Indian television brand Vu only recently launched its Cinema TV range in India, which we praised for the sheer value on offer. That television series features support for the Dolby Vision HDR format, and runs on the Android TV platform, at prices starting well under Rs. 30,000. While we'd have expected Vu to sit back and wait a while before its next launch, the company is clearly in no mood to hit the brakes.
Soon after the Vu Cinema TV series was launched, the company introduced another television range in India - the Vu Premium 4K TV series. The new models have many of the capabilities of the Cinema TV series, including Dolby Vision HDR and Android TV with support for all the major streaming services. So what sets this the Vu Premium 4K TV apart from the company's previous offerings, as well as the competition? Find out in our review.
The Vu Premium 4K TV range is available in three sizes - 43-inch, 50-inch and 55-inch - and all have the same specifications save for the 43-inch variant, which has a rated sound output of 24W as compared to 30W for the 50-inch and 55-inch options. All three variants have 4K LED-backlit screens and support HDR content up to the Dolby Vision format. The specifications and features are similar to those of the Vu Cinema TV range which is available on Amazon in India, but the Premium 4K range is available on Flipkart and is priced just a bit more affordably at Rs. 24,999 onwards.
We had the top-end 55-inch 55PM version for review, which is priced at Rs. 31,999. This makes it among the most affordable televisions of this size with Dolby Vision in India. However, there are some key differences between this range and the 55-inch Vu Cinema TV: the sound output is a bit less at 30W, and the design is a bit more discreet and focused on the screen. This is a good thing in our opinion, since the viewer's attention is more easily directed to the content on screen rather than the design of the TV.
The chin of the Vu Premium 4K TV is narrower, making for a better screen-to-body ratio. The included stands are grey and match the bottom of the TV, while the rest is plain black. This makes the TV a lot less striking, but with televisions we consider that to be a good thing. The stands are attached near the two ends of the TV, so if you table-mount it, you'll need a wide enough table.
Wall-mounting the TV is easy enough, and standard VESA mounts will attach on easily. The power cord is non-detachable, and most ports and sockets face to the left of the screen. These include three HDMI ports (with HDMI ARC supported on the HDMI 1 port), two USB ports, digital audio out, Ethernet, an antenna port, and 3.5mm audio out. The AV In sockets are the only ones which face to the back.The ports were all hard to access with the TV on a wall mount, so it's advisable to connect all your cables and devices before mounting it.
The TV has a rated brightness of 400 nits and a standard refresh rate of 60Hz. To run the operating system, the Vu Premium 4K TV has a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. There's 16GB of storage for apps and app data. Dolby and DTS audio are supported by the 30W box speaker system, and the 55-inch variant weighs a modest 12.3kg without the stands.
While most major TV manufacturers have moved to smaller, minimalist remotes, Vu held firm with full-size remotes till as recently as early this year. However, with the Vu Premium 4K TV, the company has finally gone with a small remote that has fewer buttons. It's a Bluetooth unit that runs on two AAA batteries; the TV's power is controlled by an IR emitter, though.
The number pad, colour buttons, and playback controls are all gone, with the remote keeping the focus on the direction pad and Android TV navigation buttons. There are also hotkeys for Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar, apart from a Google Assistant button.
You can of course change the source, access settings, adjust the volume, and mute sound using the remote. It looks good and works well. We did miss dedicated playback keys; the D-pad substitutes for these, but isn't quite as easy to use as proper playback controls. The back has a grippy textured finish which we liked, and we were particularly impressed with the unique design of the power button.
The Vu Premium 4K TV, like other Android TV devices, has built-in Chromecast functionality which is useful for screen mirroring from compatible devices. Bluetooth connectivity not only allows for the remote to work without being pointed at the TV, but also lets you connect external wireless headphones or speakers.
Android TV is one of the most popular smart TV platforms in India, and Vu continues to work with Google to enable smart connectivity on its televisions. The Vu Premium 4K TV runs on Android TV 9 Pie (the current version of the platform), with the stock launcher and access to all of the popular apps and streaming services. Unlike on some Android TV-powered televisions sold by companies that compete with some streaming services (such as the MarQ range), Vu's televisions have no limitations on the Android TV platform; you can access pretty much everything available.
Popular apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar are preinstalled on the TV, and work to its full capabilities. This means that you can watch 4K, Dolby Vision and HDR10 content if your Internet connection and subscription plans support that. You can also use Google Assistant to access content or get contextual information, as well as use an Assistant-based device such as the Google Home to control some features of the TV through voice commands.
All the software and connectivity based features of the Vu Premium 4K TV worked as expected. We've described in detail why we like the Android TV platform so much in many of our previous reviews, and it's no different with the Vu Premium 4K TV. This is arguably the best smart TV platform available right now, and makes for an entirely satisfying experience without the need for additional equipment such as media streaming devices.
The TV is quick to wake from standby and doesn't need to boot up fully every time it's turned on, like some other Android TV devices. The full list of settings is accessible through the Android TV home screen, but a limited set that includes picture and sound settings can be accessed while content is playing from any source.
We did notice some issues with performance when using an HDMI device for HDR10 content. On our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, The Grand Tour was either too dull or completely whitewashed, depending on whether the Fire TV Stick was set to 10-bit or 12-bit HDR; a proper picture was impossible to get. Apart from this, colours also occasionally looked strange with non-HDR content, and we generally preferred using the Android TV interface for its lack of picture issues. We do hope that a software update will fix this.
With similar specifications to the Vu Cinema TV at a slightly lower price, the Vu Premium 4K TV is definitely worth considering if you're looking for a value-for-money option. With a 55-inch 4K LED screen and support for HDR up to the Dolby Vision format, the television can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, and do so capably.
There are small differences between the Vu Premium 4K TV and the Cinema TV when it comes to sound and peak brightness, but in everyday use you aren't likely to notice these differences. The 55PM is among the best 55-inch televisions you can buy on a tight budget; it makes sense if you're looking for top-end features and decent enough performance for the price.
We started with 4K Dolby Vision content to test the TV at its best, playing some of our sample video clips as well as content from Netflix such as Night On Earth and The King. Colours and moderate motion were handled well by the TV, and the picture was reasonably bright and fairly sharp.
Black levels were not great, and we did see a grey tinge across the screen in dark scenes. This wasn't as bad with Dolby Vision content, but full-HD and HD content highlighted this grey tinge particularly strongly, and made for below-average blacks in most of the movies, TV shows, and video clips we watched.
Bright scenes played out beautifully on the Vu Premium 4K TV, and were a joy to watch. Colourful shots, particularly the vivid daytime scenes in Narcos: Mexico, were striking and incredibly accurate when it came to colour tones. This was largely visible even with good HDR10 content, such as various episodes of The Grand Tour.
With regular SDR 4K content, the Vu Premium 4K TV retains sharpness and detail, but we did notice some issues with rapid motion, and brightness wasn't as impressive as we'd have liked even at this price level. South Korean movie Parasite - the Oscar winner for Best Picture this year - occasionally looked a bit too dull in the dark scenes, particularly the early parts of the movie which show the living conditions of the main characters in the movie.
Due to Internet issues while watching the movie, the resolution constantly switched from 4K to full-HD for us. This highlighted another small issue; colour temperature seemed to change as the resolution switched. 4K content seemed a bit duller than full-HD content, with the TV seeming to compensate for the lower resolution with more brightness. This tells us that the TV's in-built algorithms for picture improvement don't always work too well.
Switching to full-HD and HD content, we watched Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. The picture was sharp thanks to good upscaling by the TV, but colours were a bit too punchy, and motion was too jittery for our liking. Even with all motion processing switched off, the TV didn't render proper motion blur in shots with fast motion, particularly the scenes of Brad Pitt's character driving down the streets of Hollywood.
Watching The Mandalorian on Disney+ Hotstar at full-HD resolution, we were impressed with how good the Star Wars universe looked, with Din Djarin's silver Beskar armour glistening and looking particularly striking on the Vu Premium 4K TV. Dark scenes didn't look as good though, with the Vu Premium 4K TV faltering a bit in the face of Hotstar's much-criticised stream quality.
With standard definition content, the Vu 55PM faltered just a bit. The TV does a satisfactory job of upscaling standard definition content, and sharpness is as good as we'd expect from SD video on a 55-inch TV. However, we found colours and brightness to be a tad artificially boosted, and motion issues meant that there were a few too many artefacts in quick-moving scenes. This didn't matter too much with animated videos, but had a slight negative impact with live-action content.
A big reason that we liked the Vu Cinema TV so much was its front-firing 40W sound system. The Vu Premium 4K TV's slightly lower price is partly explained by the fact that it has a less capable 30W box speaker setup, which fires downwards from the bottom of the TV. The sound was ordinary in all regards, as we'd have expected from any TV in this price range. It did get suitably loud and was clear enough even at high volumes. You should invest in a good soundbar or speaker system if you can, but The TV's speakers will work satisfactorily enough if you don't have the budget for that.
Vu has, for years now, made Indian television buyers question the need to spend big bucks on their next TV. With the Vu Premium 4K TV, the company continues to offer excellent value for money. For Rs. 31,999, the 55-inch version of this television offers specifications and features we'd normally expect to see in TVs that cost twice as much. It isn't without its issues, but we were impressed with it for the most part.
If you rely on streaming services for most of your viewing, the Vu Premium 4K TV won't let you down. Dolby Vision content naturally brings out the best in this TV, but it does an acceptable job even with lower resolutions. As with most big-screen televisions, standard definition is its only weak point, so that's something to consider if you spend much of your time watching standard-definition DTH or cable TV content.
The biggest competition to the Vu Premium 4K TV is another model from the same stable - the Vu Cinema TV. It costs just a bit more than the Vu Premium 4K TV, but offers better sound quality and more striking looks. If these things matter to you, it's worth considering over the Vu Premium 4K TV. There's also a small difference in availability which might matter to some people; the Cinema TV is easily available on Amazon, while the Premium 4K TV can be bought on Flipkart.
Price: Rs. 31,999 (Vu Premium 4K LED Android TV 55PM)
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