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Review

Vu 43SU128 4K Android TV Review: Features that count

While the Xiaomi Mi TV 4/4A range come with a lot of promise, Indian television manufacturer Vu isn’t going to take the new competition lightly. The latest product from Vu is the 4K Android TV, which is the company’s latest offering in the high-end TV segment.

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Vu 43SU128 4K Android TV 4 5
BGR Rating :
4/5

Highlights

  • The Vu 4K Android TV range is available in 43-inch, 49-inch and 55-inch size options.

  • The TV is powered by the official version of Android TV.

  • You also get a 10W + 10W sound system with the TV.

Xiaomi may be new to the market, and it’s TVs might be a bit difficult to actually buy right now. But the company’s entry is definitely a worrying sign for the incumbent TV segment leaders in India. Whether it’s premium manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and LG, or affordable Indian brands such as Vu, Micromax and Intex, everyone is concerned about Xiaomi winning market share. And they should be.

This is what makes this latest launch from Vu seem like a very specific response to Xiaomi’s recent launches. With the focus shifting to offering smart connectivity on TVs at the price of traditional non-smart TVs, manufacturers are trying to offer more for less. In Vu’s case, it’s promising a stand-out smart TV experience by leveraging one of the leading smart TV UI developers – Android.

The Vu 4K Android TV is available in three sizes – 43-inch (Rs 36,999), 49-inch (Rs 46,999) and 55-inch (Rs 55,999). No matter what size you buy, the specifications and features of the TV are the same. You get the official Android TV operating system and UI, and a few other key features aimed at enhancing the viewing experience. We’ve had a chance to review the new Vu 43SU128 4K Android TV and see if this Vu can take on the rising force of the TV space that is Xiaomi.

Vu 4K Android TV Design and Specifications

With the same specifications across all three variants of the Vu 4K Android TV, the only factor in your purchase is the screen size you need. All variants feature a 4K IPS LED-LCD panel, and are powered by Android TV. The official version of Android for televisions, Android TV is designed and set up to give you the Android experience, but with the typical control mechanisms of a TV and remote setup. While a lot of TV interfaces (including Xiaomi’s PatchWall UI) are based on Android, most of them only make use of the framework.

Android TV, on the other hand, is designed and developed by Google for TVs and digital media players. Vu isn’t the only manufacturer that uses Android TV; Philips, Sharp and Sony are other notable TV makers that have adopted the platform. I’ve comprehensively used the platform on various Sony TVs in the past, including the current flagship offering, the Sony KD-65A1 OLED TV. It’s well designed, has a good selection of relevant apps, and adopts Google’s services well. Additionally, key streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube work particularly well on the platform.

As a result of being an official Android TV device, the Vu TV also has a Chromecast built into it. This enables better connectivity with Android phones, letting you either directly cast to the TV from compatible Android apps such as YouTube, Netflix and Google Play Movies, or mirror your smartphone screen. During my time with the TV, the in-built Chromecast didn’t always work well; there were occasions where the picture lagged, while on other occasions my smartphone would fail to connect to the TV entirely until the TV was completely powered down and switched back on.

When it comes to design, the Vu 4K Android TV doesn’t have anything special going for it. While the Mi TV 4 claims to be the world’s thinnest LED TV, the Vu TV sports an ordinary design at best. While the top and sides have narrow borders, the bottom is significantly thicker thanks to the front-firing soundbar built into the TV. It features a double-stand design that might be a bit wide for most TV tables, but does also come with the option of wall mounting. Most of the ports face downwards at the back, but a single HDMI and USB port each face towards the left for convenient access. The TV comes with 16GB of internal storage and 2.5GB of RAM to run the OS, along with a quad-core processor.

The Vu TV comes with two remotes – a standard tall option full of buttons, and a smaller Bluetooth-powered one that’s simpler to use and more suited to smart TV operation. However, the second remote doesn’t work out of the box, and needs pairing when first setting up. The pairing didn’t remain even when I hadn’t used to remote for a day, so it turns out to be more trouble than it’s worth, and you’ll find yourself sticking to the reliability of the regular remote.

As has been pushed by Vu for some time now, the remote comes with a dedicated Netflix button, directional controls, home and back buttons for navigation. The second remote, once connected, doesn’t need to be pointed at the TV to work. It’s Bluetooth-powered, and therefore will work as long as it’s near the TV. It’s also voice enabled, letting you choose content on the TV by speaking into its microphone.

Voice control isn’t a new thing for TVs, but it’s a relatively rare proposition in this price range. The Amazon Fire TV Stick touts this as one of its key features, so it might appeal to a lot of people who want this kind of functionality in their TV. Since the Vu is an Android TV-powered device, the voice control settings naturally use Google Assistant, which has been customized for Android TV and can search all apps and content on the Vu TV. It works using the Bluetooth remote, which has a microphone and voice button built into it.

Being geared to retrieve content, it isn’t quite as responsive as Google Assistant on an Android smartphone. For example, when I said ‘hello’ to my Android smartphone, I got help prompts for other voice commands I could use on the phone, while saying the same phrase to the TV got me search results for the track Hello by Adele. Voice response is also a bit slow on the TV; you need to wait a couple of seconds after pressing the voice button before it actually starts listening, and even then gets the commands wrong fairly often. The function is gimmicky, but it might just appeal to some users who don’t want to go searching through the system.

Vu 4K Android TV Performance

With a 4K screen, the Vu 4K Android TV can play pretty much any kind of content currently available widely. While the full effect of 4K is best seen on the 55-inch variant, even the 43-inch variant (which we reviewed) is impressive when it comes to the highest-resolution content. Considering the price, the TV is impressive with 4K, but isn’t quite as capable as competing options from some of the top brands.

With regular 4K and Full-HD content, colors are clean and the picture is sharp, although a few artefacts are visible from time to time. While in some cases it could be blamed on the quality of the print or stream, on rare occasions it was purely due to the TV and its processing system not being able to keep up. Motion isn’t as clean as on top-end TVs from Samsung and Sony, but is definitely good for the price.

With standard definition content and streams, the Vu’s upscaling issues tend to show. The picture has some visible artefacts and noise, as the upscaling processor can’t quite keep up. Additionally, motion suffers as well, as the picture begins to stutter and lag a bit. However, with the price, features and specifications in mind, the Vu 4K Android TV is a strong competitor.

A department where the Vu 4K Android TV offers more than the competition is sound. With a 20W sound system positioned like a sound bar, the TV is arguably louder than other similarly-sized TVs. The front-firing design also helps with the sound feeling louder. However, the sound is a bit too boomy. The tuning isn’t ideal, and often you hear the low-end overpowering the rest of the sonic range. This is particularly detrimental for a TV, which ideally needs a better mid-range response for speech. A bit of sound tuning may help in taking the edge off it though.

Verdict

The Vu 4K Android TV isn’t quite as affordable as the Xiaomi Mi TV 4 and 4A, with there being a considerable price difference between the equivalent models across the ranges. However, Vu does have the distinct advantage of being more easily available with ready stocks; you won’t have trouble buying the new Vu Android TV, unlike the Mi TV 4 which is in stock for just a few seconds every week.

Additionally, the draw of official Android TV at an affordable price tag is a big one for smart TV users. In my opinion, Android TV is the best user interface for TVs and media players, and its availability at under Rs 40,000 makes the Vu 4K Android TV a refreshing option. While you are missing out on HDR, it’s a small sacrifice to make in the larger scheme of things. It’s definitely worth an audition if you’re planning to buy a new TV.

  • Published Date: March 14, 2018 9:26 AM IST