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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Fire OS built in
4K UHD and HDR picture quality
Powerful in-unit speaker
Picture settings require tweaking
Interface is cluttered
Issue with picture distortion
Remote feels flimsy and lags at times
The Toshiba 55LF711U20 55-inch Fire TV Edition is an affordable 4K smart TV with Alexa built in, but the picture quality sometimes reflects the price tag.
The Toshiba 55LF711U20 55-inch Fire TV Edition packs all the functionality of an Amazon Fire TV streaming device right into its chassis. This 55-inch LED smart TV combines affordability with Alexa, Amazon Prime content, and access to over 500,000 episodes across your favorite streaming platforms. We thoroughly tested the Toshiba’s picture quality, display settings, and the Fire OS interface and usability.
The Toshiba 55-inch Fire TV is not a small device. While it only weighs 31.3 pounds with the stand (though the stand itself weighs less than a pound), it’s both tall and wide enough to make moving and installing it a two-person job. The TV’s dimensions with the stand are 27.8 inches tall, 44.6 inches wide, and 10.7 inches deep, and the screen size (on a diagonal) measures at 49.5 inches.
There’s no wall mount included in the box, but there are four standard VESA mounting holes on the back of the unit for safe and easy installation. In a smaller space, wall-mounting this television might not be a bad idea. Even in the relatively modestly-sized room where we tested the TV, it nearly completely took up the entire shelf where we placed it and a broad swath of the wall behind it. This TV is not particularly thin and actually tends to be a bit bulky in the very back of the unit, and the stand also adds width. The legs splay out and require a wide, long surface to accommodate them.
An attractive option for shoppers who want a smart 4K TV under $500.
The other important component is the Alexa-enabled remote, which is small, lightweight, and contains a circular dial with directional controls and play/pause functionality. You also have the benefit of summoning Alexa with the touch of the speaker button, which is intuitively placed at the top of the remote (though we often accidentally hit it when we were trying to push the Home button, which is right below it).
The buttons are clearly laid out on the remote, and it’s convenient to have volume and mute controls in addition to a shortcut button to antenna channels. There are also some shortcut buttons as well: Prime Video, Nextflix, HBO, and Vue.
There are some downsides to the remote’s overall quality. Unlike other Fire TV remotes that create a completely smooth and seamless effect on the back, this remote is a lot more traditional, with a tab for pulling off the battery cover. It makes an unfortunate creaking noise almost every time you push a button, and while it never fell off the noise was distracting and contributed to the plastic and flimsy feel of the remote.
There is a little setup required out of the box, whether you wall mount it or attach the stand. We chose the latter and found the instructions to be straightforward. Each leg requires both a longer 35 mm screw to help create a secure attachment to the bottom of the TV and two 10 mm screws that secure the legs to the back of the unit.
Installing the legs isn’t complicated, but it can be awkward because you need to place the TV screen-side down on a soft or cushioned surface. It helps to have a bit of space to do this either on a sofa or a clean, carpeted area, and maybe a helping hand to situate the TV wherever you plan to put it.
Once the legs were in place, we placed the TV on a table and plugged in the power cord. The TV powered on immediately and we were prompted to press the play/pause button on the remote to begin setup.
We were guided through a quick process of connecting to Wi-Fi, signing in with Amazon account credentials, and registering the TV to our account. While you can enjoy this television without an existing Amazon account, you will have to create one in order to complete setup and gain access to all apps. The whole setup only takes a few moments, though, and we were on the Home screen of the Fire OS interface before we knew it.
While setting up the TV was very fast and took only a few minutes, we did have to spend some time adjusting the picture settings. Unfortunately, this is not something the online user manual provides much insight about.
We headed straight for 4K resolution content on Amazon Prime and played a number of movies and TV series. What we found was that it consistently took about a minute for the picture to kick into Ultra HD HDR. The default standard picture settings yielded an incredibly dark picture with too much contrast. The reds were very exaggerated and the low-light scenes, especially scenes at night, were very difficult to see.
Accessing the HDR picture settings is not exactly intuitive. Long-pressing the Home button on the remote brings up a shortcut menu and that’s where we were able to access HDR picture settings. Picture settings can be found under Display and Sounds in the main Settings menu, but there’s only a blanket setting for all app and video content. Settings that work for regular HD content, which was the majority of the content we viewed, were inadequate for HDR content.
Ultra HD HDR content shines in a realistic and rich way.
For the best Ultra HD HDR picture quality, we found that changing to movie mode instead of standard smoothed out the saturation a bit. For good measure we also turned off Dynamic Backlight, HDR Tone Mapping, and MPEG Noise Reduction. This helped the Ultra HD HDR content shine in a realistic and rich way.
Another image quality issue we encountered was video artifacts, which are glitches and distortions in picture quality. This can be a result of data loss due to media file compression, signal interference, or other factors. It was a particular problem when viewing HD Amazon Prime content, but we also observed it in Hulu content. Turning off Edge Enhancer and Motion Processing from the picture settings menu helped eliminate artifacting when streaming media, but it didn’t resolve this issue when we watched live TV via Hulu. There we got long sequences of pixelated content and macroblocking, where the image appeared broken up into blocky chunks.
We did switch the picture mode to Game when playing an HD game, but didn’t notice a significant difference in quality. The picture was already quite vibrant and clear without making this switch, and the only discernible difference was that Game mode made color tones a bit more saturated. Presumably the panel is deactivating some post-processing to improve input lag, but we didn’t notice a significant difference in either quality or latency.
The Toshiba 55LF711U20 is outfitted with two 10-watt speakers enhanced with DTS Studio Sound. According to DTS, this technology smooths transitions, volume, and bass levels while changing channels or sources.
Audio quality isn’t spectacular but is generally consistent and clear across media. The volume can get quite loud and fill the room, which is good if you don’t plan to add additional home-entertainment speakers. There are also bass, treble, and balancing settings that help cater to your individual EQ preferences.
Like the suite of picture settings, there are sound modes to achieve the most appropriate audio experience based on what media you’re consuming. These modes include Standard, Movie, Music, Clear Voice, and a user-defined Custom mode. Movie mode seemed to work out best for our preferences, yielding neither an extremely tinny nor bassy sound.
There are also the DTS TruSurround and TruVolume controls—TruSurround is on by default and functions to create a richer and more amplified sound, but TruVolume is off. Flipping it on helped control and even out fluctuations in sound, which was a problem we encountered streaming some content on Netflix and Hulu.
This Toshiba TV runs on Fire OS, which is easy to interact with but has some quirks. As an Amazon product it feature Amazon Prime content first and foremost, which may be convenient for Prime subscribers but is slightly less so if you’re primarily looking for Netflix or Hulu content. We found that the remote occasionally lagged if we didn’t point it directly toward the TV sensors, and virtually any time we loaded and exited apps or spun up Prime content. Loading time varied from a few seconds to upwards of ten. There’s also an odd bug when exiting out of the Hulu app. It routinely took about five seconds before the system got us back to the Home dashboard, before which it would take us to the Hulu home page.
The Fire OS Home menu is the spot that features recent apps, downloaded apps, as well as suggested content based on viewing activity. This arrangement is clear enough, but wading through options becomes more confusing based on the other menu pages, which include Movies, Live, TV Shows, Apps, and Your Videos. Much of the content you’ll see across these pages is duplicated, so overlap is a part of the user experience, which means clutter and confusion. Once you get a handle on this arrangement it’s easy enough to wade through, but a more streamlined layout would be welcome.
One way to avoid what can feel like a labored navigation experience is to use Alexa. But that doesn’t always make the process any easier. When testing commands like “Tune to ABC” in Hulu Live, we encountered a bunch of error messages. Searching the whole system for content through Alexa can make your life easier. Doing so brings up a menu of choices, displaying content availability on various streaming platforms as well as whether content is free or available for rent or purchase. Once you make a decision, Alexa takes you directly to the content.
At around $450, the Toshiba Fire TV Edition is an attractive option for shoppers who want a smart 4K TV under $500. It’s considerably lighter than other smart TVs that skew more toward the $1,000 price range and offers solid sound and picture quality, plus instant access to myriad streaming apps and services.
If you’re thinking about cutting the cord with a streaming media player and purchasing a new TV, this Toshiba TV is a solid option that won’t require you to pay through the nose. It’s even more appealing if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber and if you like the idea of a built-in voice assistant.
If you’re looking for a happy medium between features/functionality, saving space, and affordability, the TCL 50S425 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED Roku TV may be a worthy option. This smart 4K television retails for under $400 and blends 4K Ultra HD quality with HDR, resulting in vivid and exceptional picture quality for the price. The Roku TV is not only cheaper than the Toshiba Fire TV Edition, but it’s also 1 pound lighter despite being both slightly taller, wider, and deeper than the Toshiba 55LF711U20.
The other benefit of the Roku TV is the interface, which is more streamlined than the Fire OS dashboard. If you’re not overly enthusiastic about Alexa or Google Assistant, you could choose to integrate either down the line with the Roku—since it’s compatible with both—or forego them altogether. Alternatively, the Roku app also offers a handy mobile remote and voice control. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber you’ll still have easy access to that content through the Prime app, though it won’t be as prominent, which is actually a boon.
Consider some of our other picks for the best cheap TVs or the best TVs under $500.
A capable smart TV for active Amazon Prime users.
The Toshiba 55LF711U20 55-inch Fire TV Edition is a big, bold, affordable 4K smart TV that’s ideal for Amazon Prime subscribers and Alexa users. It offers solid sound and picture quality, especially once you’ve chosen the configuration that work best for your viewing preferences.
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