OnePlus TV 50 U1S Review: A definite improvement over the U1 on some fronts

After the ambitious Q1 series of TVs that OnePlus debuted with, the company has mainly focused on the midrange segment in India to ply its trade. The OnePlus TV 55U1 was a good attempt with a neat set of features at a reasonable price; something I believe it should have debuted with instead of the Q1.

The new U1S series adds a few extras, some more screen sizes and looks to iron out some of the flaws in the U1. We got a 50-inch variant for review. Let’s see where it stands with regards to the competition as well as its predecessor.

OnePlus TV 50 U1S - Design and connectivity: 8/10

Just like the U1, this TV sports a near bezel-less design on three sides, but doesn’t have the same 7 mm super-slim upper body. While it is nowhere as slim as the U1, it isn’t too thick either, nor is it as heavy, as the metal frame has been replaced by plastic, it seems. The grey bottom bezel has a trapezoid chin at the centre that hosts a bunch of LEDs and receivers for far-field mics, along with a pair of power LEDs that look cool.

This TV sports a near bezel-less design on three sides, but doesn’t have the U1's 7 mm super-slim upper body. Image: OnePlus

The TV can be wall-mounted (wall mount not bundled) or placed on a desk using the bundled metal stands that feel sturdy and hold it firmly in place. The necessary screws are present in the package. You get a voice enabled remote along with a pair of AAA batteries to power it. The remote is still compact but looks different from the ones you get with the U1 and Q1 series.

In the connectivity department, you have most of the bases covered, barring one. You get three HDMI 2.1 ports, one of which supports eARC, two USB 2.0 ports, Optical audio out, A/V input (the necessary cable is bundled) and a LAN port. An analogue audio output option like a 3.5 mm headphone jack or a coaxial A/V out is missing here. Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.0 and dual band Wi-Fi with support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks.

Ports located closer to the centre of the TV rather than near the edge, making them difficult to access if you choose to wall mount it. Image: OnePlus

All ports are placed along the left edge of the rear module. However, unlike in the case of the U1, the ports are located closer to the centre of the TV rather than near the edge, making them difficult to access if you choose to wall mount it. This was one design element that was spot on in the past, and has been messed up now.

OnePlus TV 50 U1S - Features and specifications: 8/10

As you might have guessed, the OnePlus TV 50 U1S has a 50-inch panel with an Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and a 60 Hz refresh rate. Information about the panel type and its peak brightness hasn’t been provided by OnePlus. HDR format support is limited to HDR10/10+ and HLG; one key absentee here is support for Dolby Vision, which was present in the U1. It supports a wide colour gamut and can display over a billion shades.

This TV is powered by a Mediatek MT9612 SoC, and you get 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of internal storage, a sizable chunk of which is taken up by Android TV 10 OS and the preinstalled apps. You are left with about 7 GB of space for installing more apps. Sound output is rated at 30 Watts RMS with support for Dolby Audio. The speakers aren’t Dolby Atmos-certified, which is fine, but more importantly, the Atmos audio feed is available via HDMI passthrough if you plug in a compatible soundbar or speaker system.

Voice-enabled remote is is still compact but looks different from the ones you get with the U1 and Q1 series. Image: Tech2/Ameya Dalvi

As expected from an Android TV, it has Chromecast built-in and lets you cast content to the TV from compatible apps on your phone or tablet. The wireless remote control bundled with this TV operates over both IR and Bluetooth. After pairing it with the TV, you can summon the Google Assistant by pressing the corresponding button and issue voice commands. If you wish to go completely hands free, the TV also has built-in far-field mics. More on that a little later.

Coming back to the remote, the key layout is fine and most of the necessary buttons are present. The concave shape for the Back button is a nice touch. Some buttons are assigned multiple tasks, and while that reduces the clutter, it also causes undesired actions at times. I would have preferred a dedicated power button. Lack of one is an issue that has been carried forward from its predecessor.

OnePlus TV 50 U1S - User interface: 8.5/10

The OnePlus TV 50 U1S runs Android TV 10 OS with a stock user interface. Not much has changed here except for a newer version of Android. It is easy to get a hang of. You have a row of installed apps, the shortcuts for which can be added, removed or shuffled around. Other rows display last played or suggested content from various OTT services. The UI is pretty much lag-free.

Three HDMI 2.1 ports, one of which supports eARC, two USB 2.0 ports, Optical audio out, A/V input and a LAN port are available. Image: Tech2/Ameya Dalvi

Speaking of OTT services, OnePlus has gone overboard by including almost every other streaming platform on this TV. Like most TVs, apps for Netflix and Prime Video are preinstalled. But on top of that, you have apps for services like Zee5, Disney+ Hotstar, Voot, Lionsgate Play and a few more. That explains why you only have less than half the internal storage free for your needs. The good part is, you can uninstall most of them to free up space.

OxygenPlay is also present, which aggregates content from various streaming services. You need to have an active subscription for the given service to watch the respective content. Unlike PatchWall on Xiaomi TVs that also serves as a UI layer in addition to content aggregation, OxygenPlay does just the latter. A big plus here is the ability to adjust sound and picture settings on the fly while viewing content from any source or app. While there is no dedicated settings button on the remote, the menu button does the trick with a long press. Keeping it pressed for a couple of seconds brings up the quick settings menu from where you can tweak the audio or video.

OnePlus TV 50 U1S - Picture quality: 8/10

The overall picture quality of this TV is impressive, but after making a handful of adjustments from the picture settings. The default picture has a distinct cooler tone with a bluish tinge. So straight away changing the colour temperature to warm gets things closer to natural. The colour reproduction is generally good, but again, the colours look a tad boosted out of the box and need a bit of adjustment. Lastly, it’s best to switch off MEMC (motion compensation) or set it to low to avoid motion artifacts.

Post the tweaks, the picture looks quite impressive on this OnePlus TV. The brightness and contrast are good, and details in dark areas in high contrast scenes in our test videos were clearly visible. There was hardly any flickering in high contrast scenes. The black levels could have been better, though, as they tend to look dark grey rather than black most of the time.

Post a handful of tweaks, the picture looks quite impressive on this OnePlus TV. Image: OnePlus

There are ample picture adjustment settings, right from the usual contrast, brightness, saturation sliders to advanced options like colour temperature, noise reduction, motion settings and more. I would suggest playing around with them, and in case things go out of hand, you can always fall back on the picture pre-sets. The Standard pre-set with warm colour temperature or the Movie pre-set get things 80 percent right effortlessly. There’s also a HDR10+ pre-set, and strangely, this TV doesn’t switch to it automatically when playing HDR10+ videos. Do use it when watching HDR content on Prime Video, but avoid using it in SDR videos.

After all the aforementioned tweaks, HDR content looks sharp and vibrant on this TV with excellent colour reproduction and good contrast. The absence of Dolby Vision is felt in Netflix at most. Shows encoded in that format play in HDR10/10+, and the difference in quality isn’t drastic given that this is a midrange TV. 4K SDR content looks almost as good and with very good detail. 1080p videos are upscaled well too. 720p videos are perfectly watchable, but understandably not as detailed. Anything lower looks washed out as is the case with most 4K TVs. No complaints about the viewing angles, as there’s very little colour shift from sharp angles.

OnePlus TV 50 U1S - Audio quality: 8/10

The biggest improvement as compared to the U1 is experienced in the audio department. A pair of bottom-firing speakers rated at 30 Watts RMS deliver impressive audio. The output is loud, punchy and with noticeable warmth. It is enjoyable across various content types ranging from news or sports to even music and movies. Dynaudio has done a great job with the tuning. The speakers are tuned well out of the box, and there are additional options to tweak it further.

The audio is generally loud enough well under 50 percent volume level, but at times you need to push it beyond 70 percent for certain shows or movies mainly on Disney+ Hotstar. The output may not be as good as that of a dedicated soundbar, but it is good enough and detailed enough to not need external speakers from day one. Speaking of external speakers, you can always plug in an Atmos compliant soundbar or speaker system into the TV’s HDMI eARC port to make use of the Atmos audio feed when available.

OnePlus TV 50 U1S - Overall performance: 8/10

The TV takes about 40 seconds to boot up when you switch it on from the mains, which is average for Android TVs. Post that, the TV comes back on in just a couple of seconds from standby mode. Just like its predecessor, it takes much longer to get it into standby mode. While OnePlus provides a dedicated mute button, it has skimped on a dedicated power button. You need to press the OnePlus button on the remote for a few seconds to get Restart, Sleep or Shut down options. If you release the button early, it starts OxygenPlay causing unnecessary annoyance.

LED lights located on the chin glow to indicate the readiness of the voice assistant. Image: Tech2/Ameya Dalvi

The OnePlus TV 50 U1S has far-field mics that work well most of the time when issuing hands-free voice commands from a good 10 feet away. You can bring up the voice assistant by saying the magic words “OK Google” or “Hey Google” and issue the command. The LED lights located on the chin glow to indicate the readiness of the assistant. If you have privacy concerns about the mics being always on, there is a physical switch to turn them off. Doing that turns on four yellow LEDs that cannot be switched off. Hope OnePlus addresses that in the next software update. Beyond that, things work smoothly and as expected on this TV.

OnePlus TV 50 U1S - Price and verdict

The OnePlus TV 50 U1S is available for purchase for Rs 43,999 with a one-year warranty on the company’s website and other popular e-commerce platforms. The launch price of this TV was Rs 39,999, and I would have been happier had the company stuck to that. Its current price isn’t way over the top, but 50-inch TVs with similar specifications and HDR10+ support can be purchased for under Rs 35,000. In fact, you also get a couple of options that are Dolby Vision-compliant.

The 50 U1S is a good all-round TV with a few modern features such as far-field mics and newer HDMI 2.1 ports, but the competition is stiff. The Hisense 50A71F with Dolby Vision support and even better audio quality can be purchased for Rs 33,999. It does lack the newer HDMI ports and runs a generation-old Android TV 9 platform, but the picture quality is at par, if not better. The other option being Redmi X50 with comparable picture quality, HDMI 2.1 ports, Android TV 10 and Dolby Vision support, again for less than Rs 35,000. So, a price tag of less than Rs 40,000 would be ideal for the OnePlus TV 50 U1S, practically and psychologically.

Post a Comment