stop flying there, they don't; the viewing angle on this LED follows the technology's trend, meaning it's narrow. If you sit too far from the center, you will begin to lose that wonderful contrast we mentioned a moment ago. But perhaps the worst aspect of the L1350U's performance was its motion. Fast-moving, detailed objects suffered a juddering, blurry effect. Given these last two failings, this display is certainly not a great choice for sports lovers.
More of a bust than a bargain
It's frustrating that such spectacular contrast on an affordable TV should go to waste like this. The L1350U (MSRP $499.99) renders some truly beautiful blacks, but its colors just can't keep up. How sad! Like a magnificent race horse with a fear of circles... But in practical terms, regular content appeared washed out and unrealistic, and even Blu-ray discs lacked vibrancy of color. What a waste!
Don't be wooed by this TV's pretty price tag. Trading greenbacks for goodies is one thing—not everyone needs 3D—but when it comes to picture quality, don't settle for this. Even in the bargain bin, there are better TVs than the L1350U.