Ameya DalviDec 30, 2020 17:02:50 IST
Smart TVs have been great companions this year during the lockdown. For most people, this meant binge-watching stuff on Netflix, Prime Video etc. For yours truly, in addition to that, it was also about testing and reviewing them, as my home was transformed into a TV showroom for months, courtesy of innumerable test units that took refuge there during that period. And then some more arrived once the lockdown was relaxed. However, there were a select few that impressed me more than others with their performance and feature set, and as a result made their way to our list of top 5 budget 4K Smart TVs of 2020 priced under Rs 60,000.
Best budget 4K Smart TVs of 2020
Vu Cinema TV 50CA
The Cinema TV 4K range released by Vu at the start of this year was easily one of the best of 2020. The fact that very few got close to even matching its performance in the subsequent quarters speaks volumes about the quality of the product. We reviewed the 50-inch model from the series and were thoroughly impressed with its picture quality, and even more so with the sound. It was perhaps the first to bring Dolby Vision to budget TVs, and to the sub-30K price range in India then. Its UI tweaks remain refreshingly versatile for Android TV OS.
The panel with Vu’s Pixelium Glass technology is quite bright, resulting in good contrast in HDR content. Full HD and 4K videos look great on this TV, and even 720p content is upscaled reasonably well. What sets it apart from the majority of the competition is its 40W speaker system. There is noticeable warmth in the sound and ample clarity in vocals. The speakers are tuned well out of the box, and sound good for different content types ranging from movies to music to news. With such a fine blend of features and performance, the Vu Cinema TV was bound to be a box office hit in the year theatres were shut for most part.
Price: Rs 29,999 onwards
Hisense debuted in India in the last quarter of this year and made waves straight away with their impressive A71F series. Just like the Vu Cinema TV, the Hisense 55A71F (Review) model that we reviewed was high on picture and sound quality. The stakes were raised even higher with the inclusion of Dolby Atmos audio in addition to Dolby Vision support. I generally don’t take the former seriously on TV speakers, but it does make a difference on this certified Android TV, and you can experience more than a hint of positional audio. Speaking of audio, this is another smart TV with very impressive sound quality.
A pair of bottom-firing speakers rated at 30 Watts RMS deliver some seriously good audio output. The output is loud and clear, with a surprisingly good amount of bass for TV speakers. The picture quality is equally impressive with vibrant colours and contrast across the board. The Hisense 55A71F allows you to adjust sound and picture settings on the fly while viewing content from any source or app at the press of a button, something very few Android TVs let you do. The importance of this, when fine-tuning the video or audio, cannot be stressed enough. For such versatility and performance, this Hisense TV finds itself in our list of best budget TVs this year, soon after launch.
Price: Rs 38,990
Kodak 50CA7077/ Thomson OATH Pro series
Another couple of budget brands improved drastically this year, and released a stellar series each. The Kodak CA series and Thomson OATH Pro series of certified Android TVs are very impressive for the price. Both series are pretty much the same, and manufactured by the same brand licensee – SPPL in India. We got our hands on the Kodak 50CA7077 model (Review) and were mighty impressed with the picture quality of its 10-bit IPS 4K panel. There was a marked improvement in the sound too, compared to its predecessors. There were some UI and minor performance issues in the initial models, but that seems to have been fixed now in the subsequent updates.
UI issues aside, the picture quality of this TV was always excellent, with good contrast, lively colours and wide viewing angles. The Kodak CA and Thomson OATH Pro series support Dolby Vision too, and content encoded in that format looks brilliant for their price class. Lastly, their pricing is extremely affordable, adding to the value quotient of the smart TVs. For a solid all-round performance and for that impressive panel, we offer these TVs a place on this list.
Price: Rs 30,999 to 33,999
Xiaomi Mi TV Q1 (55) QLED TV
Here’s the first and more recent of the two budget QLED TVs in this list. The Xiaomi Mi TV Q1 (55) is more future-ready courtesy of its powerful hardware, latest version of Android TV OS, extra storage and most importantly, connectivity options. It has a lot going for it, starting with a sharp and vibrant picture, support for premium HDR formats like Dolby Vision and HDR10+, much better sound as compared to its predecessors and a pleasant design with a metallic frame.
This is the first Android 10 TV we have got our hands on this year. As I touched upon, it has faster Mediatek processing hardware at its core with a Mali G52 MP2 GPU and 32 GB of internal storage. But the clincher is support for HDMI 2.1 with eARC, ALLM and a claimed 5 ms input lag that makes this TV great to pair with the latest consoles from Microsoft and Sony. This TV creates history by being the first from Xiaomi to provide an option to mute the TV (Oh yes, you read that right!), which helped its case further as a pick on our 2020 budget Smart TV list.
Price: Rs 54,999
iFFALCON (TCL) 55H71 QLED TV
The iFFALCON (TCL) 55H71 (Review) is a well-priced budget QLED TV with good picture and sound and some smart design elements. It was also the first to breach the Rs 50,000 barrier in India at launch for a 55-inch QLED TVs running certified Android, and that’s an achievement. Since it was released much earlier this year, it misses out on a few newer features like HDMI 2.1 and Android 10 out of the box, but its overall performance is on par with that of the Mi QLED TV. This smart TV supports popular HDR formats like Dolby Vision and HDR10+, as well as Dolby Atmos for audio.
The 55H71 also has a handful of cool features up its sleeve like far-field mics for true hands-free voice commands without the need for a remote. The design is quite smart and well thought out with an option to connect the desktop stands near the edges of the TV or at the centre to save space, and place it on a much smaller table. You also get access to sound and picture settings on the fly that the Xiaomi TV lacks, and is a few thousands cheaper too. All things considered, it makes a strong case for itself to book a spot on this list.
Realme Smart TV SLED 55
SLED technology looks quite promising, and this Realme TV proved to be an impressive retail prototype for the display technology with a vibrant, yet soothing picture that puts noticeably less strain on the eyes. The clean Android UI is fast and lag-free, but could have done with a few more audio/video adjustment tweaks to make the TV smarter. Nonetheless, a solid first attempt.