The U1S is an extension to the previous generation of the OnePlus U1 Series telly and it aims to build atop this mid-range series whilst squeezing in more features and robust connections for a smarter experience.
Similar to OnePlus T smartphones, the S badge on the U1 Series signifies a bunch of fresh updates to the existing value. And this time there are three sizes to go around for everyone’s pocket strength and viewing pleasure.
We got the biggest of the lot. This 65in behemoth costs ₹62,999 and for the same price and size, you may not be able to haggle a Sony or an LG. So does it tick the so-called budget badge of approval? Maybe. Although, the 55in comes at a tempting ₹47,999 and the only compromise you make is the screen real estate and two speaker units. The 65in comes with a four-unit speaker system with 30W output whereas the 50in and 55in, both have two unit speakers with 30W output. Is it any good? Well, OnePlus has certainly tried to address the audio quality by bringing the Dynaudio folks to tune the thing. Now it sounds a wee bit more exciting than before but don't get your hopes too high. It still lacks body and separation. Make sure to tone your expectations and keep a soundbar handy, especially if you wish to enjoy Tenet on this giant pixel canvas. The speakers pick up a little bit of excitement from the opening scene in Tenet but make a murky mess of the dialogues. These lack clarity and are often difficult to enjoy. You will have to venture into Sound settings and move the Dialogue Enhancer setting to Medium or High. It does fix the muddy vocals but everything else still needs polish. Especially the bass. The thumping bass in explosive fight scenes from BumbleBee can only be enjoyed on a soundbar or a higher grade surround system.
You can plonk a soundbar into the first HDMI with eARC and kick the soundbar remote out of the equation. It even works with the PS5’s Media interface. You can control Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube on your PlayStation 5 using the OnePlus’ remote. It’s also got HDMI 2.1 but the panel is only 60Hz. Alas, you’ll have to pony up the extra dough and go knocking on some other door for a 4K at 120Hz telly. There’s no variable refresh rate as well. So no matter which shiny new console you hook it up to, you’ll be stuck to 4K at 60Hz. However, we didn’t experience screen tearing or input delays. It’s got a 15ms response time which is fine for couch gaming. The MEMC tech also works well for gaming and sports, making the whole thing look smoother. So far the soap opera effect on any of the shows and movies is not very aggressive. It’s visibly present and you can change motion smoothing from the settings.
OnePlus says the AI Picture Quality optimally adjusts the gamma curve to ensure that the details of darker visuals are clearer and more visible. In our use, when Global Dimming was set to High, we could see the AI make an effort to change the gamma and contrast as the scenes switch from dark to light in Tenet. It’s not as subtle as it should be and might pull you away from the content you’re watching to pay attention to the AI’s slipup. It’s better to stick to the standard preset in the picture settings and let the content do its thing. Nature documentaries like Dancing with the Birds is absolutely gorgeous on this telly. The fantastic shades of black on the Black Sicklebill bird is well adjusted in HDR. It’s also better to keep the Global Dimming off or on low.
It doesn’t have Dolby Vision and Dolby Audio but that’s fine because it does support HDR10+, HDR10 and HLG. The colour accuracy is also quite good. It’s not perfect but it’s passable as far as budget tellies are concerned. It’s a telly fit for the latest 4K and HDR content on Netflix and other streaming services. Obviously, the higher you go in terms of format and resolution with the show/movie, the better it gets. If you’re stuck and unable to change the picture presets, just reset the picture settings and you should be good to go. We had some hiccups with changing picture presets on this telly and resetting it helped. Upscaled HD content like Friends and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is also great but you might have to tinker with the noise reduction and MEMC (motion smoothing) settings in the menu to avoid the soap opera effect. We had to reduce the aggressive sharpening, switch the colour temperature to normal (it’s on warm by default), turn off adaptive contrast, smooth gradation and ultra-smooth motion settings. Digital noise reduction can be kept on auto if you’re watching some old shows or movies.
The system UI also needs a bit of spit polish because it tends to lag every now and then. OnePlus sent out an initial system update and that made things a bit smoother but we still feel there’s still some room for improvement.
Ok, so it needs a bit of polishing in the software department but where it really shines is with the number of smart features that really change the way you interact with a telly. Starting off, the remote itself is just a standard smart tv remote you get these days. It’s slightly better with rounded edges and has a mute button! It also has NFC for pairing devices to the telly. Although, if you ditch the said remote, the TV can also be controlled using your voice (the TV has microphones for hands-free control for Google AI), OnePlus Connect App and OnePlus smartwatch. You can adjust the volume using the OnePlus Watch and even turn it on or off, AND if you fall asleep, the watch will ping the telly after 30mins to switch off. Pretty neat!
The OnePlus Connect App can replicate the entire remote in your smartphone. It’s even available for iOS devices. Everything works the way it should but the execution needs to be a bit consistent. There are times when the connection with the phone is choppy. So don’t lose that remote. Albeit, it’s still a great effort from OnePlus and we’re glad to have more smart features than before. Just like Apple’s ecosystem, OnePlus’ ecosystem only gets better if you add more devices from the family. The telly will detect OnePlus Buds or Buds Z and let you connect to them instantly. The Smart Volume Control feature reduces the volume of the telly when there’s an incoming call and turns it back to the previous volume when the call is done. You can also use your smartphone to type in search fields instead of aggressively navigating to each letter using the remote! As small as these features are, they’re life-changing in their way. You can do without them but life’s better with them. It took some time to build but the walled garden approach from OnePlus is working.
As if that wasn’t enough, you can now attach the OnePlus TV Camera (₹2,499) and video call your loved ones on the Google Duo app. There are two microphones on the camera itself and they’re surprisingly good and thorough at picking up your voice during a video call. The only drawback is that the other person can hear themselves from the telly’s speakers. So keep a pair of Bluetooth headphones at arms reach. It’s a 1080p 24fps camera with a magnetic stand that helps the camera stick on top of the telly or stand under it. It also comes with a privacy slider.
Speaking of privacy, there’s a button under the centre of the telly to keep the Google AI from listening to your gossips or questionable howling at night. Although, if you keep it unmuted, you can summon the AI butler with just your voice. Pretty standard but it’s still not good enough for Android TV. The AI can only jump into four streaming services and play content. With its limited grey matter, you cannot ask the AI to change brightness or any picture settings on the fly. Bixby proved to be more useful on the 32in Samsung M7 monitor. Although, switching HDMI connections and pausing Netflix with just your voice is sort of liberating.
There are more exclusive features like OxygenPlay 2.0, Kids mode and OnePlus TV Share Album. You can dump all the photos and videos (Up to 5GB) on this shared album from your OnePlus smartphone and quickly open it on the telly. Great way to bring back the memories from your holidays before the pandemic. OxygenPlay 2.0 curates a bunch of content recommendations for you to watch across the many streaming platforms, and will even let you set reminders for sporting events now.
It’s a smart TV alright. The OnePlus U1S is everything smart and more. The bevy of smart connections with other OnePlus devices and meaningful ways to navigate the Android TV UI using other devices is a boon like no other. If you have a soundbar and OnePlus devices then it’s a good start to consider for the U1S.
Picture quality is not the best out of the box but it can be fixed with a few adjustments from the settings menu. It doesn’t have the punchiest colours but thankfully it’s also not typically saturated like the competition. The blacks also still pale in comparison to OLEDs but as far as mid-range LED televisions are concerned, the U1S is packing some serious value for money.