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Toshiba 40E220U review: Medium thrills, small budget

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The Good The Toshiba 40E220U features crisp images with a decent amount of contrast. The TV offers a good value and is one of the better units under $500. Colors are well-saturated.

The Bad The TV shows uniformity problems and some of the colors are inaccurate. Shadow detail is lacking compared with the cheaper TCL P60.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba 40E220U is a value-for-money television offering decent contrast and bright, vivid colors.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6
  • Value 9

Back in 2008, Toshiba took a beating when its HD DVD format lost the format wars against Blu-ray. Four years later, the enforced focus on LCD has resulted in solid budget TVs like the Toshiba 32C120U and now the Toshiba 40E220U.

The Toshiba 40E220U is a sub-$500 television with a lot to offer the bargain-minded consumer. It has fairly deep black levels, a better selection of inputs than most competitors, and rich, vibrant colors. Image processing is quite good, with a crisp picture and very good off-axis performance.

On the downside, the Toshiba's shadow detail isn't as good as its competitors', uniformity is lacking, and the design is a little dated.

In short, while there are plenty of options at this price level, the 40E220U is a no-frills television with a fine picture.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The Toshiba 40E220U is a cheap TV and unfortunately it also looks like one. It sports a two-tone finish consisting of a black bezel with silver trim at the bottom -- a look that was popular several years ago but has since fallen out of fashion. The TV sits on an oval stand that doesn't swivel.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote is the same one that ships with the 32C120U, with squishy, closely spaced buttons. There are certainly better remotes than this if yours are ergonomic concerns.

Meanwhile, the TV's menu system is fairly basic with a black-and-green color scheme. Most irritatingly, control of one of the most important functions -- the light sensor -- is hidden inside the menu system, and if you don't disable it your picture will be too dim. Check our picture settings forum post to find out how to find it.

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

Unlike the smaller 32C120U, the 40E220U has a full 1080p screen resolution, but there's no further added functionality beyond that TV's fairly basic feature set. If you're interested in multimedia playback, though, the Toshiba can play back JPEG images and MP3 tunes via the USB port.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture settings: The E220 offers a number of possible tweaks, including the option to adjust the grayscale slightly and to choose from among a bunch of different gamma settings. The DynaLight feature adjusts the backlight control based on image content.

Annoyingly, if you try to change any of the presets (such as Movie or Standard) the mode switches to Preference, making it easy to accidentally delete your settings.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: The Toshiba 40E220U's inputs include two HDMI ports, one each component- and composite-video, an RGB-style PC input, and a USB port.

Picture quality
Just as the 32-inch Toshiba 32C120U has the best picture quality in its size, the 40-inch 40E220U similarly stands out among its peers. While you don't get plasmalike depths, the E220's black levels are good for the price, and shadow detail is acceptable.

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