Toshiba 47L7200 Review

I feel bad. I constantly forget about Toshiba. When I talk about TVs, it’s always Samsung this, Panasonic that. And yet, consistently, when I review a Toshiba product, I’m reminded they make some good stuff. Back when I reviewed Blu-ray players (what’s the point now?), theirs was one of the best and one of the cheapest.

Enter the 47L7200, Toshiba’s top of the line. Gary caught sight of it at a show, and asked me to get one in to check out.

The result? Interesting…

First, the basics. The 47-inch Toshiba 47L7200 is an edge-lit, passive 3D, LED LCD. Literally edge-lit, as unlike some new LED LCDs, the LEDs are actually along the edges. In the box you get four pairs of 3D glasses, a standard remote, and even a wireless keyboard. That was unexpected.

Aesthetically it’s a… well, it’s a TV looking TV. It’s thin, but doesn’t have much visual flourish. The move has been for more unobtrusive TVs lately, and this is certainly that. There are four HDMI inputs, WiFi, etc. Netflix, VUDU, and a browser (if you hadn’t guessed that already), are the major apps.

Toshiba 47L7200 Back panel

With the wireless keyboard (the tiny receiver nubbin takes up one of the available USB ports), works well enough, making web navigation better than if you just had a standard remote. However, without a mouse, it’s still not what I’d call “easy.” The keyboard only seems to work in the browser and in basic setup. You can’t, for example, type in your Netflix login with it. You’re stuck with the out-of-the-box color temperature for web browsing, where whites look like a blueberry snow cone.

And let’s talk about color temperature. Out of the box, even in the warmest setting of “0,” the 47L7200 is extremely blue. It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a TV that was this blue out of the box. You (or your calibrator) however, can fix it. After calibration, tracks pretty well across the grayscale range.

Color, however, is pretty much spot on accurate. The primary color points of red, green, and blue are all right on their recommended targets. The secondaries don’t fare quite as well. Yellow is fine, but cyan and magenta are both somewhat blue. The image on screen, though looks pretty much spot on. Grass and skies are realistic green and blue respectively, while skin tones of all shades look lifelike.

Toshiba 47L7200 RemoteContrast ratio, depending on how you want to look at it, is either “meh,” or “meh+.” The native contrast ratio, as in what the liquid crystal panel itself is doing, averages a mediocre 1,423:1. With a backlight setting of 100, the 47L7200 produces 95.58 foot Lamberts with a full white test pattern, and 0.067 with a full black pattern (1,427:1). With the backlight set at 0, the 47L7200 produces 10.17 ftL and 0.007 (1,453:1 – note other measurements were taken at different points in the range to create the overall average). This is on the low side for modern LCD.

However, there is a “local dimming” feature, which is true… from a certain point of view. There are areas of the screen that can dim, but this is a far cry from a true local dimming LED LCD like the ELITE. In Low mode, with the backlight set at 100, the 47L7200 produces 92.93 ft and 0.004 (23,233:1). In the High mode, it puts out 92.22 ftL and 0.0012 (76,850:1). For all the readings check out  the 47L7200 calibration report .

The contrast ratio you see on screen looks somewhere between the 1,423:1 with the Dynalight “local dimming” off, and with it on. Having just reviewed the ELITE, which produced (more legitimately, I’d say) similar numbers, I can tell you the 47L7200 doesn’t look that good. However, it looks much better than 1,423:1. For example, with white credits on a black background, the credits are dim as the TV lowers the backlight to compensate for the low average picture level.

The usual issue with LED edge-lighting, poor brightness uniformity, isn’t a huge issue here. There is some brightness falloff with test patterns, most noticeably at the very edges, getting noticeably dimmer than the center. Blackfield uniformity is decent, with very little clouding. There was a slight color uniformity issue noticeable with a white test pattern, the edges of the screen shifting slightly blue, while the middle is warmer. Even so, compared to other edge-lit LEDs, I’d rate this one as above average.

Off axis performance is quite good, for an LCD. You lose some brightness and the black level goes up some as you move away from center, but it’s better than average in this regard. However, moving above center line of the TV fares worse, with the black level coming up quite quickly not too far off axis.

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Like most edge-lit LED models, the 47L7200 has exceptionally low power consumption. Energy Guide rates it at $16 a year, or about half what a comparable plasma would draw.

On the processing side, the 47L7200 doesn’t correctly pick up the 3:2 signal when the ClearScan mode is set to Off. It does in Standard and Smooth modes. These modes, however add in the ultra-smooth Soap Opera Effect despised by some and beloved by others (less so with the Standard mode). The Cinema mode seems to be a straight 5:5 pulldown. With the rotating bar pattern on the Spears and Munsil Benchmark, there were almost no jaggies at all, one of the best I’ve seen with this test. The 1080i Ship clip showed small jaggies, but was still very good.

Ah passive 3D. On one hand, the glasses are cheap and light. On the other hand, you get half the resolution. Despite what passive-TV proponents tell you, you’re only getting 1,920×540 in each eye. While the image doesn’t appear soft per-se, depending on where you’re sitting you’re going to see artifacts. The most noticeable is a visible line structure, as each eye is only seeing every other line. The other, and this is a consequence of the same issue, is stair-stepping in diagonal lines. If you’re curious about this, I did a big article called Active 3D vs. Passive 3D: What’s Better over at CNET.

The payoff of passive, though, is a far more pleasing 3D image. With Hugo, I found the 3D effect to be decent, with little noticeable crosstalk. Because it’s passive, it was also bright. The Cinema ClearScan mode was my go-to pick for movies, as it created the least juttery image, without adding any noticeable frame interpolation. Throughout, detail was exceptional, and there was little visible motion blur.

The 47L7200 is a solid TV. Accurate colors, excellent detail, decent off-axis performance, bright, energy efficient, and a “local dimming” feature that does some good. On the other hand, the contrast ratio isn’t amazing. Mostly, I think the MSRP of $1,599 is a bit steep, considering when you can get a comparably-performing plasma for far less. Among its top-tier LED LCD brethren, though, it’s pretty price comparable. So with all that in mind, we at HDGuru award the Toshiba 47L7200 ♥♥♥.5 out of 5 hearts.

Right now the 47L7200 is $1,455 on Amazon.


Geoff Morrison @TechWriterGeoff
Geoff’s book is now in paperback


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