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Toshiba C350 Fire TV (50C350KU) review

A colorful and bright budget TV, but one lacking many extra features and decent sound quality

Toshiba C350 Fire TV
(Image: © Mark Knapp)

TechRadar Verdict

The Toshiba C350 has a bright enough picture with plenty of clarity to enjoy most content, though its audio is lacking. It would fare better if it had a newer backlighting system or advanced screen features, like VRR, to stand up to its competitors.

Pros

  • +

    Great price

  • +

    Decent brightness

  • +

    Features Dolby Vision

Cons

  • -

    Sub-par audio

  • -

    Basic backlighting

  • -

    Strong competition

One-minute review

The Toshiba C350 is a budget-friendly option in a crowded TV market. At first glance, it would appear to offer some nice perks at a $369 starting price, with Dolby Vision standing out – and, in general use, the C350 can offer a fairly appealing image that makes its price that much more compelling.

On the plus side, the 4K picture gets reasonably bright, and it's paired with an anti-reflective finish on the display that makes it easy to watch almost any type of content even in a brightly lit room. But the audio isn’t as impressive as the picture, however. Even though it certainly manages to pump out a lot of volume, and features DTS Virtual:X, it's still a lot worse than other TVs that cost around the same price.

Additionally, it doesn’t have as much to offer against some of its competition on the design side either: the very similarly priced Hisense U6G boasts 60 local dimming zones with Quantum Dot backlighting for a vibrant, contrasty, bright image, whereas the C350 has basic backlighting that isn’t quite adept at color uniformity or finer control of contrast. 

Users who don’t fuss too much over the finer points of picture quality will likely be more than satisfied with the clarity of the display, and the Amazon Fire TV may offer some compelling integrations with other Amazon services, though the system can be a little sluggish. But, given the Hisense U6G can offer a more stunning image at a similar price and there are serious upgrades to be had in the 2020 TCL 6-Series for a minor price increase, the value of the Toshiba C350 may be in the availability of a smaller, 43-inch option that avoids directly competing with those other models.

Price and release date

  • Budget TV in the lower end of the market
  • Pricing starts at $369 for the 43-inch model 
  • Available in two sizes (43-inch and 50-inch) with a larger size coming soon

The Toshiba C350 Fire TV is available now in a 43-inch and 50-inch model called the 43C350KU and 50C350KU, respectively. It starts at $369 for the smaller model and jumps up to $469 for the 50-inch model. A 75-inch model is also planned but not yet available at the time of writing, and so far, all the models are US-only.

Like last year's Toshiba Fire TV, we're expecting to see it on sale for most major shopping holidays including Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday

Toshiba C350 Fire TV

(Image credit: Mark Knapp)

Design

Toshiba’s C350 doesn’t go in for ostentation, though its silver chin and silver metal stand don’t entirely lean toward subtlety. The metal legs feel sturdy and have rubber feet to hold the TV steady and prevent damage to a media stand’s surface. Toshiba has also built in simple cable holders on the back of each leg, but there isn’t any cable routing otherwise to help make for a truly tidy setup. 

The back of the TV doesn’t help with cables either, as the power cable comes out the right side while the rest of the ports are lined up on the left side – including the four HDMI ports – except the RCA jacks, which point out the back.

The C350 has thin bezels around the display that aren’t entirely unnoticeable but fade away well enough while watching content. It’s this bezel area where the peccadillos in Toshiba’s design show themselves. The screen surface itself oddly protrudes from the frame, and the chin bezel isn’t quite seamless. 

Toshiba C350 Fire TV

(Image credit: Mark Knapp)

 Smart TV (Fire TV)

  • Fire TV offers access to a wide array of services
  • However, it's not the fastest or smoothest experience

The Toshiba C350 runs on Amazon’s Fire TV operating system and this gives it easy access to a wide range of streaming content like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, YouTube and, of course, Amazon's own Prime Video streaming service. 

Setup and settings are easy to navigate and fairly simple. Operating system settings are accessible from the homescreen, while display and audio settings are a single click away on the remote, making it simple to change settings then see and hear the results immediately after. Alexa speeds things up a bit, with quick responses on the TV and easy access on the remote.

The TV isn’t the snappiest, with occasional sluggishness. It slows down particularly when it’s working to do one thing, like scrobble through a video timeline, and we try to have it do a second thing as well, like change the volume. We’ve noticed a few infrequent but not completely rare occasions of streaming apps crashing out to the home screen without any notice, which does make the slower processing a little tedious as we go back through the process of starting playback again. 

It’s never painfully slow, but even the $50 Chromecast with Google TV feels consistently more snappy. The TV does support HDMI-CEC, though, so it’s easy to use with an external video source if desired.

Toshiba C350 Fire TV

(Image credit: Mark Knapp)

Picture quality 

  • 4K HDR content is bright and vivid
  • Can deal with some ambient light
  • But doesn't do well in blackout conditions

Visuals on the C350 are crisp and detailed, particularly when viewing 4K content, though it also does a good job with non-4K content. The picture can also deliver some strong color. One would expect that color to come into play with 4K HDR content, but there’s a little inconsistency there. Some content we watched while testing was indeed vivid and rich with color, but Electric Dreams on Prime Video tended to fall short in color saturation. 

In contrast, watching Tenet on HBO Max, we enjoyed a richly colorful picture. That pairing with the sharp details made for an excellent viewing experience. The fine details of characters’ hair and textures on clothing and other materials really popped. The Blender short-film Cosmo’s Laundromat was an excellent showcase of the TV’s capabilities, with the textures of all the sheep, the contrast of the visuals, and the cyclone of colors toward the end all coming through dazzlingly.

There are two factors that help the display hold up really well in everyday viewing conditions: the brightness and the anti-reflective finish of the display. Even on a sunny day in a room with many windows, it’s easy to watch darker content. The display can get bright enough to power through, and the display avoids reflections well enough that we don’t end up looking at a reflection of our own living room any time there’s a darker scene on screen.

Where the screen is lacking, however, is in solid colors and dark viewing environments. There’s not much in the way of special technologies going on behind this LCD panel. The backlighting doesn’t do a great job of creating a perfectly uniform image, so large sections of the image that are a solid color can show this shortcoming. Those scenarios also tend to make the backlight bleeding around the edges and the darker spots at the corners more visible, while most viewing would distract from those faults. And, when viewing the C350 in a darker room, the glow of the backlights shows through more on black backgrounds and letterboxes.

Toshiba C350 Fire TV

(Image credit: Mark Knapp)

Audio performance 

  • Very mediocre sound quality
  • Speakers can get loud...
  • ...but bass is lacking and the audio mix suffers at higher volumes 

Toshiba’s solid work on visuals isn’t as well matched by the audio, but the speakers on the TV won’t leave you in the lurch when it comes to volume at least – they can pump out more than enough sound to fill a medium-sized room even at lower volume levels. If you’re just looking to hear the dialog in a sitcom, the speakers should hold up just fine. 

But, when it comes to more complex audio mixes, with soundtracks, sound effects, and audio all happening at once, the sound suffers. Action ends up feeling a little deadened by a lack of oomph from the bass, and certain high-frequency sounds seem to cut through the mix (like silverware rattling in the background of a diner scene). 

The TV comes running DTS Virtual:X at Medium by default, which seems to exacerbate this odd mixing behavior. Turning it off creates a better balance, though also flattens the sound some. 

Should you buy the Toshiba C350 Fire TV?

Toshiba C350 Fire TV

(Image credit: Mark Knapp)

Buy it if...

You want an affordable screen that just works
The Toshiba C350 may not have a ton of super special features, but it can certainly get the job done with a picture that’s sharp, colorful, and easy to see in most situations.

You’re after a smaller 4K TV
While we reviewed the 50-inch model, Toshiba offers an extra-affordable 43-inch version that doesn’t have quite as much competition from Hisense and TCL models.

You often view in a bright or partially-lit room
Where the Toshiba C350 looks best is in brighter conditions, as its anti-reflective finish and higher brightness levels easily handle that scenario, whereas darker conditions start to let its faults show.  

Don’t buy it if… 

You're looking for the latest features
The Toshiba C350 is totally OK, but you’ll be missing out on more advanced features like local dimming, quantum dot backlighting, and high refresh rates, some of which are actually available at a competitive price point.

You plan to game a lot
4K at 60Hz may be acceptable for some, but there are a lot of gaming TVs stepping this up with 120Hz panels that also tout VRR technology. All the Toshiba offers gamers is ALLM, which is a fancy way of saying it disables some processing to reduce latency.

You like to watch in the dark
This TV’s backlighting is bright. While it hides itself well in brighter rooms, the backlighting bleed is more apparent as a room gets darker. So, in a very dark room, you might start to notice the ways this display falls short of competitors with local dimming.

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.