Head to Head
A television and the internet may be the most unlikely duo since Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, merging in recent years to form something called the “smart TV.” While streaming content is fine and dandy, actually using that world wide web thing never works out quite the way we want it to. Scrolling, clicking, and typing—easy actions on your computer and smartphone—are lessons in futility on most smart TVs.
LG’s most recent Google TV, the GA6400, and Toshiba’s top-of-the-line LED, the L7300, want to solve your internet frustrations. How? LG packages a variation of its motion-controlled Magic Remote with the GA6400: One side has a scroll wheel and typical remote buttons (volume, channel, etc.), while the other side has a full QWERTY keyboard. Toshiba, on the other hand, gives you an ordinary remote and separate full-sized keyboard. Both are great ways to avoid using a TV’s onscreen keyboard, but which one is the victor in this most geeky of battles?
Round 1: Performance
Before we get into the internet stuff, let’s discuss picture quality—after all, what good is a TV if it can’t produce a decent image?
The LG GA6400 is clearly the winner when talking about color accuracy. Red, green, and blue look fantastic on this TV, plus there is no noticeable color temperature error. We can’t say any of this about Toshiba’s L7300, though. Greens look ideal, but reds and blues are off, which creates an inaccurate image. Further, the Toshiba exhibits a slightly bluish color temperature, giving whites and greys a cooler hue.
The L7300 makes up for its color errors with a great contrast ratio of 4,061:1. LED televisions aren’t known for getting very dark, but we're impressed with the L7300’s black level of 0.09 cd/m2. Sadly, LG’s GA6400 doesn't wow us with its contrast, although we're amazed at how poor its black level tested: an incredibly bright 0.27 cd/m2. Yes, we said LED TVs don’t typically achieve the darkest black levels, but this is pretty bad. Coupled with its bright screen, the GA6400 only manages to produce a contrast ratio of 1,075:1.
So one TV has much better color accuracy, while the other has way better contrast. Tie-breaker, anyone? When it comes to viewing angle… neither of these TVs are awe-inspiring. LG takes the win here with a 39° total viewing angle compared to the Toshiba’s 25° angle.
Winner: LG GA6400
Round 2: Typing
Now that performance is out of the way, let’s get down to business. Typing on a smart TV is the bane of a TV reviewer’s existence. The worst part of any TV review is when we connect to our wireless network and input our password, which is basically half the size of War and Peace. Doing this using a TV’s remote and onscreen keyboard has induced tears on more than one occasion.
So allow me to be blunt for a moment: LG’s Google-powered, QWERTY-loving Magic Remote is awesome. It’s one of the best smart remotes we’ve ever used, and yes, that includes you, new Samsung Smart Touch Remote. Connecting to a wireless network on the GA6400 took less time than any TV I’ve ever reviewed—seriously. We’ve seen QWERTY remotes before, most recently from Vizio, but that specific device suffered from a noticeable lag. This is not the case with LG’s remote.
That’s not to say the GA6400’s remote is perfect. People with big hands will probably feel cramped when using the small keyboard. Fear not, because Toshiba has you covered with a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard, complete with a touchpad on the right-side. We have to admit: This keyboard has great keys that feel satisfying when you press them. Unfortunately, there isn’t a good way to position the keyboard—typing on your lap will result in errors, for lack of an even surface. And most coffee tables aren't tall enough for comfortable coach-to-table typing—we can foresee back pain becoming an issue. These issues, plus moments of typing lag and the fact that a full-sized keyboard will clutter your living room, hinder Toshiba's offering.
Winner: LG GA6400
Round 3: Web Browsing
Remember when surfing the internet was a thing? Smart TVs are about to bring back that craze.
We need to reiterate that nothing on the market will satisfy your internet cravings like a fully-featured keyboard and mouse, or smartphone touchscreen. With that said, the LG GA6400 is a capable internet surfer. We already went over its excellent typing skills, but we should mention its other areas of expertise: scrolling and clicking. The Magic Remote’s dedicated scroll wheel and motion controls may not reinvent the mouse, but they do blow away your other TV web browsing options.
Can Toshiba’s keyboard compete? Well, not really, but let us explain. The built-in touchpad is an excellent idea, but don’t expect it to work like your laptop. Using one finger controls the mouse, while tapping with said finger will trigger a mouse click. Swiping up or down with two fingers can be used for scrolling. Our biggest complaint is the touchpad’s lack of sensitivity—an awful laptop touchpad would blow this one away. We applaud Toshiba for trying something different, and maybe next year’s iteration will be fully-realized.
Winner: LG GA6400
Grab an LG GA6400 and the nearest surfboard, because this TV will have you... OK, we'll stop. Whether it’s performance or internet capabilities, LG’s newest Google TV, the GA6400, is the winner of this vicious technological brawl.
We were razzled and dazzled by the GA6400’s internet savviness, not to mention its excellent color performance. We didn’t even get into this TV’s excellent smart platform, complete with voice controls, which you can totally read about here. What you need to know is that Google TV and Toshiba's CloudTV are radically different: The former looks slick and is loaded to the brim with features, while the latter suffers from a sluggish interface. We still like the Toshiba L7300, but the LG GA6400 is in a different league.
Winner: The LG GA6400