Ameya DalviNov 13, 2020 12:25:50 IST
Overall Rating: 4/5
Price: Rs 32,990
Toshiba returns to the TV segment in India after a fairly long hiatus. Their TV business is now owned by Hisense, who incidentally debuted in India this year as well. While I can see a distinct Hisense influence on this Toshiba Smart TV model we have for review, it looks to carve a new identity for itself via its proprietary platform — Vidaa OS. So let see where this TV stands in comparison with other TVs in this segment, and how Vidaa OS compares with the most popular smart TV platform, Android TV.
Toshiba 50U5050 4K Smart TV – Design and Connectivity: 8/10
The design of Toshiba’s 50U series TVs is quite similar to that of Hisense A71 Tvs, with extremely slim bezels on three sides and a not-so-thick bottom bezel with the company logo on the left. What’s different are the table-top stands; the thin plastic ones are replaced by thick metal stands that actually look better and feel a lot more reassuring. The power LED and IR receiver are placed on a tiny chin at the centre of the bottom bezel. The TV isn’t too bulky and can be wall-mounted using the screws and mounts provided in the package.
A wireless remote control and a pair of AAA batteries are also present. In the connectivity department, you get three HDMI ports – one of which supports ARC, two USB 2.0 ports, optical audio, 3.5 mm Aux out and a LAN port — all along the left edge of the centre module, while AV input ports are placed at the back of the TV. All the ports are located a lot further inside from the edge, making them hard to reach if you wall-mount the TV — a common design flaw seen in several TVs. Ideally, the ports shouldn’t be placed more than 6 inches away from the edge. Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz WiFi.
Toshiba 50U5050 4K Smart TV – Features and specifications: 8.5/10
This Toshiba 50U5050 TV has a 50-inch VA panel with an Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and a 60 Hz refresh rate. It is powered by a quad-core processor with Cortex A53 cores and Mali 470MP GPU. You get 1.5 GB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. The TV is also compliant with popular HDR standards such as Dolby Vision and HDR10. The 30-Watt RMS speakers boast of Dolby Atmos support. More on that in the audio performance. The TV has built-in WiFi with support for b/g/n standards at 2.4 GHz. There is no support for 5 GHz wireless networks, typical of budget smart TVs.
Since this isn’t an official Android TV, it does not have Chromecast built-in, but lets you mirror content from your phone or tablet using Miracast. The bundled remote is similar to the one you get with the Hisense A56E series of TVs, and supports IR and Bluetooth both. The power button on the remote communicates with the TV using IR, and everything else operates over Bluetooth once paired. The voice-enabled remote is well built and has hotkeys for Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube, among a cluster of other buttons. The TV has Alexa built-in, and you can use the remote to issue voice commands to search for content, play music or control compatible smart devices.
Toshiba 50U5050 4K Smart TV – OS and User Interface: 7.5/10
This TV runs Toshiba’s Vidaa OS. It is fairly easy to operate with a simple, icon-based user interface and logical menus. You can browse through the UI using the D-pad and select an option using the OK button. The UI is simple, smooth, lag-free and it is easy to locate the desired menu option. There is a media player to play content from USB drives which supports all popular formats; it played pretty much everything I threw at it.
There are a good amount of audio and video settings to tinker with that are easily accessible. Even better, they can be accessed on the fly in any app or input mode. In other words, you can tweak the picture or sound in real time, irrespective of whether you are watching something on an app like Netflix or through an HDMI source like DTH; something several Android TVs still don’t let you do. The TV boots in under 15 seconds, which is twice as quick as the fastest Android TV I have tested till date. The Amazon Prime Video and Netflix apps load faster than usual too, and also provide Ultra HD output with HDR10 and Dolby Vision respectively.
It’s generally smooth sailing in Vidaa OS, but it does have a couple of minor bugs that can be easily fixed with an OTA update. For example, the TV always boots into HDMI input mode even if no HDMI device is connected. It could have booted to the Home screen instead. Also, if you connect the TV to a soundbar through HDMI ARC, the sound output keeps jumping to HDMI ARC even if you choose TV speakers. It happens when you switch between apps or even if you just play the next video on YouTube.
But the biggest drawback here is the meagre app library. Among popular OTT services, you only have Netflix, Prime Video, Zee5 and YouTube. There are no apps for Disney+ Hotstar, Sony Liv, Voot etc. The only way to access those platforms is either by loading the app on your phone or tablet and mirroring it on the TVscreen, or by plugging a streaming device like Amazon Fire TV Stick or Mi TV Box.
All in all, Vidaa OS is well thought out and holds great potential. I quite liked its brisk nature and simplicity, but not the scant app support. If the company can iron out the tiny flaws, and more importantly provide apps for most popular OTT services in India, it can be a very good alternative to Android TV.
Toshiba 50U5050 4K Smart TV – Picture quality: 8.5/10
I was quite impressed with the picture quality of this TV, especially the colour reproduction. The colours feel vibrant, yet natural for the most part, without much tweaking. The 4K panel is fairly bright with good contrast, and details in dark areas in high contrast scenes were clearly visible. The black levels are surprisingly deep for a budget LED TV; another big plus. You get a good amount of picture adjustments like brightness, contrast, sharpness, colour etc. to fine-tune it to your liking. In addition, you also get options for adjusting colour temperature, adaptive contrast (best set to low), digital and MPEG noise reduction and more.
This TV supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and 4K HDR content encoded in that format looks sharp and vibrant on this screen. There was no backlight bleeding around the edges either in my review unit. The TV doesn’t flash a HDR10 or Dolby Vision logo when playing the corresponding content, but the picture presets get HDR prefix when playing the former, and you get Dolby Vision Bright, Dark and Custom options when playing the latter. The contrast is noticeably better during HDR playback, but a tad aggressive.
4K SDR content looks sharp on this TV too with accurate colours and ample detail. 1080p Full HD content is upscaled really well and actually looks as good as 4K; it’s often hard to differentiate between the two on YouTube. 720p videos were perfectly watchable too, but weren’t upscaled as well. Anything lower than 720p looks a bit too soft, which is the case with most 4K TVs. The viewing angles are pretty good, with only a marginal colour shift when watching the TV from sharp angles; not many would complain.
Toshiba 50U5050 4K Smart TV – Audio quality: 7.5/10
The TV has a pair of stereo speakers that deliver a total rated output of 30 Watts RMS. The speakers produce crisp audio (especially vocals) with decent warmth. They are perfectly audible at 50 percent volume level in most cases. The TV provides you with a bunch of sound settings to tweak further, if necessary. While the sound quality is fine for general purpose viewing, it isn’t in the same league as that of Nokia 50TAUHDN or even the Hisense A71 series.
It is adequate for watching sports, news, soaps or the odd movie/web series, but lacks the punch that a little extra bass can provide. The speakers are Dolby Atmos compliant, and you do get slightly better soundstage when listening to an Atmos stream, but don’t expect miracles. If you crave better sound, there are various audio out options available to plug in a soundbar or other speakers, to enhance the audio.
Toshiba 50U5050 4K Smart TV – Overall performance: 8/10
I was quite pleased with the Toshiba 50U5050’s overall performance, fast boot times and apps loading faster than usual. The file format support through USB is excellent, and the player itself is pretty good. The TV didn’t give me reason to complain except one — the lack of a good app library. If you just watch Netflix, Prime Video, Zee5 and YouTube, the TV has you covered. For the rest of the OTT services, you will have to invest more money in a video streaming device.
Toshiba 50U5050 4K Smart TV – Price and verdict
The Toshiba 50U5050 is priced at Rs 32,990 and is covered under a one year warranty. For that price, you get a smart TV with among the best picture quality in this segment. Add to that support for Dolby Vision, fast boot/load times, and more than decent connectivity options. If Toshiba can somehow improve the app support, this can be a great all-round product.
Its biggest competitor in this price bracket, incidentally, hails from its parent company. The similarly priced Hisense 50A71 has comparable picture quality, much better sound output and broad app support, thanks to the Android TV platform. If you like the virtues of this Toshiba TV, and are willing to pay extra for an Android-based or Fire TV media streamer, or already own one, feel free to go for this TV without a concern.