My current tv has crushed blacks, poor shadow detail, vertical banding, and really bad image retention. Even if the Toshiba doesn't perform like the Panasonic, it looks to have about twice the contrast ratio of my current tv, and being a DLED, it has great screen uniformity (backed up by the reviews i've read).
I am not a huge fan of CNET reviews, as I feel they are a bit vague and seem inconsistent throughout. I prefer the reviews that televisioninfo.com does, and they gave the Toshiba a solid review.
"We were impressed with the Toshiba 50L2200U (MSRP $899). This Toshiba produces good colors, has deep blacks, and gets modestly bright. It's also easy on the power consumption, which is a bonus since this TV's menu interface isn't so easy on the eyes. Aside from a few aesthetic details, the 50L2200U didn't give us much to complain about. There is the nagging issue of an unresponsive remote, but that was our biggest complaint with this TV.
For the relatively low price of admission – the 50L2200U can be found for around $200 less than its MSRP online – this Toshiba is a great investment for people who do not want 3D or smart features on their TVs. If using your television as a means to watch cable content and movies is your main criteria when looking for a TV, then consider the Toshiba 50L2200U."
Of course I don't expect this thing to perform like a plasma or high end LCD/LED, but for $498 it seems like a solid tv that's strength is displaying a nice, solid picture. Exactly what I was looking for and I expect it will be a solid improvement from my 6 or 7 year old Insignia LCD.