This is why you don’t do HDR on a budget

In the last few months, we’ve seen a number of TV launches. We’ve seen Kodak and Thomson move from AOSP (Android open source platform) to Android TV bandwagon. OnePlus has launched its budget and mid-range TV range. Nokia has grown up with a 65-inch TV and Compaq is jumping from PC to make TV in India. In the midst of all this, we have seen Realme enter the TV space with the launch of Realme TV. The TV is available in two screen formats – 32-inch HD Ready and 43-inch FHD. Today we have a 43-inch Realme FHD TV for review. Is it worth considering?

Realme 43-inch FHD HDR TV space at a glance

Panel size: 43-inch
Panel type: VA
Panel resolution: 1920x1080p – FHD
Panel refresh rate: 60Hz
HDR 10 support: Yes
Dolby Vision Support: No.
Weight (including stand): 6.8 kg
HDMI port: 3
USB port: 2
Bluetooth: Yes, 5.0
Wi-Fi: Yes
Ethernet: Yes
Speaker: 4 drivers with total sound output of 24W
Built-in storage: 8GB
Price: MRP: 21,999

Realme 43-inch TV display and picture quality

Let’s talk about the most important thing about Realme TV’s display panel and image quality. The TV has an FHD resolution with HDR support and that’s fine because we’ve seen other FHD TVs support HDR. HDR and resolution are different, so it’s important to remember that you don’t need 4K resolution to show HDR content on a TV. However, it needs a 10-bit panel that does not have a Realme TV. Realme TV has an 8-bit panel which is not ideal when using HDR content. So if you consider this TV for its HDR capabilities, we say, think again. The TV works well for accessing content from the streaming service or set-top-box to SDR but gives a poor experience for HDR content. Let’s break it down into details for you.

HDR performance

One thing to note is that you can only use HDR content from built-in apps like Netflix because the TV’s HDMI ports do not support HDMI 2.0. They are HDMI 1.4, so if you connect a device like Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, or Fire TV Stick 4K to use content in HDR, the TV will only recognize its SDR source because of the hardware. This is not a bad thing because the performance of the TV is much better than the SDR.

Through the built-in Netflix app, we’ve played HDR content like Modified Carbon and Hour Planet. Modified carbon has a warehouse fight sequence that has some good bright and dark sequences. Everything in HDR looked dull and dark and the content was not enjoyable. Especially when you immediately switch to an external SDR source (in our case, Xbox) and the image looks much better. How good? Well, in HDR, the sequence looks dull, even in the bright parts and in the dark parts there is a detailed loss of dull content. In SDR, the TV is not trying to achieve the same contrast as HDR, so the darker parts of the content are still enjoyable.

Realme TV can play HDR content from built-in apps but less experience.

Another show on HDR with beautiful bright visuals is Hour Planet. Once again at the beginning of season 1 episode 1 when a polar bear is walking on ice, you can notice the quality difference between HDR and SDR. Playing content from external sources like Xbox or Fire TV Stick, has given much better results. Again in HDR, the content looks much more dull than our preference, especially when compared to SDR performance on the same TV.

Sadly, a user cannot turn off HDR from the built-in app. To consume SDR content you need to resort to an external source. You will not be able to bring any image settings when using content from native apps as well. When I asked Realme about this, they said that if the TV had a custom UI they would be able to give users access to the image settings. Because of the Android permission, they can’t do it. Overall, for HDR, TV performance was inadequate.

Realme TV SDR performance

When it comes to SDR content, we’ve played it from Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and more. With SDR, the TV does a good job. Even in a relatively bright room, the TV’s reflection handling was decent, and in a movie like John Wick, for example, one could enjoy some fighting sequence. Even in Prime Video, shows like Young Sheldon, Friends on Netflix, Mission: Impossible and many more were worth watching on SDR from the built-in app. There are no complaints here. Again the lack of ability to tinker with the settings was annoying but if you attach a Fire TV stick to the TV then you should not face this problem. Overall, if you’re considering this TV for everyday set-top-box content, it won’t disappoint you.

Realme TV can playback content to SDR from external source as it contains HDMI 1.4

Realme TV Gaming Performance

Before we get into panel performance, let’s first get out of a curious situation. The TV has game mode settings in two places. One is the picture settings that show slight changes to the picture settings for use in “game mode”. The other one is under advanced video settings and toggling it on and off doesn’t yield any results.

So how does TV work for gaming? Quite decent, considering the price and features on offer, about the same as the Onida 43-inch Fire TV FHD TV (Review). Fortunately the TV is not decoding the signal as an HDR signal so we are playing games on the SDR. A game like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which has beautiful environment and rich colors. During the day, in the game, we saw some fairly rich environment and the gameplay was smooth. While playing Assassins Creed Odyssey, some TVs have a warm bias towards color, but that’s not something we noticed on this TV, which is good.

Realme TV works well for those who want to play games on 1080p SDR.

Even in games like Forza Horizon, whether racing day or night, the game looks good with details and bright picture output. Gears 5 had fun with the gorgeous atmosphere and chainsaw hacking action. Playing games on this TV is fun and if 1080p SDR gaming is what you are looking for, then this TV will meet the expectations at this price. Just remember it has 2 game modes.

Realme TV Audio Performance

In terms of audio, Realme TV has 4 drivers (two full-range drivers and two Twitter) that give you 24W of sound output. Speakers provide good audio for everyday use such as watching news, TV shows and occasionally watching movies. Voices were evident on shows like Young Sheldon or even some movies. Things get a bit random when more noise appears on the screen. So if you have a background score with some gunfights and talking to people (for example, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), the audio sounds a bit rough. The audio is loud and has enough punch to be heard in a small room without reaching 70 percent of the speaker volume.

Realme TVs have a relatively thin bezel.

Realme TV: UI

Stock Android TV Here is the name of the game and you will find it. Once the initial setup is done, the UI butter is smooth. Except for one or two hiccups here and there, I haven’t encountered any problems with the UI for navigating streaming services, switching between HDMI sources, or even changing settings. In addition to the problem of not being able to control picture presets when using built-in services, the UI runs smoothly. Even Google Assistant voice control works fine, so there are no complaints.

Realme TV runs on Android TV UI.

Realme TV remote control

The remote control has a nice design that I’ve seen on a budget TV in the recent past. It has a teardrop design – very thin at the top and slightly thicker at the bottom where you have battery housing. This design gives the remote a good grip. Added to the grip is the matte finish which makes you feel that if you hold the remote lightly it will not slip out of your hand. It has a compact feel that is much better than the Fire TV Stick Remote Control.

Realme TV comes with a sleek, easy to use remote control.

The buttons are simply followed by a directional control with power and mute up tops. It has dedicated hotkeys for Netflix, YouTube and Prime videos which is great. The OTT can be easily accessed by the user’s thumb by adding the ergonomics of the hotkey, the Google Assistant button and the volume control remote control.

Realme TV has 3 HDMI ports and 2 USB ports.

Realme TV: Build and design

Considering the price of the TV, we do not expect that it will give any great shock in terms of construction and design. This is a budget TV and it shows the part with a plastic shell and 2 plastic feet that hold the TV tightly. All connectivity options are on the back of the TV, with some ports on the side and others on the bottom On the side, we have an HDMI port, antenna port, coaxial audio port, AV port, a USB port and headphone port. At the bottom we have two HDMI ports, a LAN port and a USB port.

Realm TV has 2 plastic feet so it can be placed on a table.

Overall the TV is acceptable considering the build and design price aspect. It works. If placed on a tabletop, you can fit a set-top-box under the TV, but don’t expect a gaming console to fit under the TV if placed on a table.

The last row

Inadequate HDR performance from TV is a big problem. Add to that the fact that you can’t control the photo presets of the built-in apps and a large portion of the smart capabilities are starting to feel handy on this TV. To get the most out of this TV you need to use it with an external device like Fire TV Stick or any other streaming box. If watching daily set-top-box content is your priority, then this TV should work quite well. However, for streaming services, you need to resort to an external device. The TV comes with a very ergonomic and easy-to-use remote control.

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