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A user-focused Toshiba M550 review gives you a feel of how an affordable Fire TV works in real-world settings.
It’s been a while since the mid-range Toshiba M550 series made its first appearance in May 2021. Now, potential buyers learn from the experiences of earlier buyers who use the TV daily.
Toshiba M550 review: What to expect from a mid-range Fire TV
The M550 has the pricing of a budget TV, thanks to price cuts and good bargains from online retailers. For a few hundred dollars, you get a modern TV with the following conveniences:
- 4K resolution and support for HDR content
- Virtual surround sound and support for height sound channels (Dolby Atmos)
- A refresh rate of 120 fps to support newer, fast-action content
- Gamers will appreciate the presence of VRR (variable refresh rate) to prevent screen tearing in console games with lower frame rates
- Fire TV offers an ecosystem of streaming apps, smart home connectivity, and useful tools
These features are the major selling points that Toshiba uses to advertise the M550 Fire TV. Let’s find out if the performance of this smart TV matches its specs.
Build quality and design
Most affordable TV sets have plastic housing with varying levels of build quality. The Toshiba M550 Fire TV has a solid plastic chassis with a matte finish and thin bezels. It is 2.5 inches thick, slim enough for a neat wall-mount installation.
The central panel expands into an extension with a set of vents, a 300×200 VESA wall mount pattern, and two sets of inputs. You’ll easily access the side-facing ports, but the rear-facing inputs could be a challenge if you mount the TV.
Toshiba M550 review: Inputs and connectivity
We start with four HDMI 2.1 ports that come with enhancements like:
- Auto low latency mode activates when the TV detects an active gaming console. It deactivates when the console becomes inactive
- Some HDMI 2.1 ports support quick frame transport, a feature that lowers the input lag between two devices
- Variable refresh rate (VRR)adjusts the frame rate of a display to match the frame rate of a PC or gaming console
- Support for dynamic (as opposed to static) HDR that offers even better image quality
- Higher bandwidth to allow for higher-resolution content with high frame rates
These enhancements improve how the Toshiba M550 handles content from external sources. The resultant motion handling makes for smooth, responsive gameplay. Action movies, sports, and other fast-paced content that comes through the HDMI ports look just as good.
The outward-facing input columns include a coax connector, a composite video port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a USB port, along with the HDMI ports. The rear input panel houses an Ethernet port and a digital optical port.
AV format support
The M550 Fire TV supports Dolby Atmos, meaning the panel will try to mimic an overhead speaker. Connecting a sound system with overhead channels turns the Toshiba M550 into an immersive home theater experience. The TV also expands two-channel audio into a simulation of surround sound.
Dolby Vision and HDR 10 formats are just two of many video formats that the Toshiba M550 supports.
Toshiba M550 review: Fire TV platform and smart features
Amazon’s smart TV interface comes with numerous streaming apps and Alexa skills that make your life easier. You also get lots of gaming apps and productivity tools to choose from. Here are a few highlights of the Fire TV platform
1. Hands-free voice control for Alexa
Far-field microphones allow Alexa to catch your voice commands at some distance from the TV. With your voice alone, you can switch from cable TV to a Blu-Ray player or stream your favorite show without lifting a finger.
2. Compatible with Ring home security
Picture-in-picture mode activates to display a live security feed whenever someone approaches any of your Ring cameras.
3. Fire TV turns the Toshiba M550 into a smart home hub
You can control and operate compatible smart home devices from a single dashboard on the Fire TV platform.
Toshiba M550 review: Hardware and performance
The Toshiba M550 Fire TV is a 120Hz VA panel with direct array backlighting and 48 local dimming zones. Local dimming means that the panel can execute deep blacks by preventing light bleed through from brighter regions of an image. The result is good contrast that allows the M550 Fire TV to render fine detail in SDR and HDR.
Color accuracy, brightness, and contrast
Along with 4K resolution, the M550 also has a broad color palette that provides enough material for accurate color reproduction. The panel’s processor uses the expansive color gamut to render colors that closely match your content.
Though the M550 gets pretty bright, it falls short of peak brightness levels that deliver stunning HDR content. This limitation takes away from the panel’s ability to render vivid HDR images. That said, the Toshiba M550 has a reasonable contrast ratio and performs well for a TV in its price range.
VA panels have narrow viewing angles that cause images to dim and wash out as you move to the side of the TV. The M550 has the same drawback.
A refresh rate of 120 frames per second is impressive for any panel, let alone an affordable TV like the M550. It gets better, with low input lag and the capability to activate game mode whenever the TV detects an active gaming console. Game mode decreases input lag even further, which makes for smooth gameplay.
- Far-field microphones that let you use hands-free voice commands with Alexa
- Amazon’s Fire TV interface has native support for the Ring® home security system
- Fire TV is also compatible with a range of smart home devices, and you can use the TV as a smart home hub
- Good image quality and low input lag
- Support for height channels (Dolby Atmos) and HDR 10 content (Dolby Vision)
- Some users report that the Fire TV UI is sluggish, so you may need to do a software update
- Narrow viewing angles
- Far-field microphones may be a privacy concern for some users
Toshiba M550 review: An affordable smart TV with good specs
For a modest sum, the Toshiba M550 Fire TV offers plenty of content and valuable smart home tools. You also get a 4K TV that does a decent job of showing all your favorite content. This Toshiba M550 review finds an affordable Fire TV with good qualities. Click here to learn more about this television.