With the advent of the Android ecosystem in TVs, the so-called ‘idiot box’ has been transformed. Smart TVs in a way are pretty much large smartphones/computers now, where users don’t need an external device to access content. Smart TVs are standalone content devices, where one just needs to connect to WiFi and voila! There’s a whole suite of apps that lets you stream directly.

And these are still early days yet and more powerful processors, more memory, and features will lead to a smart TV’s use-case expanding even further. The best part? They are affordable, and this week, we look at one such economical offering from VU, which has been around in the TV space for a while.

The Premium Android TVs from VU were launched recently and their sizes start from 43 inches and go up to 65 inches. We reviewed the 43-inch model, which should suit small-to-medium-sized living rooms and bedrooms. We wall-mounted ours and the size just about complemented the room.

In terms of design, the ‘premium’ moniker fits well, as the TV came with slim silver bezels and looked quite posh. The screen-to-body ratio is great, thanks to the thin bezels and in a dark environment, they aren’t even noticeable. The TV could have been slimmer and juts out a tad bit when wall-mounted.

VU’s TV comes with a 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD 4K panel. It also offers 4K upscaling and HDR10. We streamed 4K content on the web and with good internet speeds, the results were very refined. Colours were rendered with a good amount of saturation and objects were sharp. The contrast was also quite good and the picture quality is better appreciated in dim surroundings. The viewing angles are accommodating, so don’t worry about watching in a variety of upright or horizontal positions.

The 4K upscaling seemed to work when we played low-res content on the TV. It has a screen refresh rate of 60 Hz. The bright LED panel, all-in-all, is good for this price and while it cannot be compared to the likes of the panels we get from Samsung, Sony, or LG at higher price points, it is among the good ones in the budget smart TV segment.

Simple set-up

Setting the TV up was very simple and once you connect it to WiFi and link your Google account to it, everything is cakewalk. There are a bunch of pre-loaded OTT apps on the TV like YouTube, Hotstar, etc, and the remote (more on that in a bit), comes with dedicated buttons for Hotstar and YouTube too. With your Google account, you can access the Android TV Play Store and download apps like Netflix (which was our first order of business). Although we kept getting a message about Netflix not being optimised for the device, it worked just fine.

Anybody familiar with the Android ecosystem can handle the TV, its controls, and settings quite easily, including the Google account settings. The TV works on Android 8.0 Oreo and a lot of apps were compatible with it. Amazon Prime Video is still not around, although according to a Google blog, it should get it sometime.

For those who want to go ‘old school’ and connect their laptops, there are three HDMI ports, which can also be used to connect a set-top box. There are also two USB ports for playing stored media content. But the most convenient input method has got to be the built-in Chromecast feature, which lets you cast (stream) content directly to the TV using your phone, tablet, iPad, laptop, et al. Goodbye to connecting external streaming devices and spending on them.

The TV offers good audio, with two 10W speakers doing the job well. The sound easily filled up the room and was fairly loud, as we ended up watching at half the volume mark most of the time. However, we noticed speech audio staying low while the background sounds/music were loud. The audio faculty packs features such as Dolby Digital Plus, DBX-TV, Total Surround, etc, which enhances the movie-watching experience. There are also different sound modes to choose from, when you access the TVs settings. However, connecting a good quality external soundbar or home theatre system will take the experience to another level. But the TV does just fine without them too, if you aren’t a compulsive audiophile. The TV is Bluetooth enabled so you can connect external audio systems without the hassles of the wiring.

The TV’s remote is very functional and makes it very simple to control playback and volume when streaming on OTT apps. It is an IR remote, but the blasters seemed quite accomplished because it didn’t matter even if we were not pointing the remote at the TV. It also picks up your voice very well and you can use it to voice-search as well as chat with Google Assistant.

The VU Premium Android is an easy-to-use, no-nonsense, very functional, and value-for-money offering. With the current online deals, the 43-inch version is available at just above ₹30,000 on some platforms. And at this price, there’s very little going against it.

Price : ₹30,999 (43 inches) (on some e-commerce portals)

Pros: Value-for-money, good picture quality, good Android OS and functionality, easy to operate

Cons: Could have been made slimmer, speech audio is dull at times