It’s been about just over a year since Toshiba unveiled plans to re-enter the local market — and the longest we’ve ever waited for a TV to review. And while it’s been a long time coming, we still think it’s a strong competitor that has brought OLED TVs down to the lowest prices we’ve seen. So was it worth the wait?
Inside the box, you’ll find a remote control (also acts as a voice remote), batteries for the remote, and several pieces for the TV’s stand. While there was a product information booklet for the TV itself, we didn’t find instructions for assembling the stand. Perhaps that was an oversight for our review sample, but thankfully, we were able to sort out the assembly without too much trouble. It was literally two screws. Okay, okay! Maybe three, but all was good in no time.
Physically setting up the Toshiba 50U79 is a one-person job. And, to be honest, I feel like it would’ve been a somewhat anxiety-fuelled proposition if it were a bigger size, as evidenced by the giant stickers on the front that warn you about where you can (and can’t) hold the unit while handling it. What it boils down to is that you have a really expensive, somewhat flexible OLED screen that needs to be laid down flat in order to assemble correctly. That can be dicey to say the least. You can feel the screen bending a bit in your hands as you handle and move it, so one needs to be incredibly careful during assembly and placement. Ideally, it’s a two-person job, as we mentioned.
The TV comes with three side-facing HDMI ports (one being an eARC and the other two labelled as 4K). There are also a few ports on the side (composite, HDMI, and USB) for easier access. Toshiba has made an effort to keep the back of the set neat and clean through the use of various access panels and channels to manage cables, including the power port. The channels route the cords toward the middle of the unit and down through the stand to keep it looking neat and organized. This does a great job of keeping things neat.
The aesthetically pleasing stand of the TV set looks great, although the idea of having most of the weight focused on a foot that protrudes out the centre and back doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. It looks sturdy though.
The black levels on the Toshiba 50U79 are impressive – even for a UHD set, so when the pixels are turned off, you get true black perfection. But that’s not the whole story to a good picture — you also need good gradients leading into dark greys, shadow details, and blending. And that’s where the Toshiba struggles a little. You actually may have trouble seeing dark images unless you have a very dark room. It doesn’t transition out of the blacks smoothly, so there’s some lack of shadow detail, which makes watching really dark scenes in anywhere other than a completely dark room a challenge.
Aside from that, the black uniformity is perfect, setting the TV up for excellent contrast. The grey uniformity was nearly perfect as well.
The interesting thing about the 50U79 is that the out-of-box calibrated picture preset didn’t have the TV getting very bright. However, after resetting the TV and tweaking a few settings, the performance was significantly better and in line with what we would expect.
Making adjustments in brightness can often have a negative effect on colour accuracy. However, the 50U79 out-of-box colour is fantastic.
Picture processing is an area where Toshiba still has a little room to grow. It’s just not as pristine of an image as you’d get from LG or Sony OLED TVs. Toshiba’s processing has come a long way this year, but the 50U79 didn’t clean up low-resolution and low bit-depth content as pristinely as some competing OLEDs.
With high-res content, the 50U79 looks amazing, but you might notice a bit more banding in broad areas of colour when streaming content from Showmax, or other sources that are limited to 720p, or are otherwise highly compressed, than you might with other OLED TVs.
Android TV on the Toshiba 50U79 works perfectly, it is as if the operating software was made for the TV. Everything seems seamless and if you’re already familiar with Google’s platform, it will be a natural transition. Once you’ve synced all your accounts you can literally download all your favourite apps (those that optimised for TV) on this set. Navigating the platform is also a breeze.
When it comes to the sound, initially, we had a bad experience with the 50U70’s sound quality, but a reboot of the TV dramatically improved its audio performance. Still, we thank heavens that we paired it with bluetooth speakers to match. A TV this great certainly deserves a sound bar for a sound experience that is on par with the picture quality.
The Toshiba 50U79 is definitely worth the wait. Kudos to Toshiba for bringing the picture quality of UHD Android TVs down to a more achievable price point.
Are there any better alternatives? The LG CX is a reasonably priced contender to this set from Toshiba, but it does cost more. For the extra money, you’ll get slightly more refined picture processing, but we think the Toshiba 50U79 picture is so good that most folks would be very happy to save money while getting outstanding picture quality.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Toshiba 50U79 is an outstanding value given its premium UHD picture quality and, relatively speaking, highly accessible price. It will set you back R8999.