Toshiba 50L5200U LCD TV Review
This model just can't compare to Toshiba’s L7200U flagship series.
I recently reviewed Toshiba’s flagship series for the year 2012, the L7200U, and it proved to be a high-quality smart TV for a comparably low retail price. In that regard, I was eager to see if the mid-range L5200U series would match that same quality.
Unfortunately, the 50L5200U (MSRP $1099) showed some mixed, but generally unfavorable, results. It tested with strong screen dynamics and a healthy contrast ratio, but most of its other core performance features were either dead average or quite lackluster. The Toshiba 50L5200U is not a bad TV, but its performance parameters are not great when you consider that it offers no 3D or smart support, and is thus just okay at the one thing it’s capable of doing.
Toshiba’s affordable, mid-range L5200U series doesn’t have the classy look of the company's flagship, but it’s also not an ugly television.
Where its design parameters are concerned, the Toshiba L5200U is pretty average looking (better than ugly average looking, eh?). Like their L7200U flagship series, the L5200U features the “Aero Wing,” a strip of curved, thin metal along the bottom of its bezel. Unlike their flagship, it doesn’t have a bezel-less design schematic, nor is its stand overlaid in glass. Other than the wing, it’s a very hum-drum sort of TV with traditional placement of ports and on-set controls. Oh, and it doesn’t swivel, which sucks.
Still, for the price range, it’s the kind of TV you can set up in most rooms without worrying about it being an eyesore or stealing the spotlight from your more daring home furnishings.
As far as ports are concerned you’ve got one dedicated USB for media playback, digital and analog audio outs, 3 HDMI, composite and PC audio ins, standard cable and VGA jacks, and a single component input.
Smart TV Features
Expect simple, if boring, menu systems.
While many TVs that grace our labs have extra features—3D display, or internet connectivity, or a fancy smart platform with streaming content—the Toshiba 50L5200U doesn’t have any of that. Beyond a single USB playback input, it employs very simple and aesthetically boring menus that function just well enough to allow for basic changes to things like picture settings and sound preference.
This Toshiba falls flat where it matters most.
The L5200U tested with uniform but choppy color curves, a very skewed overall color temperature that’s much cooler than it should be, a sub-par color gamut performance, a below average viewing angle, blurry and choppy motion, and poorly integrated speakers that deliver tinny, compressed audio.
Unfortunately, most of this TV’s specs are below average, or are just plain bad. It’s may have strong black/white differentiation, but its color accuracy is off the mark. Motion-heavy content is going to look blurry and strain the TV’s abilities, and your cinematic experience is going to absolutely require some kind of external speakers to make up for such poor audio.
Toshiba’s flagship, the L7200U, proved to be an affordable and high-quality TV. It’s a shame that the company's mid-range series wasn’t manufactured with the same quality of craftsmanship.
Overall, the Toshiba 50L5200U is a mediocre television.
From the outside, the Toshiba 50L5200U appears to be a fine, affordable TV. It has a plain appearance, is easy to set-up, and follows smart guidelines as to its port and on-set controls placement. While the remote that ships with it looks quite retro, the TV’s menu and USB functions operate without a hitch, and overall it makes for an intuitive, simple package.
Unfortunately, the L5200U struggled with many of our tests. In regards to color accuracy, it performed rather poorly. On the plus side, it had uniform, smooth color curves that showed only a little banding. The L5200's maximum contrast ratio ranked above all the comparison models we pulled for it, including the L7200U, Toshiba’s flagship.
It has very few performance features that are worth getting excited about, and it's a difficult to calibrate and ease of use is lacking when dealing with its connectivity features. The 50L5200U also tested with steeply below average audio.
If you’re just in the market for a decent TV at a budget price (MSRP $1099), you could do worse than the Toshiba 50L5200U. But keep in mind its poor audio, tiny viewing angle, and picture quality shortcomings when you’re deciding where and how to use it.
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