Toshiba Amazon Fire TV C350 series review: Alexa, what’s on?

    The C350 collection from Toshiba provides big-screen, bodily type to Amazon’s Fire TV streaming system. From the fonts to the colours, should you’ve interacted with any Fire TV stick or different Amazon TV machine, you may be absolutely acquainted with this tv. As you’d anticipate, it leans onerous into Alexa and has full Amazon Prime Video integration, but it surely additionally has different streaming companies like Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max and extra. 

    LikeAlexa powers superior voice featuresVoice distant included

    Don’t LikeSmart TV menus lag behind RokuOvert concentrate on Amazon companies

    Picture high quality on the C350 was tremendous for a finances TV, if a bit of worse than the competitors. In my side-by-side comparisons its coloration and distinction could not fairly match the TCL 4-Series and Vizio V-Series, however at this worth the picture high quality variations most likely do not matter that a lot. Arguably extra necessary is the good TV, and whereas Alexa beats Roku and Vizio for voice management, we like Roku’s less complicated, extra agnostic good TV method higher. It’s additionally annoying that some non-Amazon companies, like Vudu, get brief shrift, whereas others, specifically Peacock, aren’t obtainable in any respect.Right now the C350 additionally prices greater than both of these rivals from TCL and Vizio, however with Prime Day quick approaching, we would not be stunned to see an enormous worth drop. Until that occurs, nonetheless, we are able to solely really advocate it for somebody who absolutely embraces the Bezos bonanza and desires their TV to be part of that. 

    Read extra: Early Prime Day TV offers: Save on fashions from Insignia, LG, TCL, Toshiba and VizioThe Toshiba C350 collection is offered in 43-, 50- and 55-inch variations, with bigger 65- and 75-inch sizes coming quickly. I reviewed the 50-inch mannequin.

    Prime options and connectionsLike different TVs at this worth the C530 is a primary 4K HDR mannequin — no fancy extras like next-gen gaming perks, native dimming, large coloration gamut or tons of sunshine right here. Its Fire TV performance is the main characteristic right here and the menus have what Amazon calls a content-forward design: a number of thumbnails for TV reveals and films versus tiles like Roku. Many concentrate on Amazon’s Prime Video library, however you possibly can obtain apps for different main streaming companies, which unpack rows of their thumbnails.

    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    I preferred the Toshiba’s distant higher than the TCL’s as a result of it options Alexa voice in addition to Bluetooth, so you do not have to goal it on the TV. The button structure is easy and clear, if not fairly as sparse as Roku, and contains outstanding white shortcut keys to varied companies. The C350 mainly ties the Roku in most user-friendly setup screens. It has the added bonus that should you’re an Amazon Prime member (and I assume you’re should you’re contemplating this TV), when you undergo the preliminary setup you have already logged in and are prepared to observe reveals and films.Fire TV’s setup menus are easy and simple.
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    One irritating design resolution is that the image settings menu covers one-third of the display, and shadows about half. This menu does not disappear or shrink whenever you make changes both. Now, you’d assume this might solely be an issue should you’re a TV reviewer like me utilizing check patterns (do not get me mistaken, it completely is), but it surely additionally makes it more durable should you’re attempting to eyeball the proper setting at house. That’s as a result of the vast majority of the display will not be what the display will appear to be when you exit the menus. Probably not an enormous deal for many patrons, to be truthful, but it surely’s a bummer should you wish to get a TV trying nearly as good as doable.Read extra: Stop watching dangerous TV image settings: 9 methods to optimize your large screenThose image large adjustment menus can mess together with your tweaks. 
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    Energy Star ranking for the 50-inch mannequin is $21 a 12 months, which is mid-pack for this vary of TVs.Some TVs on this worth vary have three HDMI inputs, and it definitely is not a nasty factor that the C350 has 4. It even has analog video and audio inputs. So when you have an previous gaming console or any retro A/V gear, you are in luck. If you resolve you wish to go your individual streaming route and eschew Fire TV, you will not be capable of energy most streaming sticks from the TV’s USB connections. Not an enormous deal: It simply means you may have to run energy individually to the stick.HDMI inputs: fourComposite analog inputUSB ports: two (0.5A energy)Internet: Wi-Fi, WiredAntenna inputAnalog audio output (3.5mm)Optical digital audio outputSpeakers: two downward-firing
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    Alexa, what’s Vudu?The voice search works nicely. It directs you to Amazon generally, but it surely does provide you with some alternate choices. For instance, should you say “Thor Ragnarok” it is going to deliver up a display with that and a few associated content material, and if you choose the film out of these decisions you will have the choice to purchase or lease on Amazon — or watch it on Disney Plus. Another click on brings up further locations to observe. However, it does not present all choices like Roku or Vizio would. It does not present you Vudu, for instance. It’s truly value specializing in Vudu for example of the restrictions compelled on this Toshiba, presumably by Amazon. There is, technically, a Vudu app. So at first look in a retailer or on a guidelines, it appears to have extra choices to purchase or lease content material than simply Amazon. The fact, nonetheless, is that it is an historic model of the Vudu app that has an archaic interface and solely means that you can watch SD content material. You learn that accurately: not even HD, and overlook about 4K. And that is for content material you already personal. You cannot purchase something within the Vudu app. You need to go to Vudu’s web site to purchase it. With TCL/Roku, Vizio and Samsung, you should buy instantly within the app. So it’s best to completely take into account this TV not simply “primarily” an Amazon machine, however an Amazon machine which may lock you out of non-Amazon stuff. 
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    It’s additionally value repeating that Fire TV, and by extension this TV, is the one main streaming platform to lack an app for Peacock. Subscribers can strive side-loading in the event that they’re adventurous, however our recommendation is to get a unique TV if Peacock is necessary to you.Picture high quality comparisonsThe TCL 4-Series and Vizio V-series are direct rivals of the Toshiba C530, with related options and costs, in order that they make superb comparability fashions. I linked them through a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and seen them side-by-side-by-side watching a mixture of HD, 4K and 4K HDR content material.The Vizio and the TCL look very related. The Toshiba is in a technique higher and most different methods barely worse. It’s considerably brighter than both, nearing the a lot more-expensive Samsung Q60A with non-HDR content material (though with HDR content material the Samsung is much brighter). None of those TVs are dim, after all, however when you have a particularly vivid room and want all the sunshine you will get out of your TV, the Toshiba has a bonus.That mentioned, with check patterns it was readily obvious that the C350 solely achieved its peak brightness for a number of seconds, then instantly dimmed. With precise content material, this wasn’t readily noticeable. It did this no matter settings, so it is doable it was nonetheless doing it with precise content material, simply not as a lot or as noticeably as with check patterns. In different features of image high quality, the C350 is not nearly as good as the opposite two. Not considerably, however when viewing all of them on the similar time, sufficient that you may see it. The coloration is rather less correct, rather less lifelike. The distinction is rather less punchy. It wasn’t dangerous, however when I’d slide throughout the sofa to view both the TCL or Vizio (all have mediocre off-axis image high quality), these two simply seemed a bit of higher.Prime actual property?Anyone searching for a finances TV has some glorious choices all for little or no cash. The TCL 4-Series might be your best option for most individuals, particularly those that do not know their distinction from their composite. It’s simple to make use of because of its Roku interface, and has entry to all the main streaming companies. The Vizio V-Series is almost nearly as good, with extra image setting choices and a extra vigorous interface. Which leaves the C350. If you purchase all the pieces by means of Amazon, together with renting films and shopping for TV reveals, then it is most likely tremendous. But the restrictions imposed by Fire TV may be irritating in the long term. A extra budget-agnostic TV, just like the TCL/Roku or the Vizio, let you get content material any method you need (largely), with out funneling or limiting you to Amazon’s ecosystem. It’s type of like a automobile that solely drives on sure roads. If you solely drive on these roads, that is tremendous. But if you wish to take a brand new shortcut to work, you are out of luck. If somebody’s not very tech-savvy and has gotten used to Fire TV particularly, or Alexa typically, then this may be a good selection as a result of it is very a lot an Amazon product, regardless of the identify on the underside. For everybody else, nonetheless, I’d advocate the TCL or Vizio first.

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