Fortunately, it does. The L2300U has a simple design and offers bare bones usability, but bolsters its value by producing a high-quality picture. Color integrity and fine details were especially well-preserved, and anyone but the most strict picture perfectionist would find no flaw with the images produced by this TV. For its sale price—the 50-inch version is currently $749—this is a solid, frills-free display.

Ah, the simple elegance of... gray plastic?

From the get-go, I was excited to unbox this TV and set it up. It appeared to be fashioned from beveled steel, shimmering gloriously, a single seamless object. Boy, was I wrong.

"The stand is particularly flimsy, and kept popping open..."

The Toshiba L2300U is certainly metal "looking," but it's almost entirely plastic. The stand—a simple rectangle—is particularly flimsy, and kept popping open on the bottom while I was taking pictures. The semi-thin bezel around the screen is fitted rather poorly, leaving a few unsightly gaps between itself and the screen.

In short, this TV is cheap. It comes with a single other object, a very basic infrared remote, which is fitted with some entirely useless Play, Pause, and Stop buttons as though the TV had a built-in DVD player. Though, at this price point, I'd more expect a built-in VCR a la Magnavox. I suppose you could use them for USB playback.

As far as usability goes, I can't knock the L2300U. It features a standard array of ports, and easy-to-find on-set controls. One advantage of its cheap build is that it's very lightweight, and hefting it about didn't feel like hefting. More like toting, or even nudging—it's only 37 pounds. The 50-inch version we used for a test sample may have just been having a bad day, but it seemed chintzy. I guess for a $749 sale price, high-end design is what you (don't) pay for.

Simple selection, A-plus audio

After recently reviewing a slew of higher-end 2013 TVs (Panasonic VT60, Samsung F8500, Sharp 757U), I went into my time with the L2300U expecting the most basic software and features; it still didn't really prepare me for just how "dressed down" this thing is.

"The L2300U really delivers all of the basic display necessities."

Not that that's a bad thing, by any means. If you're not looking for some kind of home-integrated media manager, the L2300U really delivers all of the basic display necessities. The software at work here allows for picture and audio management, USB playback of photos and music, and even a "game timer" so your kids don't spend the entirety of their waking hours in front of a screen.

I truly feel this TV's biggest non-performance based asset is its Audyssey-brand integrated speakers. Toshiba's been partnered with Audyssey in this regard for a couple of years, but before now they've never really impressed me. The speakers on the L2300U are—for whatever reason—very clear, crisp, and loud; we played back some of the album Rush (by the band Rush), and those particular MP3s sounded particularly excellent (minus Geddy Lee's banshee-like screeching).

"I truly feel this TV's biggest non-performance based asset is its integrated speakers."

Poor audio often accompanies egregiously expensive televisions, and has been a complaint from audio-video connoiseurs for years. Finding such speaker power in this cheaply priced, entry-level TV is like finding that the sliced bread you just bought is actually a series of pre-made sandwiches. I'd even be so bold as to say that an investment in this product as a TV could double as an investment in living-room audio; you can turn the screen off and use it strictly for audio playback. Suddenly, those Play/Pause/Skip buttons on the remote seem a lot more useful.

The L2300U features a full suite of audio EQ options, complete with multiple surround options that allow you to adjust the speaker performance and output to the TV's particular living space. Color me impressed.

Outside of the stellar audio, there's not much else to this thing. You've got three HDMI inputs and a single USB input, and the usual component/composite cluster of ports on the rear of the panel. The stand doesn't allow for panel swivel, and the IR sensor (which is placed far to the right of the lower bezel) is a little finicky; you have to really aim the remote to get consistent, fluid feedback on-screen.

For the price, great picture quality

If you've laughed, cried, and nodded in agreement while reading through the previous two sections, you'll know by now that the Toshiba L2300U series is severely simple in its presentation and features. The design, a little on the chintzy side, is equal in simplicity to the on-board software. Really, the only thing this TV has to offer—at this point—is high-quality picture.

The Toshiba L2300U possesses stellar high-ambient picture quality—it's bright, vivid, and crisp, and looks best in medium to high room lighting. Like years past, Toshiba's engineers seem to know what they're doing, as this TV's color accuracy and integrity is very good for an entry-level LCD.

"Toshiba's engineers seem to know what they're doing."

We've found that the quality of this TV's picture matches the praise-worthy audio detailed in the above section. While its contrast ratio is not terribly large—it's about average—the L2300U possesses a powerful luminance, lighting a path between its relatively gray black level to provide ample black/white differentiation to human eyes. Its color gamut is very accurate, meaning the billions of colors it displays will be properly saturated, maintaining the look and detail intended by the director or designer of whatever content you're watching.

The L2300U fights to reduce garish glare simply by virtue of its brightness, but it also boasts a fairly commendable horizontal viewing angle for a liquid crystal TV. We found its unassisted motion performance to at least not drag down its final tally—while there's the usual blurring to be expected from an LCD with no motion smoothing abilities, it's definitely a usual, palatable amount.

"The L2300U fights to reduce garish glare simply by virtue of its brightness."

If you're looking for an accurately-colored, bright-pictured TV, the L2300U is a good choice; it makes up for its lack of extraneous features and exhasutive menus by supplementing its simple presentation with objectively and subjectively pleasing picture quality. Good job, Toshiba. The L2300U is a rare haven for those consumers who are tired of frills and "all-in-one" aspiring smart TVs.

For the price, a good deal

The Toshiba L2300U series may be entry-level, but its picture quality is not. It seems like Toshiba has taken pains to avoid trapping consumers in a feature fight: "This one is 3D but not smart, this one is both, this one feeds your dog, this one is 3D but doesn't come in 1080p," etc. The L2300U doesn't do anything extra except play back USB content. Its on-board software is basic, and cheap. The design? Also cheap. The result, though, is that you're only paying for the sweet, sweet panel embedded inside.

For the prices across the series—they range from about $400 to a little under $1000—this is a decent deal. While Panasonic's S60 series is probably the best deal if you want a frills-free 2013 plasma with the deepest black levels possible, the Toshiba L2300U series is a slightly less expensive, LCD option better suited for brighter rooms. As a plus, this entry-level model has great audio quality, definitely above average. Consumers just looking for the basics, seeking solid picture and sound that won't pick your pocket, should keep this series in mind.
Welcome to the Science Page, where we filter all the number-ridden charts and test results too techy for the front page. All of our testing is conducted using the Konica Minolta CS-200 chroma meter (for color-based tests) and the Konica Minolta LS-100 luma meter (for luminance-based tests). We follow a series of test patterns supported by Dr. Ray Soneira's renowned DisplayMate software.

Entirely average contrast specs

When it comes to contrast ratio, I've tested a couple of real heavy-hitters so far this year; to make it clear, a five-digit contrast ratio is not (yet) the norm for TVs. For a low-end LED, we're still hoping to see it break 1000:1 (though more is welcome). The L2300U tested with a contrast ratio of 1275:1, which is just okay.

For what you're paying, that's not an awful result. You're not going to get shadowy, inky blacks like you would from a plasma TV; the L2300U's black level tested at 0.259 cd/m2 , which is not very dark at all. Fortunately, those black levels are contrasted with a healthy 20% APL brightness of 330.40 cd/m2 .

For the type and price, quite good

While the general consensus is that LCDs possess worse color accuracy than plasmas, the L2300U is an exception. We test color temperature, luminance, u-prime, and v-prime aspects of color using the Konica Minolta CS-200 chroma meter. These results are compared to the international standards for digital color—called Rec. 709—and the TV is scored based on how closely it matches those standards.

The L2300U's color gamut was extremely accurate compared to the Rec. 709 standard. This Toshiba showed mild errors at all four points, but none of them were heavily pronounced: its greatest error measured 0.0123 at D65, and its smallest error just 0.0048 at blue, neither of which are easily noticed by human vision. Overall, the L2300U's peak red, green, blue, and white are perceptibly perfect.

The L2300U showed the most trouble maintaining consistent color temperature. While current digital displays will hit usually about 6500° K, our testing focus is more on diagnosing fluctuations in temperature overall, and the L2300U had many. Its reference white/black were close to the ideal, but across its intensity input, it tends to hit higher temperatures, resulting in a blueish tinting of mid-tone greys.

Finally, we're very impressed by the L2300U's color curves, which were exceedingly smooth and uniform. We want to see each of the curves—red, green, blue, and greyscale—moving in a gradual slope, as this lends the most detail to all hues and shades. While each peaked slightly early, the clipping was minimal overall. This is a good result.

Take it or leave it

That dismissive header you just read is indicative of how I feel about this LCD's viewing angle. It's not so narrow that we've got major qualms, and there won't be any major color shifting at obtuse off-angles, but the full span of horizontal viewing is still fairly limited. We tested a total viewing angle of 65°, or 33° from center to either side of the screen. At a regular seating distance, that's going to allow you and one other friend comfortable viewing... but we don't recommend wall-mounting this Toshiba.

Meet the testers

Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor

@Koanshark

Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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