We are often asked for television recommendations, and it's getting harder to justify why someone should spend big bucks on a major brand in India. There was a time when the best features and performance were strictly the domain of premium TVs, but the budget segment has since defied such expectations. Today, many brands offer affordable televisions with big 4K screens, smart connectivity, and support for HDR. Indian brand Vu has gone a step further with the Cinema TV.
Priced from Rs. 26,999 onwards, the Vu Cinema TV range is, to the best of our knowledge, the most affordable TV range with support for Dolby Vision HDR today. There's a lot more to these products as well, with 40W sound output, the latest version of Android TV, and apps for all the popular streaming services in India. On paper, all of this sounds great, but is it too good to be true? Find out in our review of the Vu 4K Cinema LED Android TV.
First off, the Vu 4K Cinema TV is available in three sizes - 43-inch, 50-inch, and 55-inch - with all of them having 4K resolution LED-backlit screens. We had the 50-inch 50CA variant for review, which is priced at Rs. 29,999. The 43-inch and 55-inch options are priced at Rs. 26,999 and Rs. 33,999 respectively. Your choice of which one to go for should depend entirely on the size of your room and the amount of space you have for the TV - all three have exactly the same specifications, with the obvious exception of screen size.
Regardless of what screen size you pick, the design is standard across all variants. There are thin borders on three sides of the screen, while the bottom is significantly thicker to make room for the four front-firing speakers. Just below that is a module that houses the IR receiver for the remote and the power light. The left side of the speaker grille has a Vu logo, while the right has a Dolby Audio logo.
We quite liked the gold accents and black-gold colour combination of the body, which give this TV a unique look that will appeal to a lot of people in India. The included stands for table-mounting the TV are gold as well, although we didn't use them as we had the television wall-mounted during our review. If you do table-mount the TV, you'll need a wide table since the stands are near the edges of the TV.
The Vu Cinema TV isn't too thick, but it isn't a slim television either. The back is plain black plastic, and all ports and sockets face to the left. There are three HDMI ports; two USB ports; an Ethernet port for wired Internet connectivity; an antenna port; a TOSLINK port for digital audio output; a 3.5mm audio out socket; and a single AV input which requires the use of an included 3-to-1 adapter for connectivity to older standard-definition source devices.
The television has a 4K (3840x2160 pixels) LED screen with a refresh rate of 60Hz. You get 40W of sound output through a four-speaker setup comprised of two main 15W drivers and two 5W tweeters. Dolby Audio and Dolby Vision HDR are supported on the TV, and brightness is rated at 500 nits. Additionally, HDMI ARC and Bluetooth 5 are supported. The TV has 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage for apps, and an unnamed quad-core processor. The 50-inch variant we had for review weighs 9.6kg without the stands, which is quite light for a TV of its size.
The Vu Cinema TV has some basic features that are common to all Android TV devices, such as built-in Chromecast functionality and Google Assistant. The former lets users screen cast from mobile phones or tablets directly to the TV, while the latter lets you control the TV and select content using voice commands. The microphone for Google Assistant is on the remote, although you can link the TV to a Google Home device and use it for voice commands as well; this method worked for us as expected. You also get HDMI-CEC compatibility on the Vu Cinema TV.
The remote that comes with the Vu Cinema TV looks interesting. It matches the black-gold colour theme of the TV. It isn't among the best remotes we've used when it comes to build quality and feel, but it certainly got the job done without any trouble. It uses Bluetooth as well as IR, and has controls for everything we could possibly need, such as Android TV navigation keys, a D-Pad, a number pad, a Google Assistant button, playback controls, and buttons for settings and information.
The Vu Cinema TV's remote has hotkeys for Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and Google Play Movies. We often found ourselves using them, even though getting into these apps isn't too hard from the Android TV interface itself.
The remote runs on two AAA batteries, which are included in the box. Everything worked as expected, including voice recognition and the ability to use the remote without it being pointed at the TV (after it's been turned on, of course). While other manufacturers are going for minimalism with their remotes, we do appreciate Vu sticking to a more traditional one. It may not look as sleek as some others, but it's a lot easier to use and quicker to get things done on the TV.
The term ‘smart TV' is a broad one, and typically refers to any TV that can connect to the Internet to access content. Among the better software implementations we've used on smart TVs is Android TV, an operating system and interface developed by Google. The Vu Cinema TV range runs on the latest version of Android TV - version 9 - with the stock Android TV launcher and access to all popular apps and services on the platform.
Some apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube come pre-installed on the television, and support 4K, Dolby Vision, and HDR streaming where applicable, assuming your subscription plans and Internet connection support high-resolution streaming. Other apps can be downloaded through the Google Play Store for Android TV.
Android TV's app catalogue is growing quickly, and you can find official, well-designed apps for most of the popular streaming services available in India, including Hotstar and Zee5. There's also a huge list of games, and short video providers such as Red Bull TV and Facebook Watch. All the apps that we tried on the Vu Cinema TV worked well, and were easy to navigate with the remote.
While all the settings for the TV can be accessed through the Android TV home screen, picture and sound settings can be adjusted even while playing specific content through an app or when using an external source device, something we greatly appreciated. As we've seen on other TVs with Dolby Vision, the Vu Cinema TV did lock some picture settings when Dolby Vision was active, since this mode sets its own picture settings.
Another useful feature is the ‘quick wake' mode, in which the TV will only go into standby when the power button on the remote is pressed. This means that restarting the TV is near-instantaneous in most cases. Otherwise, it takes around a minute or so to boot up the TV if it is switched off.
The software experience of the Vu Cinema TV was excellent for us, with responsive controls, no lag or stutter, and no performance issues during our review period. Furthermore, the lack of an additional launcher UI above the stock Android TV interface made for a clutter-free, easy usage experience, and one that won't need you to rely on external streaming devices for access to good online content.
Affordable televisions these days are, at least on paper, becoming good enough to be considered on par with premium options, but many of them fall short when it comes to performance. That said, the Vu 4K Cinema LED Android TV punches above its weight, offering picture quality that we haven't seen before at this price point.
It certainly isn't at the same level as options that cost twice as much, but it does exceed the performance of any other sub-Rs. 30,000 television we've used to date. Some key parameters where it did particularly well are colours, sharpness, and brightness.
For our testing, we started out with the best possible content we could play on the TV - 4K Dolby Vision. Starting with the Adam Sandler starrer Uncut Gems on Netflix, we were impressed with the brightness and colour accuracy of the Vu Cinema TV. Daytime scenes in the jewellery district of mid-town Manhattan were bright, and captured the essence of New York's concrete jungle effectively. Skin tones and brightness were also on point, with the TV effectively differentiating between bright and dark zones in the same frame.
Daytime colours and bright scenes were once again excellent when we watched Night On Earth, a new nature documentary miniseries on Netflix. However, this show is focused on what goes on at night, and this is where the TV's first major drawback surfaced - black levels. The Vu Cinema TV struggled to produce deep blacks, and night scenes with a lot of black zones looked more like dark grey. This also means that contrast is affected a bit, but at least with this content, Dolby Vision's 12-bit HDR encoding did make up for that to an extent.
The first episode of season 2 of Narcos: Mexico looked great on the TV, but we did notice some issues with motion when watching the show. Fast motion didn't render like it was supposed to, even with all motion processing settings switched off, and this led to jitter and some artefacts on screen. Gentle motion wasn't a problem at all, and we quite liked how the Vu Cinema TV performed with set-based shows such as The Office, and most of the videos we watched on YouTube.
We then watched an episode from the second season of Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime Video, to test performance with 10-bit HDR. It wasn't quite as bright and colour-accurate as Dolby Vision content, with colours that seemed just a bit exaggerated, but performance was still excellent. The 4K content made for a sharp, detailed picture that was great to watch even from up close.
This television has a rated brightness of 500 nits, and it was indeed significantly brighter than other TVs we've reviewed in this price range. This was particularly useful when watching TV during the day, with the windows open, and made for a vibrant and enjoyable experience when used for Dolby Vision content. The Vu Cinema TV didn't get quite as bright or detailed as high-end TVs, but definitely exceeded our expectations considering its price.
Lower-resolution content, while naturally not as impressive to watch as 4K HDR content, was satisfactory nonetheless. Some fuzziness was visible in full-HD video, particularly in the darker scenes of season 2 of The Purge on Amazon Prime Video. Issues with motion were less noticeable at full-HD, but definitely present.
Black levels were considerably poorer with full-HD and standard-definition video than with Dolby Vision and HDR content. However, that aside, colours were decent enough, sharpness was as we'd expect, and the viewing experience was acceptable. Some standard-definition video that we streamed through Hotstar and the NDTV app for Android TV did show some artefacts due to the quality of the streams, and we found that SD content on YouTube was a bit cleaner to watch.
The Vu Cinema TV exceeded our expectations not only when it comes to the screen, but also the sound. With 40W of output through four front-firing speaker drivers, the TV delivers impressive audio and can get very loud. The speakers produce a soundbar-like wide sound, with good tuning that makes for clear voices, and crisp soundtracks and effects. The lack of dedicated woofers does mean that the sound lacks in thump, but this is made up for by a good soundstage and sense of direction. Watching content with Dolby Audio sound was a bit better, giving the TV a better sense of direction and character.
The Vu 4K Cinema LED Android TV checks a lot of boxes when it comes to features and performance, and does so at a very competitive price. No other TV in India (that we know of) will offer you Dolby Vision at this price, and this alone makes the Vu Cinema TV our current top pick for less than Rs. 30,000. Even the 55-inch variant - priced at Rs. 33,999 - would be excellent value, given that it offers more in terms of features than its closest priced competitor, the Mi TV 4X 55 (Review).
This television isn't perfect, with sub-par black levels and jittery motion across resolutions. However, it does get the basics right when it comes to picture and sound performance, and the excellent Android TV software and interface is the icing on the cake. If you're looking for an affordable feature-filled TV, this is definitely worth a look.
Price: Rs. 29,999 (Vu 50-inch 4K Cinema LED Android TV 50CA)
Mi TV 4X vs Vu Cinema TV: Which is the best budget TV in India right now? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.