Thomson 40-inch UHD Smart TV review: An affordable 4K TV for everyone

deccan chronicle  | Francis D'Sa

Technology, Gadgets

Thomson has managed to keep this TV price super affordable — Rs 20,999.

Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV sports a 40-inch Zero Brt Dot HDR 10 panel that is manufactured by Samsung. The panel features a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels with a dynamic contrast ratio of 400000:1 and a viewing angle of 178 degrees both horizontally and vertically.
Rating: 4/5

When televisions made the move from CRT to LCD, the push was expensive and flat-screen TVs were not affordable. And with time, they started getting cheaper and more affordable. And now, we have seen the CRT TVs almost gone from every home. However, larger panels were still not as affordable, and so were the full HD counterparts. Slowly, the LCD manufacturing got cheaper, and even faster, and today, we see even UHD TVs getting affordable, which has almost pushed the Full HD TV out of the market.

DTH will also soon be obsolete — thanks to cheaper broadband internet. And with cheaper connections, streaming full HD and UHD content is the next move for everyone. When large screen smart TVs from unknown brands were launched in the market, no one paid heed. But today, the market is flooded with televisions above the standard 32-inch size. We are presently witnessing a standard television size between 39 inches and 55 inches, which is seeing a huge market share in the television industry.

Thomson, a well-known TV name/brand from the past, took a re-entry into the TV industry and is now shaking up the industry all over again. Giving a steep competition to the rivals, Thomson recently launched the 40-inch UHD smart TV in India and is the only TV today that sports a 40-inch UHD panel, which is a very sweet size for almost every home or room. Not too large, not too small, the 40-inch can be considered as the best size for average homes.

And with the new size, Thomson has also managed to keep it super affordable — Rs 20,999. We took a look at the TV, and after using it for a while, we were impressed. However, there are a few downsides of the TV, but we would completely overlook the same, simply because of the price. Check out our experience with the Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV.

For starters, the Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV looks as simple and plain as an average television that you see out there. Since the panel is what is important, the TV design does not matter, and so does the colour.

Plain black with a glossy bezel, the Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV sports a 40-inch Zero Brt Dot HDR 10 panel that is manufactured by Samsung. The panel features a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels with a dynamic contrast ratio of 400000:1 and a viewing angle of 178 degrees both horizontally and vertically. Lighting up the panel is a dual-core (A73) processer chipset that is supported with a MALI -450 GPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage. Powered by Android 7.0, the Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV also connects to the internet using Wi-Fi and Ethernet options apart from two standard USB 2.0 ports for media and input devices. Lastly, the TV has three HDMI ports that are HDCP 2.0 compatible. As for the analog connectivity, the standard RF, AV and composite are available for your DTH STN requirements. You also get co-axial and headphone audio out ports for your Soundbar/personal use, accordingly.

The TV has a usual slim design and thin bezels around the sides. Also, the TV is very light and can be handled by a single person, alone, even for installation on a table or for wall mounts. The rear panel is all plastic, rugged, and sports a VESA mounting option with a bundled wall mounting bracket. An IR remote controller is supplied and one can optionally opt for a wireless air mouse for an extra price, or use any standard BT/wireless accessory for your convenience. The TV also has a built-in app that allows you to control the TV completely using an Android/iOS device, provided the two are on the same network.  The TV also has a control panel, located on the right side towards the bottom. The control panel is a set of 7 buttons (power, volume, channel, source) and is very conveniently placed.

We found that the bottom of the TV is actually a badly chosen place for the IR sensor, and the sensor module is also badly designed. Shining a bright RED LED when in standby mode, this module protrudes from the bottom (right side) that will probably drive you nuts in a dark room if left on standby.

Fortunately, the LED does not glow when the TV is in operation but does flicker indicating the remote control operation. The sensor module is also transparent with an ugly-looking PCB within — wonder why Thomson’s designers did not find a place inside the panel for this module. Nevertheless, the issue is not as big as it sounds and you will soon ignore this small “error” in a few days.

As for the performance of the television, there are two parts here — the audio-video reproduction and the user interface. The audio-video reproduction performance gets a huge thumbs-up from our side. Not that it is the best in the industry, but considering the price offered, this one can surely impress. Colours are vibrant, sharp, crisp and clear, with brightness and contrast levels just enough for a good experience.

Originally, when left on standard colour mode, we started checking out the other preset options such as dynamic, soft, vivid and user, but finally pronounced that the standard preset is the best out there. You can head to the user preset and design your own taste of colour/brightness combination that suits your taste. Also thanks to the HDR 10 support, UHD visuals are stunningly good and we would definitely advise opting for the Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV is you want good visuals on a tight budget. 

Since the panel is a 30fps panel, you will find fast motion and panning clips a little too disturbing. Not many television panels can handle fast moving/panning frames, and same is the case here too. However, you won’t find it an issue, unless otherwise. For the price of the TV here, is definitely an acceptable area, and not a concern.   

As for the audio, we were impressed here too. Sporting two 10W downward-firing speakers, the stereo performance is also good. It can really get loud, unlike other televisions in the category where a Soundbar would probably be a requirement. The audio is pretty loud and distortion-free. However, past the 60-per cent mark, you will find a slight distortion setting in. Bass is present, but not very prominent and if you want more bass, you will have to opt for an external source. Trebles and mids are spot-on and pretty clear. Options for sound presets such as standard, music, theatre and news are available, but we would advise you to tune the speaker output for bass and highs using the user preset.

However, we did find one ‘probable’ flaw in the user interface. When using the TV in smart mode (i.e. the Android interface with its apps, etc), you cannot use the picture or audio presets at all. There is absolutely no option to tweak the brightness, contract, bass or treble when using apps or alike. You can only manage the said settings in the TV (RF), AV in or HDMI modes. This is a big issue because if you are (for example) streaming an audio or video from YouTube, Netflix, or any OTT app, you will not be able to tweak the display or audio areas according to your choice and you will have to switch to the AV/HDMI modes to set them. Impossible feat if you are watching a Netflix or Prime video and you need to increase the bass or trebles, etc. Thomson should definitely look into this matter as it is a tedious process to have your own settings for display and audio.

The user interface is something that is commendable. It’s plain, simple, yet feature-rich and everything you need is available in a single screen. You can see your apps on the home page itself and easily switch from sources to type with the remote itself. Since it runs on Android, you can download and install apps from the play store directly too. Preloaded apps such as Netflix, YouTube and Hotstar are already installed and you can go ahead to download Amazon Prime Video and many more from a third-party app store called ‘App Store.’ You can also side-load APK files from a USB pen drive or via the network. While YouTube can play 4K videos too, we did notice that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are not compatible with 4K and usually restricts the videos to 720p. If you want to watch Netflix and Prime Video in 4K, you would have to opt for an external media streaming device such as Amazon Fire Stick. Nevertheless, this TV is one of the few televisions out there that allows you to have Netflix and Prime Video apps on the TV directly.

Speaking of the two apps, they don’t work as efficiently. Apart from restricting the videos to 720p, we also noticed that the apps behave erratically. At times they freeze too. This is a known compatibility issue as both the OTT services require specific hardware to run, we could soon see an official app being released later, which could solve these issues. Presently they look like modified apps that are tweaked for televisions using tablet apps. Other OTT streaming apps play as designed and you would not have issues there.

The remote controller is not something that you would appreciate. It is a simple IR-based remote controller that also features mouse mode where a mouse pointer can be seen on screen and controlled using the arrow buttons. In our view, this is the most painful method to operate the UI and the company should have thrown in an air mouse for free, which would increase the value for the TV purchased by the customer. Users can opt for a mouse/keyboard combo or buy a wireless air mouse for easy UI navigation and use.

The remote here is a plain remote and has a simplistic design with rubber buttons. But using the UI with this remote is pretty painful, especially when it comes to entering text using the onscreen keyboard. Additionally, since this is an IR remote, you have to ensure that you are pointing the remote at the TV at all times. A Bluetooth remote would have been ideal here, but unfortunately, it is not a BT remote. Thomson has preloaded an app called EShareServer, which runs in the background by default. You can download the same app on your phone and the app has the required controls for making your life easier. You can your smartphone as a simple remote or a mouse or pull up the keyboard on your phone to type characters with ease.

Other apps that are useful are also pre-installed. TV Assistant allows you to clean up junk files, cache, and a lot more that can help you manage your TV performance, similar to a cleanup app on your smartphone. You can install/uninstall apps, do network tests, and assign apps to start automatically using the TV Assistant. A file browser is also installed for easily opening media files using from your external USB storage. eShare clubbed with a smartphone app, also allows you to stream your photos and videos from your smartphone. Miracast is also available for streaming from your network devices.

The setting option is also simple and easy to help you set up your television areas. Sadly, we did not find any OTA options for firmware updates, which would restrict you to avail future updates from the company. Probably, if the company releases firmware updates, you would have to manually download them from a PC, transfer to a USB pen drive and then update the TV from there, but it does not look like there are any settings to do that either. We have asked the company to respond to this concern, but they are yet to get back to us on that front. Nevertheless, as for now, we don’t seem to have any issues with the TV, its performance and operation. However, we are presently stuck with Android 7.0 on this TV and wonder if it will be updated ahead to Android 8 or 9 in time.

Taking into consideration the price and the performance, the Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV is definitely a good value for money. Areas of problems such as audio/video tweaking, firmware updates, etc, can be ignored, and definitely does not overshadow the TV on the whole. The company needs to address such issues so that customer satisfaction is maintained and prioritized. Nevertheless, if you are seeking a large screen 4K UHS Smart television on a really tight budget, the Thomson 40-inch UHD 4K Smart TV for a mere Rs 20,999 is definitely a steal.