Toshiba M550 Review: Fire TV Gets a Hardware Upgrade

Toshiba M550 review

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This Toshiba M550 review looks at a budget TV that promises a slew of smart features and good picture quality.

The M550 is an affordable 4K panel that runs Amazon’s Fire TV interface. It competes with the Omni series, Amazon’s brand of smart televisions. 

Until recently, Fire TV was the preserve of budget displays with passable picture quality and limited features. Now there’s a shift to high-performance TVs with a broader selection of smart features. 

This Toshiba M550 review explores where this television fits in the expanded Fire TV lineup.

Toshiba M550 review: First thoughts

There are barely any bezels visible on the screen of the M550, which gives the TV an edgy, frameless look. Only the bottom bezel has any presence, with just enough room for the Toshiba logo and a few controls.

Toshiba M550 review

The panel sits in a charcoal-black, plastic6d chassis with a matte finish. It has a boxy side profile because of an extension that piggybacks off the screen. This extension holds a set of vents and a 300×200 VESA wall-mount pattern. It also houses hardware like internal speakers, ports, and circuitry.

Inputs and connectivity

You’ll find two sets of ports on the left side of the TV, with the outward-facing inputs being the easiest to reach. This column of side-facing ports comprise of:

  • An antenna connector
  • A composite video port
  • Four HDMI ports, all with HDMI 2.1 capability
  • A 3.5mm audio jack
  • One USB port

The rear-facing ports consist of an Ethernet jack and a digital optical port. A dual-band wireless adapter takes care of Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.

[Read what others are saying about this television]

Smart interface: Fire TV

Fire TV is a smooth, responsive interface with a good selection of content and plenty of smart features. The interface allows the Toshiba M550 to interact with compatible smart-home devices like Amazon’s Ring security gear. Here is what you have to look forward to with Fire TV:

1. Hands-free voice control for Alexa

Once you set up the M550, you access the voice assistant in one of two ways. You can use the microphone button on the remote to speak to Alexa, but there’s an easier option. The far-field microphones in the TV allow for hands-free voice commands.

You can ask Alexa to switch from your gaming equipment to your cable box without lifting a finger. You can ask the assistant to check the weather report or show you the live feed from your Ring doorbell.

2. Picture-in-picture mode

This helpful feature lets you watch a TV show as you keep an eye on the front door or a news feed.

3. All your favorite apps

Fire TV comes with pre-installed streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and pretty much anything else you can think of. There’s also a good selection of music apps to choose from. The app store is also a great source of content and productivity tools.

4. An interface that learns your usage patterns and viewing preferences

Fire TV aggregates content from all your input sources to create a single, easy-to-use menu. It also learns your preferences to make a custom menu of your favorite things.  

Unfortunately, ads and recommendations from Amazon will clutter your home page. There’s nothing much you can do about it, seeing as there’s no way to opt-out of the intrusion.

Toshiba M550 review: Hardware

The Toshiba M550 is a 4K VA panel with direct-array LED backlighting and dozens of local dimming zones. This makes for precision dimming, which goes a long way to create fine detail and excellent contrast.

A powerful processor takes care of color reproduction, motion handling, and sound production. The TV has a native refresh rate of 120Hz, a new development for displays that run Fire TV. 

16GB worth of flash memory lowers the input lag of the TV while adding to its processing power. This improves the panel’s motion handling and the responsiveness of the smart TV interface.

Lastly, the TV has a pair of 10-watt speakers capable of simulating height channels and a wide soundstage.

1. Picture quality: Color gamut and color accuracy

The panel has an expansive color palette that provides plenty of material for the image processing engine. Toshiba’s Regza 4K engine uses this wide color gamut to reproduce colors that are close matches to the source signal. The result is high-fidelity colors that are accurate and vivid.

2. Picture quality: HDR content, brightness, and contrast

The M550 supports Dolby HDR and HDR 10+ video formats, thanks to good brightness levels and localized dimming. This allows the TV to execute lifelike highlights, small details, and stark contrast. The end result is a level of depth and texture that draws you in. This display creates 3D simulation and lighting that make your favorite nature shows seem like real life.

3. Picture quality: Motion handling

Toshiba’s Regza engine makes good use of the panel’s 120Hz refresh rate. The pixels of the M550 change colors in less than 30 milliseconds in standard mode. Input lag is low in game mode, where it only takes a few milliseconds for your inputs to register on the screen. Unfortunately, the panel lacks support for variable refresh rates, limiting its capability as a gaming screen.

Motion smoothing minimizes the likelihood of choppy movement from fast-action content. The TV will also upscale video with lower frame rates to create high-resolution, high frame-rate upgrades.

Toshiba M550 review: Sound

The 10-watt speakers in the Toshiba M550 are impressive for a pair of internal drivers. They work with the panel’s processor to simulate height channels and a wide soundstage. The result is convincing, but it doesn’t hurt to connect an external sound system.

Pros

  • The pleasant, bezel-free design
  • Far-field microphones allow for hands-free voice commands
  • Precise local dimming and excellent contrast
  • Good motion handling, which makes for enjoyable gameplay
  • Support for Dolby Atmos is an additional perk

Cons

  • The Fire TV interface has clutter, primarily because of intrusive ads and recommendations
  • Lack of variable refresh rate (VRR) takes away from the panel’s gaming capability
  • Narrow viewing angles
  • Sticklers for privacy may dislike the internal microphones in the TV

Toshiba M550 review verdict: A good TV for users of Amazon services

The Toshiba M550 has all the content and smart features you would want from a modern TV. Its picture quality is good, and the sound that comes from the TV is impressive. This Toshiba M550 is a smart TV that’s a good fit for anyone who wants or has an Amazon subscription. Click here to learn more about this television.

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