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Toshiba 32C120U review: Toshiba 32C120U

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The Good The 32-inch Toshiba 32C120U LCD TV is dirt-cheap. Its picture stacks up well overall against that of other 32-inch sets, with relatively deep black levels and uniformity along with solid bright-room quality.

The Bad In color accuracy, the Toshiba 32C120U is worse than many entry-level TVs. Design is also a low point, with a generic exterior and subpar remote.

The Bottom Line If you want the cheapest small TV with halfway-decent picture quality, look no further than the Toshiba 32C120U.

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7.4 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6
  • Value 10

Cheap TV comparisons are like cheap boxes of chocolate. As long as you temper your expectations, you never know what you're going to get. Toshiba's 32C120U is currently selling for the insanely low price of $250 on Amazon -- ranking it among the top few on that site's Best Sellers list for the last couple of months. Amazingly at this price, it doesn't suck.

In fact, in picture quality the 32C120U competes well against our current favorite 32-incher, the Samsung UN32EH4000. The Toshiba's main weakness, color accuracy, is easier to overlook when weighed against its advantages, including black-level and bright-room performance. It's not nearly as stylish as the fetching, thin-bezeled Samsung, but for this cheap at this size, how much do you really care?

If you like your small TVs the same way certain hipsters like their eyeglasses -- glossy black, thick of frame, and otherwise unadorned -- you'll have little to complain about in the 32C120U. The generic-looking set's only nod to panache is a faint grayish fade along the bottom edge. The unremarkable oval stand doesn't allow the panel to swivel.

Toshiba's tiny clicker is disappointing even for a TV this cheap. Its closely spaced warren of poorly differentiated, mushy keys is an error magnet. The 32C120U's menus aren't as bad, but the top-mounted navigation can be confusing in a world where everyone else stacks the main menu topics in a column on the left side.

Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight N/A
Screen finish Matte Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection No
3D technology N/A 3D glasses included None
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing No
DLNA-compliant No USB Photo/Music

The 32C120U's main extra is that it can display JPEG pictures and play MP3 audio files if you slap a thumbdrive into its USB port. Otherwise it's bare-bones all the way. The HD-minimum 720p resolution is probably 1,366x768 pixels, although Toshiba doesn't specify.

The backlight, unlike some cheap 32-inchers, eschews LEDs for old-fashioned CCFL illumination, and refreshes at a rate of 60Hz. Seriously, what do you expect for $250?

Picture settings: Actually, I didn't expect this level of control for $250. The 32C120U offers a nice array of tweaks, including the ability to adjust the grayscale slightly and choose from among a bunch of different gamma settings. The DynaLight backlight control is another nice little perk.

On the downside, only one of the presets, dubbed Preference, is adjustable; if you try to change any of the others (such as Movie or Standard) the mode switches to Preference without warning. I don't like that system at all, since among other problems it makes it all too easy to lose your settings by accident.

Connectivity: If you gaze upon the 32C120U's back, you'll count two HDMI ports, one each component- and composite-video, an RGB-style PC input, and a USB port. That's a standard array for a cheap TV.

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