Premium design with carbon fiber back finish
4K QLED panel from Samsung
No Netflix, but Google Play and OxygenPlay available
Large-screen televisions are currently among the biggest trends in India. To cash in on this, quite a few brands have launched their television lineup in the country. Some of these names also include smartphone brands like Xiaomi, Motorola, and now OnePlus. Alongside the OnePlus 7T launch, the smartphone manufacturer forayed into the TV segment in India with two 55-inch 4K Smart TV models – the OnePlus TV Q1 and the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro.
The OnePlus TV Q1 is priced at Rs 69,900, while the high-end model Q1 Pro will cost you Rs 99,900. Both these OnePlus TVs will be made available for experience at all OnePlus Experience Stores. But you’ll be able to purchase it online through Amazon India only, starting September 28. I have been using the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro from last few days, and here’s my full review.
Design and Motorized Soundbar with slide-down mechanism
There is no doubt, that the OnePlus TV looks premium with its narrow bezels, flushed glass display and carbon fiber back finish. But the highlight of Q1 Pro model is its unique sound bar. What’s so unique you ask? It is essentially a motorized soundbar that slides down from the back of the television. So, when you start the TV, the sound bar instantly (takes about 8 seconds) appears from the back side. And when you turn the TV off, it goes back again.
In terms of the sound quality, the output on OnePlus TV Q1 Pro model is truly amazing. It has got a total of eight speakers (4 speakers, 2 subwoofers and 2 tweeters), which collectively produce 50 watts of loud sound output. You don’t need any extra speakers, and that’s one plus point about this television.
I really enjoyed the loud output with good bass on this television. It also supports Dolby Atmos (if at all that specification matters to you). The front firing soundbar can easily fill up a large space like a big living room. In terms of sound clarity, you can tweak around with presets (but there are only three) or can custom configure from the TV sound settings.
4K QLED panel from Samsung
The most important thing in a TV is its display and picture quality. To offer the best possible experience, OnePlus has used 4K QLED panel (60Hz native refresh rate) from Samsung in both the variants. It’s also a VA panel and not an IPS LED. The VA panel is Vertically Aligned LED panel which is a form of LCD essentially. Without getting into the technicalities though, what you should know is that a VA Panel offers better contrast levels than IPS panel. That said, viewing angles are best on an IPS display. Does it really make any difference in the real world? I would say, it does a bit.
In real life use, high-definition (HD) content looks great on this television. Since its a VA Panel, you would notice difference in the quality from the side angles, but that doesn’t really matter much. I was pretty happy with the picture quality for online streamed content, but DTH picture output isn’t at par on this TV, especially when you are not watching the HD channels. One thing to note here is that the panel is reflective (as you can also see in above image), so you might find it annoying at times.
OnePlus offers a lot of picture adjustment options, but not everything works well at present. Strangely, the UI of the TV (and of the installed apps) remain unaffected despite tweaking the picture settings. So every time you are surfing through the TV interface or you start something like a YouTube app, the big bright eye-popping red logo will hit you in the face. It is possible that OnePlus might fix it with a software update. I feel this is one important area, where the OnePlus could have done much better.
The tiny Bluetooth remote with USB Type-C charging
OnePlus hasn’t provided a conventional remote with its Smart TV. Instead you get a smart remote, which has only eight keys. It can also be charged with a USB Type-C charger, which negates the need to buy batteries.
What I missed on the remote though is a mute button and a simple on/off button. In order to start the TV, you can single press the OnePlus logo button, and to turn off the TV you need to long press the same button and it’ll offer you three options – Restart, Sleep (with automatic 15-second timer), and Power Off. The volume keys are on the side (right edge) like a smartphone, but there is no direct mute key.
Android TV experience you might not like
Android is definitely a great operating system in the smartphone space, but it is still evolving for televisions. At present, the Android TV experience isn’t good in comparison to the smart software experience you get in most televisions through their custom interface. Something you must have seen from the legit TV makers like Samsung, LG and Sony.
Coming the OnePlus TV, the software experience you get in this television is very similar to most other TVs in the Indian market. What OnePlus has managed to do however is offer many custom settings. The interface is also a lot faster, thanks to the 1.5GHz MediaTek MT5670 processor and 2.5GB of RAM. For apps, there is 16GB native storage available as well.
The problem of Android TV OS is its flawed basics, and long boot up time. So when you start the television, it takes about 33-34 seconds to start, and every single time it opens up with the Android TV UI and not the last selected input source. So in case you want to watch any TV channel, you need to wait for a good one minute at least.
No Netflix, but will come
It’s a little disappointing that OnePlus couldn’t bring Netflix onboard for the television, especially when they say that the project work started two years ago. But the company promises that Netflix will come by December-end. And I hope it comes. Xiaomi also had made claims and promises for the Netflix when they launched their first Mi TV 4 in India, but then it took them forever to get the Netflix.
OxygenPlay and the OnePlus Connect app
Apart from standard Android TV interface, the television also has OxygenPlay add on. It aggregates content from different apps at one place, something similar to Xiaomi’s PatchWall UI. At present, OnePlus has three partners for the OxygenPlay, and these include ZEE5, Hungama Play and Eros Now.
Coming to the OnePlus Connect app, it can be downloaded from the Google Play. It is a great app and works smoothly if you have fast internet connection. You’ll get to use your phone as a remote. It lets you switch between apps and Live TV very fast, and the response is almost instant. I initially had issue pairing OnePlus TV to this app, but later it worked fine after the successful connection. What this app misses badly is the integration of DTH remotes. It’s a pretty useful thing, which OnePlus could have achieved easily or maybe they can still do it via an update. But for now, it is missing.
Should you buy the OnePlus TV?
The OnePlus TV is good. But things don’t look so rosy when you consider the Rs 99,900 price tag. It’s a niche product that would only appeal to those with big pockets. The other model Q1 is placed slightly better in the market at Rs 69,900, but since I have only used the Q1 Pro, I cannot comment on that.
In my opinion, the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro is a perfect smart TV for online content consumption. It offers decent picture output with great sound quality, but misses the basics of a standard television. I found some aspects of the TV too technical. I had expected better software from OnePlus, considering they have one of the best custom OxygenOS in smartphones right now. That said, OnePlus has still managed to offer an extremely fast user interface, and it is way better than other low-cost Smart TVs in the market. But I can’t say the same thing about its starting time (takes 34 seconds), which is a bummer.
Some may face issues with the remote control’s minimalist design. I feel OnePlus could have done well to include a standard remote control as well, with all the basic functional buttons.
Overall, the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro is only for those consumers who are looking to purchase a Sony, Samsung or a premium LG TV above Rs 1,00,000 price point. It gets you decent picture quality and great sound output at a lower price. I am sure, OnePlus will definitely improve on Android TV OS experience with Google. You can’t do anything about the supplied remote, you’ll have to teach your kids and elderly family members about it. Otherwise, the OnePlus Connect app can be used for a better experience.