Once John Archer gets past the disappointment of some over- enthusiastic HDMI specification claims, he finds quite a lot to like about this bargain-priced 50in Dolby Vision screen. Read our Toshiba 50UK3163DB Review.
FOR A 50IN TV that sells for £, Toshiba’s 50UK3163DB has a surprising amount going on. Its native 4K LCD panel, for instance, uses VA rather than low-contrast IPS technology, and its LEDs are placed behind its screen rather than around its edges – a setup that typically results in superior contrast (Toshiba quotes a very respectable ratio of 5,000:1).
There’s also support for Dolby Vision HDR as well as the more common HDR10 and HLG formats, and Toshiba’s TRU engine is lurking in the background to provide more video enhancements – including motion processing, edge smoothing and contrast boosting elements – than you don’t always find on such an affordable flatscreen.
The set carries built-in Dolby Atmos audio decoding too, and – startlingly for its money – its three HDMI ports are said to meet the HDMI 2.1 specification. Hopes of support for 4K/120Hz and variable refresh rate gaming, though, are quickly dashed as it turns out the only HDMI 2.1 feature the set supports is Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM) switching, where the TV toggles in and out of its low input lag Game mode depending on whether a console is outputting a video or game source.
Part of Toshiba’s current flagship range
Hisense R50A7200GT; TCL 50RP620K
The 50UK3163DB is by no means a dead loss for gamers, as it only takes 10.1ms to render 60Hz graphics using the Game mode. But those HDMI 2.1 claims are best ignored.
Toshiba has developed its own smart interface for the 50UK3163DB, one with a compact design, logical structure, and support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. Supported video streaming apps don’t include Disney+ or Apple TV+.
Sound is delivered by a 2 x 10W-rated array, and this proves to be rather good, making explosive soundtrack moments feel pleasingly open, and with more forward projection than I was prepared for. Bass weight is less impressive, however.
Unleashing the Fury
Considering it only achieves a peak brightness (on a 10 per cent white HDR window) of 336 nits, the 50UK3163DB produces surprisingly punchy HDR pictures. Unlike most budget sets, it laps up aggressively mastered titles such as
4K: Yes. 3,840 x, 2160 HDR: Yes. Dolby Vision; HDR10; HLG TUNER: Yes. Freeview HD CONNECTIONS: 3 x HDMI in; USB port; VGA input; optical audio output; Ethernet SOUND (CLAIMED): 2 x 10W BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): N/A CONTRAST RATIO (CLAIMED): 5,000:1 4K/120 PLAYBACK: No DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,129(w) x 655(h) x 81(d)mm WEIGHT (OFF STAND): 10kg
FEATURES: Built-in Wi-Fi; USB multimedia playback; TRU processing engine; DLNA wireless streaming support, native 50Hz motion rate; Dolby Atmos decoding built in; smart portal; ALLM; Freeview Play
Mad Max: Fury Road or Pan (both 4K BD), delivering levels of both fullscreen and peak brightness with a feeling of impact you just don’t expect on budget TVs. It defined the light hitting the raindrops in the opening scene of It (4K BD) with considerable aplomb.
Toshiba’s LCD LED panel is direct- rather than edge-lit
This dynamic approach feeds into another strength: sharpness. I can’t think of another similarly priced TV that serves up native 4K sources with as much detailing and crispness. Sharpness holds up with upscaled HD too.
There are two worries with any TV (budget or otherwise) that pushes brightness: colour saturation and black levels. Yet colours here are reasonable; there are certainly premium TVs out there with wider colour gamuts, but the tones are rich enough to at least avoid looking washed out in bright areas.
Black levels are less impressive. During the night attack on Hogwarts in …The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (4K BD), the sky always looks grey rather than anything approaching black, especially if the shot contains a few bright HDR elements. The greyness is at least even, with no blooming issues or inconsistencies at the screen’s edges. But TVs as affordable as this inevitably have a weakness somewhere, and here it’s black levels.
Another area where the 50UK3163DB gets into difficulty is motion. Judder can be slightly too pronounced without using Toshiba’s TRU Motion system, but this system introduces quite a lot of processing side effects.
Add it to the list
I wasn’t expect AV perfection from this temptingly priced Tosh, but what I did get was a pleasant surprise. Definitely one to shortlist if you’re shopping at this size and price
Some budget TVs deliver more balanced pictures, but this Toshiba's bright, sharp vibe will deservedly win it plenty of fans.