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The need for accurate positioning has gained significant interest recently, especially in cluttered environments where signals from satellite navigation systems are not reliable. Positioning systems based on ultrawide bandwidth (UWB) technology have been considered for these environments because UWB signals are able to resolve multipath and penetrate obstacles. These systems usually obtain range measurements from time-of-arrival (TOA) estimation of the first path, which can be a challenge in dense multipath environments. In this paper, we analyze and compare the performance of matched filter (MF) and energy detector (ED) TOA estimators based on thresholding in UWB dense multipath channels. The main advantage of threshold-based estimators is that they have the potential for complete analog implementation and hence they are particularly attractive for applications that require low cost battery-powered devices. Closed-form expressions for the estimator bias and mean square error (MSE) are derived as a function of the signal- to-noise ratio. A comparison with results obtained from Monte Carlo simulation confirms the validity of our analytical approach. This analysis enables us to determine the threshold value that minimizes the MSE, a critical parameter for optimal estimator design. A simple criteria to determine the threshold value is also presented. It is shown that the estimation accuracy is mainly affected by the ambiguity in the selection of the correct peak at the output of the MF or ED, caused by the fading characteristics of the first path. We also evaluate the performance loss of ED estimators with respect to MF estimators. Finally, results based on experimental measurements in an indoor residential environment are presented in order to compare the performance of TOA estimators in realistic environments.