Week 3, 2017: $300 system with 43-inch TV and soundbar

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 3, 2017

Q. I need a new TV around 40 inches in size and am not interested in anything expensive or high end. I’d like to keep it around $300 and if it is not asking too much, I’d like to get a soundbar too. Is it possible to do this with my budget?

-J.L., South Bend, IN

A. I received a few variations of this question in the past few weeks. If it was my $300, this is what I would do.

Best Buy has a 43-inch Toshiba 1080p HDTV model number 43L420U that lists for $249. It can usually be purchased for less than that and at the time I wrote this column it was on sale for $229. If you visit a Best Buy store you will probably find them in boxes not far from the televisions on display. They never have this TV running the demo loop next to the other ones they sell. I think part of the reason for this is because it would cannibalize sales of some of the more expensive televisions, as the 43L420U is a nice TV for not much money. Those who have actually purchased it gave it a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from 869 reviews, with 97% saying they would recommend it to a friend.

Given that Best Buy never actually demonstrates the picture quality of this television in their stores, I went out and bought one myself to see if the happy owners were on to something. I am glad to say that they were. After you go into the television’s picture settings and set the color temperature to warm (this is mandatory) you are greeted with an image that is natural and pleasing to watch, though it has its limitations.

Those of us in the reviewing biz will often discuss sins of omission vs. sins of commission. A sin of omission might be a speaker that is a little bit weak in the bass or that doesn’t play especially loud. Sins of commission for a speaker would be something like bright, harsh treble that quickly becomes fatiguing, or booming, fake bass that drowns out the midrange. Sins of commission tend to be a lot harder to live with than sins of omission, especially in budget products. The Toshiba 43L420U tends towards sins of omission, which is what you want in a 43-inch TV selling for under $250. Sure, it could be sharper, the colors could be richer, and the blacks could be blacker, but you will never get tired watching it. A lot of its competitors under $500 look pretty awful, with fake-looking motion, cartoonish colors, and when you see someone’s hair on screen it looks like it was put on with a paintbrush. After too much of that your eyes need a rest.

To complete your $300 budget special you will need a soundbar, and you don’t need to leave Best Buy to get it. The Insignia NS-SB316 soundbar is the latest version of a soundbar I have recommended for over a year now. It lists for $99.99, is currently $79.99 and I have seen it on sale for as low as $49.99. You can wait for it to go on sale, but if I were you I would just get it all at once and be done with it. Connect them with the $3.99 Dynex 4-foot optical cable and you have your system for only $313.97 + tax, all purchased from the same place with little shopping time or effort.

High-end? Not at all. A good value that satisfies the budget-minded? Absolutely.