With good picture quality for its price class, the Toshiba L5200U makes a good everyday TV set at a better everyday price. Just make sure you set your expectations accordingly.
Image quality is far from perfect, but might be perfectly fine for everyday viewing. Without a doubt, the Toshiba L5200U will leave video perfectionists fairly unhappy -- though as sometimes happens, the source of that unhappiness seems to vary with the eye of the reviewer or the specific review sample tested. CNET is among those that grouse about inaccurate colors, while sites like Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity and PCMag.com say that colors are either pretty good or can be made that way with a little -- or a lot -- of work.
Black levels, on the other hand, seem fine for the most part for a TV in this class -- and better than some considerably pricier models, CNET reports. But opinions about contrast ratio vary from very good (at TelevisionInfo.com) to "mediocre" (at PCMag.com). As with any edge-lit LED TV, image uniformity is a bugaboo, and the L5200U is no exception, though how much of a distraction it will be will vary from set to set and viewer to viewer. The TV has a true 120 Hz refresh rate, but some say it's not as effective as some sets in reducing motion blur. A glossy screen indicates that this TV wouldn't normally be the best performer in a bright room, but there's an anti-reflective filter that does a pretty good job of cutting down reflections.
Just a little beyond the barest of bones. It's hard to call a set with a 120 Hz refresh rate and an LED backlight bare-bones, but in today's TV marketplace that's pretty much what it is. There's no 3D, no Smart TV features and no local streaming. The USB input will let you play back your own content (video, music, photos) from a thumb drive. There's also a feature that will automatically set the backlight's brightness depending on room illumination, but reports say that it doesn't work all that well.
Styling is in keeping with feature set and price. Basically, the Toshiba L5200U sports a no-frills look in standard piano black, though the thin bezel is liked well enough. Connectivity is average, with three HDMI inputs. The remote is small and undistinguished, but gets the job done.
It's the price that counts the most with this TV. Judged on its own, there are few reasons to consider the Toshiba L5200U. But expand your view to see what's available at or near the same price point, and things look a lot nicer. You can spend less for a TV in its equivalent screen sizes, but you'll need to give up even more on the picture front in most instances. However, if you want a more advanced set, some attractive options are available for just a little bit more.
In absolute terms, the picture quality of the Toshiba L5200U certainly has its share of warts. While few sets in its class look better, the Samsung EH5000 is an exception and draws somewhat better feedback. Still, the L5200U is a decent choice for TV buyers on a strict budget who want a mid-sized screen -- especially those who couldn't care less for its missing bells and whistles.
Excellent CNET finds some performance shortfalls with the 50-inch Toshiba 50L5200U. However, this testing-based review tempers its criticism by saying that on balance, performance is good for TVs in its price class.
Review: Toshiba 50L5200U Review, Ty Pendlebury, June 28, 2012
Excellent The review at TelevisionInfo.com finds many of the same performance issues as CNET, but does not grade the set on a curve. Allowing that you could do worse in its price category than choosing the 50-inch Toshiba 50L5200U, Lee Neikirk says price is the only reason that this TV is a decent choice.
Review: Toshiba 50L5200U, Lee Neikirk, June 22, 2012
3. Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
Excellent The 50-inch Toshiba 50L5200U gets a thorough going-over at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, a site well regarded by video and audio aficionados. Some of the discussion veers into technically dense territory, but conclusions are clearly spelled out: "If you need an affordable LCD TV for gaming, or general use, this Toshiba will get the job done."
Review: Toshiba 50L5200U LCD TV, Stephen Hornbrook and Chris Heinonen, June 6, 2012
Excellent ConsumerReports.org tests the 40-inch Toshiba 40L5200U, the smallest screen size in this series. Test results are reported, though not in the depth that some other sites provide. Discussion is similarly brief, though expanded notably over what's been seen in the past.
Review: Toshiba 40L5200U, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Excellent PCMag.com notes positives and negatives with the picture quality of the 50-inch Toshiba 50L5200U. The lack of features is also lamented, as is the value, though the comparison of the latter is done at MSRP rather than at street prices, which tells a somewhat different tale.
Review: Toshiba 50L5200U, John R. Delaney, June 22, 2012
6. LCDTV Buying Guide.com
Very Good Reviews at this website appear to be testing based and competently done, though the presentation could use a little polish in spots. Robert Wiley points out that unlike plasma TVs, which are commonly offered in a 50-inch screen size, the Toshiba 50L5200U is one of the few on the LCD side of the technology divide to do so.
Review: Toshiba 50L5200U Review, Robert Wiley, Not Dated
Very Good This is yet another testing-based review of the 50-inch Toshiba 50L5200U. Caleb Denison joins the chorus in saying that the TV is a pretty good option for everyday viewing -- and a bargain as well -- but some performance issues indicate that this isn't a top-tier set geared to video perfectionists.
Review: Toshiba 50L5200U Review, Caleb Denison, May 3, 2012