I also test TVs for a living — and this 65-inch TV under $500 is all you need


Does your computer’s monitor have a refresh rate of 120 hertz? Check. The Dolby Vision HDR? Check. Integrated Amazon Fire TV? Check.

(Image credit: Toshiba)

Once you get to a certain degree with TVs, there are diminishing returns, as there are with any other sort of technology. You’ll get the best black levels and contrast from the best OLED TVs, and you’ll get the best colour saturation and brightness from the best QLED TVs.

Some inexpensive choices, like the Toshiba M550 Series Amazon Fire TV, can supply 80 percent of what you’ll get from the more expensive devices for a third of the price.


In spite of the fact that it was only introduced in May, the model is quickly gaining traction as one of the finest TVs under $500 because to its native 120Hz panel, Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+ compatibility, and built-in Amazon Fire TV smart platform with Alexa.

If you’re looking for the greatest 65-inch TV under $500, this is the one I’d buy based on its specs alone. Without TV testing data, it’s impossible to say for sure if it can live up to the hype.

What do the specs mean? 

Line by line, let’s dissect the requirements. This is a 4K HDR television. That means it has four times the resolution of a 1080p HD TV and can display material with a high dynamic range (HDR) (HDR). In contrast to conventional dynamic range footage, HDR employs a wider colour spectrum. Compared to a non-HDR TV, an HDR TV offers more vivid whites, deep blacks, and vibrant colours.


There are two more advanced forms of HDR available, Dolby Vision and HDR10+, both of which provide shot-by-shot HDR calibration. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ enable custom-tuned HDR performance to better fit the filmmaker’s aims rather than a single defined peak brightness level for white highlights and a single lower limit for black levels.

(Image credit: Toshiba)

Even though it isn’t an OLED TV, the M550 features a full array local dimming backlight instead of edge-lit or direct-lit illumination. With less haloing and splotchy spots of grey in the backdrop, the contrast will appear more uniform.

If you’re looking for a TV with a native refresh rate of 120 Hz, the M550 is your best bet. Around this price point, you’ll find most TVs with a refresh rate of 60Hz. To put it another way, a TV refreshes the screen 60 times each second. This is a problem because most movies are shot at 24 frames per second, and a TV’s inherent 60Hz refresh rate requires it to unevenly split the incoming frames in order to fit that into the frame rate (traditionally called a 3:2 pulldown technique).


As a result, images captured at 24 frames per second look more realistic because to the 120Hz refresh rate, which requires no additional processing of the inbound data.

Not only does this TV support 120Hz, but it also has a customizable refresh rate of up to 60Hz, which comes in handy if you’re planning on hooking up an Xbox One S or PlayStation 5, respectively. There will be no tearing or stuttering in a game if the TV’s refresh rate matches the game’s frame rate.

Plus, it has Amazon Fire TV with Alexa 

M550’s other wonderful feature is that it comes preloaded with the Fire TV smart platform, the same one you’d get if you purchased an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. ‘


Being able to control your TV and any apps you choose to use with just one remote is one of the many benefits of having a streaming media player built into your television.

The Fire TV platform offers all the greatest streaming services pre-installed: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Prime Video are all available.

Although I’ve always thought Amazon Fire TV relies a little too heavily on Prime Video suggestions, I suppose Amazon will continue to be Amazon.


For the final bonus of having Amazon Fire TV installed, Alexa can be used as an Amazon Echo. If you’ve already made a significant investment in smart home technology, you can use Alexa to control other smart devices in your home or request directions to a nearby restaurant while you’re watching a show or movie. As a bonus, Alexa can turn on the TV, adjust the volume, and switch inputs using your voice if you misplace the remote control.

There is a physical switch on the TV that may be used to disable the microphone if you don’t want another device listening to you. It’s all up to you.

According to users, it’s got some bugs 

So why hasn’t the Toshiba M550 swept the television industry? According to customer evaluations on Best Buy’s website, a few people are reporting issues with the TVs’ software.


Because of this, the most bothersome of these issues appears be a default setting of Smooth Motion when you turn off your TV. If you’re sensitive to the soap opera effect, you’ll find this very aggravating (effectively an over-processed picture that makes the characters on the screen look too lifelike).

If you’re frequently turning the TV on and off during the day, the cure is simple: just go into the settings menu and turn it off.

In addition to this, reviewers have noticed the issue of blank screens and no audio while changing sources. HDMI devices may fail to pair with the TV via a digital handshake, for example. However, it appears that the problem has been rectified


Bottom line

The Toshiba M550 is a well-rounded TV for the money. Dolby Vision and Alexa are included, as well as a 65-inch panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. While some may choose to wait until the aforementioned issues are resolved, this set is sure to please. Keep an eye out for our own review.

Leave a Comment