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Toshiba L5200U review: Toshiba L5200U

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The Good The Toshiba 5200 series has good all-around performance for the price, with relatively good black levels and shadow detail and minimal uniformity issues.

The Bad Color accuracy is a problem, with occasional greenish midtones. The backlight can fluctuate slightly between light and dark material. Unlike some TVs at this price level, there's no 3D or Smart TV.

The Bottom Line The bare-bones Toshiba L5200 series offers respectable value for the money with fine picture quality for an edge-lit LED TV.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6
  • Value 7

A couple of months ago, I asked how much you would pay for a new television. Unsurprisingly, half of the respondents said under $1,500, and almost half again said under a grand. Well, if that's you, the Toshiba 5200 LED-based LCD series might be a TV to consider.

While it doesn't have many features to speak of, unless you count 120Hz, it does boast decent picture quality for the price. Black levels are better than many of its nonplasma peers can conjure up and shadow detail is fairly good. The main picture quality drawback is color, if you want Skywalker Ranch-style accuracy you're better off going for a different brand. The Toshiba's odd color and grayscale controls make it difficult to wrestle something more faithful than the TV's oversaturated Movie mode. If you're paying about a grand, I would still say you should seriously consider the Panasonic UT50 instead, but the Toshiba does a decent job of home entertainment for the modest price.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the Toshiba 50L5200U, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

When you've been following TV design closely over the last few years, you begin to see patterns and perennial trends. Silver-and-black bezels bled into piano black and then recently into metallic finishes. But you don't have to look that hard at the Toshiba to see it looks like a lot of other TVs. That is, it features a piano-black bezel with a subtle, silver triangle at the bottom. It has a simple rectangular stand at the bottom.

As there's no Smart TV component, the onboard menus are quite simple and fairly easy to navigate, with a stark black-and-green color scheme. The remote control is also a fairly straightforward affair, though the location of the menu button in the bottom right of the D-pad will initially confuse users used to it being top left.

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The Toshiba L5200 features a modest design with a piano black bezel. Sarah Tew/CNET

Models in series (details)
Toshiba 40L5200U 40 inches
Toshiba 46L5200U 46 inches
Toshiba 50L5200U (reviewed) 50 inches
Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit
Screen finish Glossy Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection No
3D technology No 3D glasses included N/A
Refresh rate(s) 120Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA-compliant No USB Photo/Music/Video

In a refreshing change among TVs we've reviewed this year, the Toshiba is bare-bones in regard to features and yet still appears to care about giving customers the most picture possible for a budget price. There is no 3D, onboard camera, or even Internet connectivity, just a full-HD screen with 120Hz processing.

The TV does offer the company's DynaLight feature, which is a universal backlight dimmer, but such budget implementations tend to make the picture too dim with obvious transitions, so I just leave them off.

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The menu system is quite minimalist.

Picture settings: The TV offers the usual three modes plus a user mode, but if you try to alter any settings it immediately bumps you to the Preference mode. There's very little to adjust beyond your usual color controls. Toshiba does offer Green and Blue adjustment in the White Balance Menu, but as I found they're difficult to tweak correctly.

Connectivity: Without any form of internet access, the number of connections are what you could call "economical." You get three HDMI, a component/composite input, USB, and a PC port. Digital audio out is also included if you use the onboard tuner and want to route it to an external AV system.

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Connections include three HDMI ports and one USB.

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