You don’t always need to shell out more for more pixels.
There’s no pretense about the Thomson and its offering here. Once you get past the French origins and the valiant attempt to flag that fact (no, quite literally, there’s a French tricolour imprinted on the packaging), there’s no denying that this is a television made for the well-equipped Indian masses. It’s a 4K UHD TV with enough smart apps to keep you hooked to your TV longer than your phone. Well, almost, but more on that later. Let’s start with the design and build.
Design and Build
Basic as basic can get, the Thomson won’t win any design awards, but it’s also a safe and conventional design that won’t stick out like a sore thumb in any kind of decor. The easy to install table stand is a 2 minute DIY job, and you can be up and running in less time than the GoT intro. The build is at par for the course, and though it won’t set any new benchmarks, for an entry-level 43in television, it passes muster.
The remote lacks in feel though, as the remote buttons take some time getting used to with their squidgy feel. Also, there is a general lack of response from the remote unless pointed straight at the IR sensor.
Apps and Smart TV features
Although this isn’t an officially certified Android TV, there are a wealth of apps, both preloaded and ones you can download from the Play Store or Android store. The Interface is attractive and chugs along at a fair pace, never slowing you down.
The usual suspects like Netflix, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are present and the remote even has a hotkey for getting to the Internet Explorer browser. Some great websites like NY Times, CNN, BBC, Wikipedia, Gmail, and more allow you to sit back and get up to speed on the latest news in 43in UHD glory instead of a crusty newspaper that leaves your digits tired with ink.
This is pretty unique and I haven’t seen this sort of a feature incorporated in any other smart TV to date, so one up to Thomson!
Some quirks do exist though. A lot of the apps on the store require a Bluetooth mouse to download, so while you can see them on-screen, you can’t really get to them unless you get this little accessory. If you’re just fine with the basics, you will be covered so it’s not really a deal breaker.
The Thomson is also endowed with 4GB of onboard storage, which can be used to store all sorts of media, including downloaded PDFs, music, movie and pictures. Around the back, there is a generous assortment of ports, including 2 x USB, 3 x HDMI, ethernet, coaxial digital and even an SD-card slot! If you don’t want to be bothered with wires, there is Wireless Display Support and WiFi to bridge the gap into the future.
Picture and Sound
Using our resident 4K MX Streamer filled to the brim with genuine 4K uncompressed content, we fired up the Planet Earth II series in UHD and made some minor modifications to the Thomson’s settings. Sharpness was turned all the way down, and noise reduction was kept off as these are the only controls that you have access to besides the usual picture settings. The image was sharp and colourful without over-saturation but occasionally there were signs of blooming on colours that were too bright and vibrant. Thompson mentioned the availability of HDR, but we just couldn't spot it in the TV settings. Although, if you feed the TV good quality content it conjures up a picture that is visibly superior to a Full HD panel.
When we were playing around with different frame rates available on the MX Streamer, we saw judder at the 60fps resolution but a more reasonable 24fps handles motion much better and the barren landscape of the Saharan desert where a pack of lionesses try to bring down a giraffe did make for a scintillating sequence.
The 1080p content isn’t that bad either, but you will miss the deep contrast of a higher-end LED model and some signs of the uneven backlighting were evident on scenes that have a lot of white/bright frames. For casual viewing and non-critical movie watching, this Thomson manages to be tolerable, but the same cannot be said for the sound.
The weak speaker sounds anaemic and the built-in Surround Mode only makes the dialogue more unintelligible as it adds phase shifts for a pseudo-surround effect. It would be best to invest in a mini soundbar to partner with this TV or bring out a pair of old multimedia speakers if you have any lying around.
At ₹27,999, this is the cheapest smart TV with UHD 4K in the market right now, and it sure is a bargain for that extra-pixel goodiness. It has great connectivity, a smart interface and a genuinely useable browser mode. Where it stumbles is the app experience and sound quality. It doesn’t yet have Hotstar or Amazon Prime as app partners, and while there are ways to work around that, having them front and centre would’ve made for an even more attractive package.
The remote can use some more feedback and heft too, but overall its sticker price is just too attractive to overshadow it drawbacks.
If you’re looking to buy a large-screen telly and don’t mind a few quirks, this Thomson can get you into the 4K club at a big discount. Don't want to jump right on the 4K bandwagon and you're looking from something smaller than the 42in? Then consider getting the 32in smart TV for ₹13,490. Now is that priced low enough for you?
Thomson's TVs are exclusively selling on Flipkart from April 13 post noon. If you're looking for a TV with smartness and extra pixels, go bag one for your living room right now. Happy binging.