Toshiba L7200U series information: The review below is based on our time spent with the 55-inch L7200U TV. However, the observations made also apply to the 47-inch 47L7200U in the L7200U series. Toshiba says the sets offer identical features (save weight and dimensions) and should offer similar performance.
Models in Toshiba L7200U Series
|Toshiba 47L2700U||47 inches|
|Toshiba 55L7200U (reviewed)||55 inches|
With Korean television titans Samsung and LG dominating headlines, garnering heaps of favorable reviews, and duking it out for consumer attention, consumers can easily overlook the other industry heavyweights still in contention with their own high-quality televisions. Although Sony’s and Toshiba’s profits may have eroded over the past few years, both of these Japanese manufacturers are turning out some appealing options with attractive design and signature picture quality.
The L7200U is Toshiba’s top-of-the-line LED backlit LCD television. As such, it offers most of the essential smart television-related bells and whistles you’d expect from today’s flagship televisions, wrapped in a nearly bezel-free package. What sets the L7200U series apart from the equally eye-catching competition is Toshiba’s unique flavor of picture and alluring price tag. The 55-inch model we review here has a street price anywhere from $400 to $600 less than the competing Samsung ES8000 and nearly $1,000 less than LG’s LM9600 series. The question is, however, can the L7200U hang tough when pixel meets the eye?
Out of the box
A quick glance at the dimensions of both the Toshiba L7200U and the super-svelte LG LM9600 reveal marginal differences in their dimensions. The L7200 is .20-inches deeper and about an inch taller (without the stand) than LG’s flagship (because of a curved border on the bottom of the Toshiba’s frame). But we didn’t see or feel the added inches as we pulled the L7200U from its box. The micro-thin strip of metallic trim that borders the television’s frame along the top and sides gives the L7200U a sleek and modern look. A half-inch black strip that borders the display panel prevents this TV from having that striking “all picture” look, but the strip all but disappears when you actually turn it on.
The L7200U weighs a slight 44.75 pounds without its stand, making it one of the lightest 55-inch sets we’ve evaluated. Installing the base, however, will add a few pounds because Toshiba, like Sony, doesn’t do plastic stands on its high-end televisions. The L7200U’s stand may not come off as looking futuristic, but the solid black-backed glass base is classy and functional. We’ll take that over chintzy faux-chrome plastic any day.
Along with the television, we found a remote control, batteries for the remote, a television stand and stand hardware and four pairs of Toshiba’s passive 3D glasses.
As we dug into the L7200U series, we started to expose the differences between Toshiba’s flagship and that of its competition. The L7200U comes without any kind of motion control, voice recognition or face recognition, and no camera or microphone is built in to support Skype — not that an app is available in this series for that anyway. Speaking of apps, the L7200U keeps it simple. We found apps for Netflix, VUDU, CinemaNow, VUDU Apps (providing access to Facebook, Twitter, etc.), YouTube, Toshiba’s Media Guide and an electronic manual. We were disappointed to see Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video missing. Otherwise, the Toshiba presented a refreshing change; we enjoyed not being inundated with pages upon pages of apps we’d never use.
Outside of the third-party apps, the L7200U offers access to content stored on a network, thanks to DLNA certification. A message app, calendar and Web browser round out Toshiba’s ePortal interface.
Aside from some smart television-related limitations, the L7200U reads like a premium television, offering 240Hz refresh rate using motion-smoothing technology (120Hz native panel), local dimming of the LED edge lighting, passive 3D, 2D-to-3D conversion, built-in Wi-Fi adapter, Ethernet port, Audyssey audio controls, three USB ports and four HDMI inputs.
The remote control Toshiba included with the television is classic Toshiba, and we like it. The remote’s gentle contour, combined with its curved button arrays, make for an ergonomically friendly device. The backlight on this remote is among the best we’ve seen, ensuring no one will ever have a problem finding the right button in a dark room. The multiple dedicated buttons for Netflix, other apps and for Toshiba’s app portal are redundant, but they make getting at the smart television apps easy.
In addition to the remote, we appreciated the inclusion of a wireless QWERTY keyboard for use with the set’s built-in web browser. Such a tool is essential for any web browsing experience, if only to enter URLs in the browser’s address bar. The keyboard has a mouse emulation option available which changes the functions of its directional keys so that it moves the cursor about the screen in more or less the same fashion as an actual mouse. Unfortunately, we found the motion to be a little sluggish and jerky. Still, it is superior to navigating from link to link with the directional pad. Our other disappointment was that the keyboard did not work from within any of the third-party apps such as Netflix and YouTube. Toshiba is not to blame for this, however. The app developers must integrate keyboard support into the apps and, sadly, they rarely do. Let’s hope this changes soon.
Thanks to a quick and easily navigable user interface, accessing the L7200U’s setup menu and picture controls is a painless process. The ease of use was particularly handy when we set our Spyder4TV HD colorimeter to verify the color, brightness and contrast settings.
Adjusting the television’s settings provided only one surprise: We had to dial down the color setting by nine points. Our experience has been that this basic color control needs little – if any – adjustment. Although the L7200U provides no ISF level-color controls, it does offer an RGB filter to make color and tint adjustments easier. We also found a white-balance control, static gamma control and color temperature slider, all of which allowed us to dial in the picture as closely as possible to our standard.
During our setup and adjustment period, we were pleased to see that the L7200U was capable of producing the full range of whites and blacks without clipping (including whiter than white and blacker than black). When properly adjusted, our test patterns revealed that this television is capable of excellent contrast and impressive brightness. On pattern after pattern, the L7200U tested well, especially regarding color, which came as a surprise because we had to considerably adjust the color settings.
Real-world viewing confirmed our test pattern-based experience. We were again impressed with the set’s color reproduction, which we can best describe as vivid without being overblown. This is a characteristic we’ve always appreciated about Toshiba’s televisions.
Brightness, again, was never an issue. Even in our brightest rooms, the L7200U had no problem combating ambient light to provide a vivid picture. Black levels also were excellent except at the bottom left and top right edges where some significant edge-light bleeding was apparent. This was most troublesome for us when watching letterboxed content, where there is no getting away from the soft halo that sat in those areas.
The L7200U renders texture and detail nicely. Our loops of Pixar clips looked gorgeous, catching the eye of just about every passerby in our office.
Motion blur was never a problem for us, even with the “ClearScan 240Hz” feature disabled. We did notice, however, some motion judder, particularly during slow vertically panned screens from 24p content, which is typical for LCD televisions with motion-smoothing features disabled.
In general, we were pleased with the L7200U’s picture quality. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of any budget brand’s premium models, and competitive with that of premium brands. What really does it for us with this television, though, is its signature color reproduction. Granted, color reproduction is a matter of personal preference, but the L7200U’s color rendering stands as our favorite among the 2012 LCD television lineup.
Smart television performance
Toshiba would have been silly not to make its flagship LED/LCD television a smart television. But the selection of apps is slightly limited, and while navigation is simple enough, the browser, messages and calendar apps are worthless. Most likely, we’d just use the app interface in a Blu-ray player or spring for a Roku box, Google TV box or some other media player.
If we were forced to pick a 3D pony, we’d hitch our wagon to passive 3D without question. Our experience has been that passive 3D simply works better. We prefer passive 3D for its superior brightness and lack of flicker, crosstalk and need for expensive glasses that require batteries or recharging batteries. The assertion that passive 3D cuts resolution doesn’t hold water, and despite all the technical mumbo-jumbo, we simply prefer it.
One day, when all 3D movies are made as well as Avatar was, we might start getting excited about watching in 3D at home. For now, however, 3D remains to us a forced and failed selling point. And 2D-to-3D conversion? Forget about it.
With that said, the L7200U does passive 3D as well as any other passive 3D set we’ve tested. We found a couple of quirks to mention. First, the glasses included with the L7200U series aren’t fancy or particularly comfortable, but they are full-sized glasses. They get the job done. Second, expect to be confronted by the most drawn out – and at times flat-out hilarious – multi-page stream of glasses disclaimers we’ve ever seen: Don’t get up and walk around; don’t use them if you are prone to seizures, heart attacks, vertigo…the list goes on forever. The way Toshiba plays it, you’d think 3D was flat-out dangerous for everyone. We’re all for safety, but…wow.
Although Toshiba’s L7200U series lacks some features of the competition’s top-tier televisions, its picture performance matches that of more expensive models. The L7200U’s strongest attributes are its brightness and color production; its weak points are its edge-light bleed in the corners and limited selection of apps. Overall, the L7200U is a strong value, and we suspect its distinctly Toshiba picture will find favor with consumers who want a slim television with a simple interface and friendly price tag. If you’re looking for a more heavily featured set, the LG 55LM6700 will deliver, although at a slightly higher price.
- Superior brightness
- Excellent color
- Great remote control
- Attractive design and price
- Limited selection of Internet apps
- Edge-light bleeding from the corners
- Highly reflective screen