Top critical review
93 people found this helpful
Advanced features mostly useless
on June 30, 2013
If you just want to watch TV and you have a good High Definition source, this TV is probably fine for you (though overpriced for that purpose).
Trying to use the advanced features of this TV, however, is an exercise in frustration.
To use any of them, you need an internet connection, which works fine if you hard-wire it with an ethernet cable, but the wireless option is finicky about how your network is set up and what your password is. I did manage to set it up for wireless internet, but it took several hours.
The TV has a web browser, but the navigation is painful to use, and for most uses, the first thing you want to do is search. That means using the horribly slow onscreen keyboard combined with the slow response of the remote. To add insult to injury, the online manual suggests that you use the wireless keyboard, but as far as I can tell, there is no wireless keyboard available for this model (see update below).
One particularly frustrating "feature" is that in some modes, the simulated mouse has insufficient resolution to hit small targets on the screen. When watching a YouTube video, enlarging the video hid the controls below the video and I was absolutely unable to click on the down arrow to scroll down and expose them. The cursor would go just to the left or right of the arrow, but couldn't be positioned over it.
The specs say it has two composite and one component input, but this is somewhat misleading. It has one set of shared composite/component inputs (5 input jacks) so you get one composite or one component input. It does have a mini video input, so technically you could probably use it with two composite sources if you had the right cables for that and didn't need the component input.
The marketing material suggests that you can view photos and videos on the box from a USB source, but when I plug in my Thunderbolt Android phone, neither the phone nor the TV know that it's connected. I set the TV to "autostart" media share when something is plugged into the USB connection, but I get "No device connected" when I plug in the phone, and the same thing when I press the media share button on the remote. I didn't try plugging in a computer or iPhone, but Windows computers generally use NTFS for the file system, and according to the manual, the TV only handles Fat file systems. I have unlimited data on the phone, so it's particularly frustrating that it won't work at all with this TV.
The marketing material also suggests that the TV can share media (e.g., photos and videos) with other devices connected to the network. Unfortunately, this only works with devices that have WiDi capability, which is fairly rare, requires a laborious setup process, and still may not work.
It has what appears to be a kick-butt universal remote, with buttons for TV, Cable/Sat, BD/DVD, DVR/VCR, Audio, and Aux. In order to use the universal remote, however, you need to plug in the IR blaster hardware and attach the wired transmitters over the IR receivers on the components. I did get it to work with my Sony receiver, but only for power and volume. After a lot of time spent messing with it, it still doesn't work with my DirecTivo DVR.
Even when it works, this is another good example of poor implementation of a good idea. They could have built the IR blaster features into the remote (like any good universal remote), instead you have ugly, visible wires and dongles crapping up the front of your enterntainment system and you're limited to two extra devices (three counting the TV) even though the remote has buttons for six. You can buy piggy-back IR blaster connectors, but then you have even more visible garbage crapping you your system.
There is a downloadable App for controlling the TV using a phone or tablet. I installed it on my Thunderbolt and it works, sort of, but it's incredibly clunky and much more difficult to use than the regular remote. Worse yet, the one thing I wanted it for was to use the keyboard on the phone when surfing the web, which doesn't work at all.
I live in a large city and the TV's tuner doesn't do a very good job of getting the local channels with a table-top antenna. To be fair, I've never gotten a very good signal on some of the channels, but this TV does a much worse job than my old Sony Trinitron did with the same antenna. At least half the channels now have periodic dropouts and pixelization. This may just be a result of going digital.
You can browse the Web with the built-in browser, but there's no Flash player support, so many web videos and a lot of YouTube entries won't play at all. Using the browser to surf the Web is not all that pleasant, so the only thing you really want to do with it is watch videos, many of which won't play on this set. From what I understand, most other "smart" TVs have Flash support.
What does work?
The TV has a very good selection of inputs and outputs (the composite and component inputs mentioned above, and 4 HDMI inputs) and they all work as expected. The picture quality is acceptable if you have a good HD source, but if you are feeding it a Standard Definition signal, you'll get a fairly poor picture with lots of noise and artifacts, especially so if you're using the composite input. To be fair, this is true of most HD TVs.
The default color saturation is ridiculously high, but it seems most people want that these days after seeing all the jacked up images on store TVs. The Toshiba also has an impressive set of controls for customizing both the video and the audio and they are input-specific, so you can have different settings for different inputs.
The sound is fairly good for a TV and there is a toslink optical digital output that will give you excellent surround sound with a home theater set up. You can also customize the audio delay so you can use the TV speakers in addition to your home theater without getting an echo.
The remote has a Netflix button that will take you straight to Netflix. The streaming video quality from Netflix is quite good on the set, even with a fairly slow internet connection (around 6 Mb/s).
Another feature that works well is the ability to connect any device with HDMI output, though I think any TV with HDMI inputs will do this. I connected my Kindle Fire with a 15' cable and got excellent results with Amazon Prime videos.
The TV will also update its firmware through your internet connection. An update executed soon after I set it up and worked fine, though I lost the Internet connection after it did so and had to reconfigure my network to work with the updated software. I had to set the router to broadcast the SSID and take the punctuation out of my password. I'm not sure which one was necessary (maybe both). Before the update, the router showed up in the TV's WiFi scan even though the SSID was not broadcast. After the update, I could only see my neighbor's networks until I set the router to broadcast the SSID. Unfortunately, this makes your network much less secure.
As I said, the TV's basic functions are fine, but the "smart TV" features seem to have been implemented just enough to let the marketing people claim they are there, but not enough to actually use.
As another reviewer suggested, you'd probably be better off getting a non-smart TV and a Roku box. The Roku box will also give you access to Amazon Prime videos, which the TV will not.
In the first few days of using the TV, it would freeze up occasionally during menu operations. No buttons on the remote or the TV would work (including the power button on the TV). I had to unplug it to get it unfrozen. This has stopped happening, probably because I'm no longer performing Setup operations.
I've had it about 5 weeks now and have a few corrections and more to report.
I stand by the claim that this TV is not ready for prime time. As a further example, you can name the HDMI inputs in Setup. This is really important since there are 2 composite and 4 HDMI inputs (labeled HDMI1, HDMI2, etc.) and who wants to keep a note next to your chair reminding you which is which. In setting the input names, you can select any of the built-in names for them (e.g., DVD), or you can create and set custom names for them (e.g., Tivo, Roku). The maddening thing is that no matter how many times you do this, in a day or two, the set will forget them and revert to the default names.
I got a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard with a built-in touch pad. It "works" with the TV. "Works" is in quotes because of the limitations. It works with the TV's onscreen keyboard when in setup (sort of). But it doesn't work for the Roku search box, the Netflix search box, or the Amazon Prime search box -- all three of which I use way more often than I do the TV's setup. To be fair, I don't know if the blame here belongs to Toshiba, Roku, or both.
The keyboard *does* work with the Toshiba's built-in web browser (again -- sort of), and makes it much less horrible than it is using the Toshiba remote. The problem (and this is a problem in Setup also) is that the keyboard's effects are wildly inconsistent due to problems in the Toshiba software and User Interface design. Sometimes, pressing "Enter" on the keyboard will be the equivalent of clicking on the "Done" button. Sometimes, it will do nothing. Sometimes, maddeningly, pressing "Enter" will type the letter 'q'. Sometimes, you can select the "Done" button with the touch pad. Sometimes you can't.
The net effect of all this is that you have to sit there with the keyboard, the Roku remote, and the Toshiba remote, trying various things until you find one that works. I've been unable to find any logic to the differences and suspect that it's just very sloppy programming.
The good news is that, at least in the web browser, the touch pad and the two mouse keys on the K400 work as expected and will also let you scroll. If your TV has an internet connection, you can get to the web by just pressing the internet key on the Toshiba remote. You can set the default web page to Google. From there, the keyboard will let you type a search phrase and after that, you can pretty much use the touch pad to do what you want as long as you don't want to watch any Flash videos.
This may be of use to others who have this TV. I couldn't figure out why HDTV HDMI signals were being letterboxed on all four sides when they should have been full-screen. It turns out that certain input-specific settings for the TV such as the aspect Ratio used for an input channel are set on a specific menu that can *only* be reached by pressing the "Quick" button on the remote. You can't get to them through the setup menu, which only controls settings used for all inputs. The word "Quick" implies fast access to settings available elsewhere, so this button is seriously misnamed (as is the "Settings" button, which on every other TV on earth is called "Menu."
A further frustration is that now every time I turn on the TV, it wants to download an update. If I say Yes, it downloads the update until it gets to 95% then quits with an error. You'd think that downloading and installing firmware updates would be the most solid thing in the software, but apparently not. I haven't yet tried updating it via USB. Hopefully that will work but I'm not counting on it, and as far as I can tell, there's no way to get it to stop asking you to perform an update.
I tried to update via USB. It's tricky because the the USB has to be formatted as FAT and plugged into USB port 1. I downloaded the update to the USB and plugged it into the TV and the result was a notice that I was already up-to-date and didn't need an update. Of course that didn't stop the TV from trying to update every time I turn it on. I finally just gave it the lobotomy it deserved. I disconnected it from the internet and use a Roku3.