Over the last couple of years, there has been an influx of smart TV in India. Brands such as Xiaomi, VU, Sanyo, Thomson, and many more have come up with some promising TV panels at less than half the price of what the leaders such as Sony, LG and Samsung offer. The latest one to join the bandwagon is the German car audio company Blaupunkt with the wide range available at different sizes. But is the 55-inch TV actually a smart TV with great image and sound quality?
Design & Display panel: The 55-inch 4K LED TV has a metallic finish grey bezel running around the sides of the panel and seems to be placed on the top of the soundbar. Although the design looks a little tired, the age-old recipe of adding a soundbar underneath the panel works in favour of Blaupunkt. However, the company seems to have cut corners on the tablet mount as it felt flimsy and even screws holes lacked symmetry. The 4K A+ grade panel with 178 degrees viewing angle offers rich colours and deep blacks but it doesn't appear to be as rich as the Xiaomi's 55inch 4K LED TV. There are various picture modes onboard - standard, eyesafe, user, cinema, dynamic - and I preferred watching content on Cinema mode.
User Interface: This isn't a Google certified Android TV but the user interface looks very similar to one. The UI seemed to be a trimmed down version of Android OS. The home page of the TV has been neatly categorised into TV inputs, apps, settings and content from various sources. It even has a list of popular apps and content that one can start streaming instantly, once connected to the WiFi network. The Netflix app was pre-installed and I was able to stream content just by logging into my account. However, the same could not be updated from the Play Store as the TV wasn't compatible with the updated app. I was able to download the Prime Video app from the Google Play Store, which worked flawlessly. Most of the apps on the Play Store are the mobile versions and are not optimised for the big screen. Other than the Play Store, there was Aptiode TV Store as well for download apps. With voice search becoming common across platforms, this TV supports one too. But it isn't something you can rely on as the TV failed to understand what I had requested for.
Built-in soundbar: In order to achieve thinner TV panels, the sound has been compromised. Blaupunkt is addressing this problem by adding a 60W soundbar to the TV. Instead of a built-in soundbar, it seems to be attached below the TV panel. The 60-watt dual speaker output offers better and immersive sound than most LED TVs in the same category. However, the built-quality could have been better as it lacks base and the volume tends to distort at higher volumes.
Remotes: This smart TV is accompanied with two remotes. First is a standard remote with number keys and the second being an air mouse remote. Latter resembles Amazon FireTV Stick and Xiaomi's Mi TV remote and features minimal yet all necessary controls such as four directional navigation button, voice search, volume control, home and more. Unlike the Bluetooth remote for Xiaomi TV that is connected while setting up the TV for the first time, the Air Mouse remote is accompanied with a USB dongle that plugs into the TV's USB port. Using AirMouse remote over traditional one was convenient as it offered quick navigation. But you cannot just rely on the AirMouse one as I had to often pick the standard remote to access certain settings.
Connectivity and Ports: TV has all the standard ports including two USB and three HDMI placed at the rear of the panel, which might be difficult to reach once the TV is wall mounted. The two USB ports might feel less if you end up using them for the AirMouse dongle and second for plugging in the Sensy Cable (bundled in the box) used for controlling set-top-box with TV's remote. The TV connects to WiFi for streaming content and using the Ethernet port can be connected with a LAN cable too. While some of the brands are trading off headphone jack for S/PDIF, Blaupunkt has retained one.
Verdict: The 55inch 4K Blaupunkt TV for Rs 47,999 is pretty decent but faces tough competition from Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4 Pro 55inch featuring a frameless HDR 4.9-mm thin panel. The latter not just looks good but is an Android TV with built-in Chromecast along with PatchWall user interface with a content first approach for Rs 49,999.