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Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Which sub-$500 smart TV wins?

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV
(Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TVs are among the most popular around, but why? When you want cheap TVs, there are so many options to choose from, and not all of them good. If you've looked at our list of the best TVs under $500, or even just browsed the highlights of any recent weekend sale, you've definitely seen Fire TVs, and probably wondered if they're even worth buying when they sell for so little.

The good news is that Amazon smart TVs tend to be better than most TVs in the same price bracket, and as long as you make sure you're getting a 4K model, you can rest assured that both Insignia and Toshiba Fire TVs are a good value, with or without those stunningly low prices.

But which is better, the Insignia Fire TV, or the Toshiba Fire TV? We've reviewed both, which you can find in our Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition NS-55DF710NA21 review and Toshiba C350 Fire TV (2021 model) review.

Let's dig into the details of each and find out which is the better Fire TV bargain.

A note about names: The Insignia model from our Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition NS-55DF710NA21 review was recently renamed the Insignia F30 Series Fire TV Edition, so we've updated the review to reflect that and will use the new name throughout this comparison. 

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Specs

Insignia F30 Series Fire TVToshiba C350 Fire TV
Resolution3840 x 21603840 x 2160
Refresh rate60Hz60Hz
HDR formatsHDR10Dolby Vision, HDR10
HDMI ports3 HDMI (1 ARC)4 HDMI (1 ARC)
Audio10 watts, 2.0 Channel8 watts, 2.0 Channel
Smart TV softwareAmazon Fire TVAmazon Fire TV

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Price and size options

When it comes to affordable TVs, price and size may be the biggest factors in anyone's buying decision. There's no point in looking at the more premium TVs when you have a budget of $500, but you also don't want to wind up looking like Michael Scott with his tiny little TV.

Thankfully, both the Insignia and Toshiba Fire TV edition models offer a good mix of prices and sizes. These are some of the most affordable 4K TVs on the market, and you won't have to settle for a small screen size to get those savings.

Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition NS-55DF710NA21 review

(Image credit: Insignia)

Let's start with the Insignia, which is sold in sizes ranging from a compact 43 inches (about the smallest you'll ever want to go for a 4K screen) up to an impressive 70 inches. The 55-inch model sells for less than $500, and even the biggest 70-incher sells for $619.

  • 43-inch (model NS-43DF710NA21) - $289.99
  • 50-inch (model NS-50DF710NA21) - $389.99
  • 55-inch (model NS-55DF710NA21) - $419.99
  • 65-inch (model NS-65DF710NA21) - $549.99
  • 70-inch (model NS-70DF710NA21) - $619.99

Toshiba C350 Fire TV review

(Image credit: Toshiba)

The Toshiba C350 is also quite affordable, with similarly low prices that make it a mainstay of our best TVs under $500 page. Available in 43, 50 and 55-inch sizes, the most expensive model is just $469 through Best Buy, despite its recommended retail price of $519.

I say "recommended retail price" because I've rarely seen either brand of Fire TV sold for full price. They are always being discounted a little bit, but they make a big splash whenever there's a big sale, such as Black Friday, or Amazon Prime Day, with sale prices dropping to the lowest of the year so that retailers can grab headlines with 4K TVs selling for crazy low prices.

And that's where the Fire TVs really shine. As inexpensive TVs, they're always a decent affordable option. But as loss-leaders, subsidized by retail giants like Amazon and Best Buy (Fire TV is Amazon's smart TV platform, and Insignia is Best Buy's store brand), they can be bought for a song anytime there's a sales event, and that makes them some of the most popular TVs around.

But you'll notice one big difference between the Insignia and Toshiba models listed here: There are more size options for the Insignia than the Toshiba, which tops out at 55 inches. The Insignia also tends to be a little cheaper, at least when looking at normal, non-event sales prices.

What is Amazon Fire TV?

So what exactly is Amazon Fire TV? It's Amazon's answer to streaming platforms like Roku, built around Amazon's Alexa and Amazon-owned services like Prime Video, IMDB TV, Twitch, while also supporting third-party apps, like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and many, many more.

It's the same software used on other Fire TV devices, like those seen in our Amazon Fire TV Stick review or Amazon Fire TV Cube review, two of the best streaming devices you can get. Fire TV Edition smart TVs put this Amazon-powered software into a smart TV instead of a separate streaming device. The result is a pretty decent set of smart TV features, packed into some of the most affordable 4K TVs on the market. 

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Design

Whether it's the Insignia F30 model or the Toshiba C350, both are inexpensive TVs that use basic plastic construction. Affordable TVs aren't known for their sleek stylings or premium materials, and most cheap TVs have the same generic looking black plastic construction.

Toshiba C350 Fire TV review

(Image credit: Toshiba)

However, the Toshiba C350 adds a stylish touch to the otherwise basic design, accenting the basic black chassis  with a strip of silver plastic along the bottom of the panel and silver plastic feet. Boomerang-shaped feet also give the Toshiba a more stylish look that the Insignia, but that may not matter to most shoppers.

Both models work with standard VESA mounting brackets – the Insignia works with a 200 x 200 millimeter mount, and the Toshiba uses a 200 x 300 millimeter pattern – so either will work with the products on our best TV mounts list.

Toshiba C350 Fire TV review

(Image credit: Toshiba)

When it comes to port selection, the Toshiba again has a slight edge, offering 4 HDMI ports to the Insignia's 3 ports. Both TVs offer USB ports, coaxial connections for antenna and cable, and composite video inputs. Both include an HDMI ARC connection for connecting a soundbar, but neither one has the newer HDMI 2.1 connection (or required feature support) you might want to get the most out of a new game console.

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Display

Both the Insignia and Toshiba Fire TV models work under the same basic philosophy: Good enough. It's not an uncommon approach to cheaper TVs, but if you're expecting something impressive just because it bears the Amazon name, you'll be a bit disappointed.

The Insignia suffers from limited color reproduction, producing just 96.68% of the Rec 709 color spectrum, and offering a Delta-E score of 2.7, indicating decent color accuracy. The Toshiba wasn't much better, producing 95.0% of the color spectrum, but surprising us with a 1.7 Delta-E rating, meaning that it has noticeably better accuracy than the Insignia.

In terms of test results, that's sort of a wash. Both are accurate enough that you won't be constantly irritated by bad color, but the limited gamut on both will leave the resulting picture still feeling a bit lackluster.

The Insignia was plagued with motion blurring until we turned off all the video processing that comes enabled by default, and even then, it still had bad viewing angles – moving too far from the center of the screen introduced some unwanted color shifting. The Toshiba also had noticeable issues with limited viewing angles, and inconsistent backlighting.

And without local dimming, some content just looked flat on the basic TVs. The Toshiba C350 boasts support for Dolby Vision (the Insignia does not), but neither Fire TV really offers the sort of contrast or backlight control that are needed for effective HDR performance.

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Gaming

One area where we saw some unexpected performance differences between the two Fire TV brands was in gaming. With 60Hz panels and only nominal HDR support, neither one is going to deliver superb picture quality, but both are ideally priced as an inexpensive 4K gaming TV. (Check out the best 4K gaming TVs for more.)

The Insignia failed to impress us for gaming, with a decidedly slow 36.4 milliseconds of lag time in our lab tests. The Toshiba C350, on the other hand, impressed us with it's low lag time of just 10.7 milliseconds, easily clearing the 20-millisecond cut off that we have for acceptable gaming performance.

If you want an inexpensive 4K TV for enjoying your game console, the Toshiba C350 is actually a great choice, and it's one of the few that won't cost more than a new PS5 or Xbox Series X

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Audio

If there's one area that consistently disappoints on budget-friendly TVs, it's audio. Getting great sound from the narrow confines of a TV chassis is a sophisticated and expensive process, and TV manufacturers generally reserve better audio for more premium TVs. That certainly is the case with the two Fire TVs we're comparing here.

The Toshiba C350 has 7- and 8-watt speakers (7 watts on the 43-inch model and 8 watts on to 50 and 55-inch sets). The Insignia F30 models offer only slightly better, with a similarly weak set of 10-watt speakers.

Instead of multichannel sound, both Fire TVs offer basic two-channel stereo – you can get better audio with one of the best soundbars. And that's actually what we recommend. Both TVs offer good enough picture quality, but the sound is lackluster enough that even an inexpensive soundbar will offer better sound.

Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV: Which one wins?

When you get right down to it, the Toshiba C350 Fire TV may be the better of the two Amazon-powered smart TVs. It has a more stylish design, better port selection, and better performance for both shows and gaming. 

But don't write off the Insignia Fire TVs, either. With lower prices, larger screen size options and fairly similar performance (outside of gaming), Best Buy's store brand is also a great Fire TV.

But the real conclusion here is that you should definitely consider a Fire TV – of either brand – whenever you want to find a decent 4K TV with solid smart features and an affordable price. These budget-friendly smart TVs may not lead the pack in performance or premium features, but they deliver a solid modern TV experience for much less than most of the big names. And when a big sale strikes, and you're unsure of whether to get a discounted Fire TV, you know you'll be pretty satisfied with either model.

Brian Westover
Brian Westover is an Editor at Tom's Guide, covering everything from TVs to the latest PCs. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.