Realme Smart TV 4K 43 Review: Ultra-HD and Dolby Vision, With a Small Screen


Realme entered the television segment in India with the Realme Smart TV range in 2020, sensibly launching 32-inch HD and 43-inch Full-HD televisions to cater to the volume-driven budget smart TV segment. This was followed by the high-end Realme SLED 55-inch Ultra-HD TV, but the company isn’t quite ready to stop yet. The latest launch from the brand is the Realme Smart TV 4K range, with Ultra-HD televisions available in two sizes: 43 inches and 50 inches.

Entering a crowded budget Ultra-HD TV segment that is filled with competition from brands such as Redmi, TCL, and AmazonBasics, the Realme Smart TV 4K hopes to make an impact using Realme’s established reputation as a top smartphone maker. With Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, the Rs. 27,999 Realme Smart TV 4K 43 is promising on paper, but just how good is this television in practice? Find out in our review on Realme’s latest 43-inch Ultra-HD HDR TV.

realme smart tv 4k 43 review f1 dts 2 Realme

The Realme Smart TV 4K 43 is a considerable step up from the Realme Smart TV 43, particularly when it comes to the resolution and support for HDR content

 

Realme Smart TV 4K 43 design and specifications

The Realme Smart TV 43 from 2020 is a fairly ordinary-looking television, but the slim borders around its screen and black plastic body ensure that all attention falls on the content you’re watching. The same can be said of the Realme Smart TV 4K 43; it isn’t much to look at, but it isn’t too shabby either. Apart from the 43-inch model on review here, Realme is also offering this television in a 50-inch model, which is priced at Rs. 39,999 in India.

A key point in the Realme Smart TV 4K 43’s favour is its size. It isn’t a large television, so it will fit even in small spaces and be suitable for shorter viewing distances. While most 43-inch televisions have a full-HD (1920×1080-pixel) resolution, the Realme Smart TV 4K 43 is an Ultra-HD (3840×2160-pixel) television, with support for various HDR formats including HLG, HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.

This TV is neither very slim nor too thick, and there is one notable difference between the 4K range and their full-HD equivalents – there is a long strip under the Realme logo at the bottom with indicator lights on these new models. Apart from the main status light for the TV, there are also four bright white LEDs which illuminate when the main microphone of the TV is switched off, and stay on all the time. This is a bit bothersome as these are bright and can be annoying in a dark room, and can only be switched off by turning the microphones on or turning off the TV from the mains. A switch at the back of the TV near the main power button can turn the microphones on, to activate the always-listening microphone for voice commands; I’ll talk more about this later in the review.

Included in the sales package are stands to table-mount the Realme Smart TV 4K, which were easy to attach myself, but you don’t get a wall-mount kit. The television supports standard VESA wall mounts, so you can set it up on your wall with an aftermarket kit. Realme is providing installation with the television, but the wall-mount kit is an optional extra that you’ll have to either source on your own or buy from the installation technician. This 43-inch TV weighs around 6.5kg.

For sound, the Realme Smart TV 4K has a 24W four-speaker system with support for the DTS HD, Dolby Audio, and Dolby Atmos formats. This TV is powered by a MediaTek quad-core processor, and also supports Chroma Boost for non-HDR picture content. The TV has three HDMI ports (one of which supports HDMI ARMC), two USB ports, Bluetooth 5, and dual-band Wi-Fi.

Other connectivity options include a Digital Optical audio output, an Ethernet port, an antenna socket, and a single AV input to be used with a three-pin adapter. There is 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage for apps and app data, with the Realme Smart TV 4K running on Android TV 10.

realme smart tv 4k 43 review remote Realme

The remote on the Realme Smart TV 4K has hotkeys for Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video

 

Realme Smart TV 4K 43 remote and features

The similarities in design between the Realme Smart TV and the Realme Smart TV 4K extend to their remotes as well – the 4K TV has the exact same remote as the one on the 2020 full-HD model. It’s a small, light remote with few buttons. It has a microphone, and is powered by two AAA batteries which are included in the box.

This is a Bluetooth remote and can be used for most functions without even being pointed at the TV (once paired), although power control will continue to use the IR emitter even after pairing. The remote can also be used to invoke Google Assistant on the television, and there are hotkeys for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. Other buttons include controls for volume, source selection, and Android TV navigation, and a D-pad to navigate the interface.

The Settings button on the remote can bring up the picture, sound, and miscellaneous hardware settings for the Realme Smart TV 4K from any screen, including within content. As with most Android TV-powered devices, this television has Google Chromecast functionality built in, which can be used to cast content wirelessly from compatible devices and apps.

A rather useful feature on the Realme Smart TV 4K is hands-free access to Google Assistant, facilitated by four microphones on the television itself. When turned on, the TV is always listening for voice commands invoked by the ‘Hey Google’ or ‘OK Google’ wake words. Google Assistant on the TV can respond to questions, provide information, and control the functions of the TV itself, such as opening apps, playing and controlling content, adjusting the volume, and turning the TV off.

All of this worked well for me, although the response time was a bit slow compared to similar functionality with Alexa on the Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen). I found it particularly useful to be able to skip back a few seconds at a time when streaming content, in case I missed something important or wanted to watch a scene again.

realme smart tv 4k 43 review mic switch Realme

A small switch at the back of the TV turns on or off the always-listening microphones for hands-free Google Assistant access

 

Realme Smart TV 4K 43 software and interface

Realme has gone with Android TV 10 for the Smart TV 4K series, with the television running the stock Android TV launcher. Unlike Xiaomi’s televisions which also have the PatchWall UI alongside the stock Android TV, Realme is sticking to the basics with just a single launcher. This keeps things simple, with all key apps and streaming services supported and downloadable through the Google Play Store for Android TV.

Some apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube, come preinstalled on the Realme Smart TV 4K. We’ve already spoken in detail about how Android TV compares with other platforms, and the Realme Smart TV 4K offers all of these benefits through its familiar user interface and software.

As mentioned in the previous section, the Settings button brings up detailed settings for picture, sound, and more anywhere within the TV’s interface, including while content is being played. Although not very detailed, there is enough scope to tweak the picture and set it up according to your liking. This is a big improvement over previous Realme TVs, with no major drawbacks or shortcomings.

realme smart tv 4k 43 review android tv Realme

The Realme Smart TV 4K 43 runs on Android TV 10, with the stock Android TV launcher

 

It’s also worth pointing out here that Dolby Atmos audio has to be turned on manually through the sound settings, and doesn’t automatically get enabled when you play supported content, as is the case on most other televisions that support the format. Although this wasn’t a huge inconvenience, I did realise that Dolby Atmos was being implemented by the TV’s own software, rather than reading the encoding directly from the content. Dolby Vision and other HDR content did read directly from the apps and activate automatically, so this issue only affected the audio.

Realme Smart TV 4K 43 performance

The Realme Smart TV 4K is, on paper, the most capable television the company has made yet, thanks to support for Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound. Apart from this, the 43-inch screen makes it small enough to suit the typical viewing distances urban Indian homes, while giving viewers the advantage of the Ultra-HD resolution and up to Dolby Vision HDR. However, performance is less than ideal on the whole; colour reproduction and sharpness fell a bit short in my experience.

Ultra-HD content is typically best watched on a 55-inch television, since this is big enough to bring out the detail and sharpness in the picture, and I’ve always felt that 43-inch 4K televisions don’t quite do full justice to the resolution. This seemed particularly relevant with the Realme Smart TV 4K; the picture was naturally sharper than on a similarly-sized full-HD TV, but not by a lot. Along with colours that were often excessively punchy and dull in the same frame, the overall viewing experience was a bit strange.

Starting with Ultra-HD Dolby Vision content to see how good the Realme Smart TV 4K is with top-quality video, I played a few episodes of the second season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive. The television detected Dolby Vision content on its own and switched to the special settings for the content, but this didn’t seem to have too much of an impact on picture quality, particularly on the brightness and colour accuracy.

The picture was only slightly brighter than with non-HDR content, but this seemed to be more of a general wash of brightness across the frame rather than the different levels of intensity across the picture that many premium televisions manage to achieve. The size of the TV also doesn’t allow for as much impact, and the Realme Smart TV 4K doesn’t do a lot to improve the picture.

realme smart tv 4k 43 review f1 dts 1 Realme

Although definitely better looking than a 43-inch Full-HD TV, colours and detail were less than ideal on the Realme Smart TV 4K

 

The bright blue skies over Monaco during the Monaco Grand Prix seemed a bit artificially enhanced and looked ‘too’ blue, while skin tones appeared a bit too yellow. Formula 1 cars zipping along on the track and the general hustle and bustle of the pit lane looked soft and underwhelming, rather than sharp and tight. Motion was a bit jittery, making for an overall viewing experience that, while definitely better than the typical full-HD TV, didn’t quite match up to Ultra-HD standards in other ways.

Performance with standard HDR10 and HDR10+ content – various shows on Amazon Prime Video including The Grand Tour and James May’s Oh Cook! – were similarly a bit too soft and had strange colours, particularly skin tones and earth colours such as greens and blues. Moving away from HDR content and switching to standard dynamic range, regardless of the resolution, impacted the colour accuracy significantly. American Barbecue Showdown on Netflix looked a bit unnatural, particularly the skin tones and the colours of the food; vegetables and meat looked oddly-coloured.

Full-HD and standard definition content looked reasonably clean and detailed because of the size of the TV, although animated movies and videos did again suffer from the strange colour reproduction I saw with Ultra-HD content. My Neighbour Totoro’s classic animation looked a bit weird in bright scenes, with the grass and trees that are abundantly seen in the movie appearing almost blue rather than green.

While the slow, calculated motion of this movie looked clean, the colours took away from the overall viewing experience a fair bit. Standard definition videos looked about as sharp as could be expected thanks to the size of the TV, but there were occasional artefacts to be seen with quick movements.

With a 24W four-speaker system, the Realme Smart TV 4K’s audio performance is impressive; it’s loud, sounds clean, and gets the tuning right to allow for dialogue, sound effects, and background scores to be heard properly and pleasantly. Even at high levels, I didn’t often hear excessive volume spikes that needed me to keep adjusting the volume. The sound quality is excellent for a smaller room such as a bedroom, and you won’t need additional equipment such as a soundbar or speaker system.

While the television does support Dolby Atmos audio, as mentioned earlier, it needs to be toggled manually through the settings and doesn’t automatically get activated for content that is encoded with the format, such as Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix. Activating the Atmos toggle allowed the television to apply its own conversion for Atmos regardless of the content, but it wasn’t able to read the original sound signal from the content itself when supported.

Although the Realme Smart TV 4K did sound better with the Atmos toggle set to ‘On’, the impact wasn’t quite as impressive as I’ve heard on televisions with proper Atmos implementation such as the LG 48CX (Review) and OnePlus TV Q1 Pro (Review). This is perhaps something that Realme could fix with a software update going forward, but for now, the Dolby Atmos implementation is a bit awkward on the television.

Verdict

Although well established in the smartphone and audio segments, Realme still has some way to go before becoming a significant player in the smart TV space. Like its previous efforts, there’s a lot to like about the Realme Smart TV 4K, but it falls short of delivering the all-round experience that others in this price segment do when it comes to picture quality. Despite having an Ultra-HD screen with support for Dolby Vision HDR, picture performance falls short when it comes to colour accuracy and detail.

In most other ways, the Realme Smart TV 4K gets things right. The TV looks decent, there are plenty of connectivity options, the software and features work well, and sound quality is pretty good for an affordable Ultra-HD TV. However, picture quality is the most important factor on any television, and Realme has some way to go in this department.

All of that said, this is among a small set of 43-inch televisions with support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, so it might just be worth considering the Realme Smart TV 4K if you’re looking for a good compact television priced under Rs. 30,000. If size is not a constraint and you can go a bit bigger, it might be worth considering the AmazonBasics TV range or Redmi Smart TV X50 as well.


It’s an all television spectacular this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss 8K, screen sizes, QLED and mini-LED panels — and offer some buying advice. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.



Source link