Toshiba 32L2300U Review
By Chris Heinonen on
If you’re after a TV for a secondary room, like a bedroom or kids room, there is a good chance you want something very basic. If you sit more than a few feet away from a 32″ TV, a 720p set will look virtually identical to a 1080p model and save you a bit of money. Toshiba offers a very basic TV in the 32L2300U: a 32”, 720p model. It provides a decent image, but lacks the accuracy found in other displays for a similar price. It also doesn’t do well handing dark shadow details or motion even with its ClearScan and auto-dimming features.
A Bare Bones Model
|Inputs:||3x HDMI, 1x Component, 1x Composite, 1x Antenna/Cable, 1x PC, 1x 3.5mm Audio, 1x USB|
|Display Size:||28.9″ x 19.8″ x 7.1″|
|Display Weight:||12.6 lbs.|
|Review Date:||November 6, 2013|
The design on the front of the Toshiba 32L2300U is nice and appealing with a bit of silver trim at the bottom and rounded corners. The TV is a bit deeper than higher end models you see now but unless you’re trying to mount it against a wall you probably won’t notice. Toshiba labels this as a 120Hz model, but really it is a 60Hz panel with some backlight tricks to simulate 120Hz performance.
One thing that needs work is the remote. It has a mushy feel with non-backlit buttons that is hard to use in the dark. The IR sensor on the TV is also small and often didn’t respond to my button presses. Even a basic universal remote control to replace it will be a big improvement.
Setting It Up
The Toshiba 32L2300U has a surprising number of options for being an entry-level TV. There are adjustments for color temperature, white balance, gamma, and even a full color management system inside. I’ve seen plenty of $1,000 TVs that don’t include a color management system. The value of it is a bit dubious, as aside from reviewers like myself that own all their own calibration gear, most people won’t spend more on a calibration than the TV originally cost.
The most accurate mode I found is the Movie preset and the Warm color temperature. Getting to my Gamma target of 2.4 required me to set the Gamma control to 0. I disable features like ClearScan and LED Lighting for most of my viewing but do test them out. With no Smart TV features or anything else to enable the Toshiba32L2300U should only take 30 minutes to get out of the box and be watching.
A fair image
I set the Toshiba 32L2300U up on a Sunday so the first thing to watch is some football. With 720p content everything looked fine but with 1080i channels like CBS and NBC I could notice some issues. These seem related to the scaling of 1080 down to 720 and causing some small artifacts. On fast pans across the field it is easy to see that motion blur from the 60 Hz LCD panel. Turning on the ClearScan didn’t make a noticeable difference in this blurring. Colors are bright and punchy, though faces have a bit of a sunburn to them. Watching from a normal distance of 7’ I didn’t notice that I was missing any extra resolution compared to a 1080p set.
Watching some of my reference Blu-ray discs brought out a few of the issues with the Toshiba 32L2300U. The most noticeable issue is with dark, shadowy content. With the brightness and contrast set for maximum dynamic range, shadow details are lost. If you view Page 2 and see the calibration measurements, it has a gamma problem that leads to lost shadow areas. On the city shots near the opening of Drive, it looked just like a bunch of streetlights against a black background. Shadow details on the buildings were totally obscured away. Passengers in the backseat also disappeared into a dark blob. Adjusting the gamma is unable to fix this, only raising the brightness, and making blacks more of a dark-gray, could reverse it.
On Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the scene of Voldemort and his followers gathering on the hill tests any display. On the Toshiba they are too dark to make out almost any of the details until it zooms in closer. I enabled the LED Dimming feature and this makes these scenes clearer but also raises and lowers the light levels abruptly.
The biggest picture quality issue with the Toshiba 32L2300U is that there is a significant red push in the default image. Even with the correct settings, like Movie Mode and a Warm color temperature, it is still there. It can mostly be corrected through the color management system, but that costs $300+ for someone to come out and fix.
During the opening scene of Skyfall where Bond chases someone on a train, there is a Caterpillar Excavator that Bond uses. Caterpillar equipment is a distinctive yellow color but on the Toshiba it is orangish. Placing a SamsungUN32EH5000 next to it the color differences were clear. The Samsung lacks the CMS that the Toshiba has, but is far more accurate to start. The image below tries to give an example, with the Toshiba image on the left and the correct one on the right. Skin tones and everything else shows this red push as well.
Both of these are far more noticeable than the difference in 720p to 1080p resolution. If you’re after a cheaper set I wouldn’t spend extra money to go from 720p to 1080p with a 32” screen unless I was sitting very close to it. I would spend a bit extra to get one that looked more accurate, as that can more easily be seen by everyone.
A Question of Value
If you want a 32” TV you probably want the best value set you can get. In that area it’s hard to say that the Toshiba 32L2300U is the right pick. Right now it sells for $267 at Amazon. For $241 you can get the LG LN530B that is a 60 Hz, 720p, LED display without any smart TV features. $239 gets you the Samsung UN32EH4003 that is also has the same specifications. While I haven’t evaluated them in person yet, I’m doubtful that the color or grayscale performance would really be much worse, if at all, than the 32L2300U.
If I wanted to spend a bit more, for $288 I can get the Vizio E320i-A0 which is a 60 Hz, 720p LED set but also includes SmartTV features. Spending $21 more to get Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, and more all built-in seems like a better value to me. If you wanted better image quality the Samsung UN32EH5000 (review coming shortly) is a1080p model that is far more accurate out of the box than the Toshiba but costs $328. Or you can get 1080p, SmartTV, and a more accurate image with the Vizio M321i-A2. I reviewed the 40” model, the Vizio M401i-A3, and found it incredibly accurate out of the box.
The Toshiba 32L2300U falls between all of those price wise which makes it a dubious value. Is has some backlight tricks to try to reduce motion blur, but they didn’t do that for me. I’d recommend looking at models that are more or less expensive for the best value out there right now.
|Pros:||Integrated Color Management System, Decent Contrast Ratio|
|Cons:||Only fair color performance without an expensive calibration, motion blur is very evident, shadow detail missing|
|Summary:||With a lot of tweaking you can coax a good image out of the Toshiba 32L2300U. It takes too much work to get there compared to other models that come ready out of the box. However compared to other entry-level 720p sets it does pretty well.|