Overall Rating: 4.3/5
Price: Rs 29,999
The Vu Cinema TV is probably the fourth Smart TV series from the company that I have reviewed over the past 12 months. While most of their previous TVs have ranged between above average to good, this new series looks to take the performance to a new level on multiple fronts with support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Audio. The company strives to deliver a cinematic experience at home with improved picture quality and sound with this new TV.
Marketing buzz aside, does it actually manage to deliver what other TVs in this budget haven’t till date? Time to dive deeper into the 50-inch Vu Cinema TV and find out.
Vu 50CA Cinema TV — Design and connectivity: 8.5/10
For once we have a TV that moves away from the generic design template and stands out from the crowd in this segment. This model is almost bezel-less on three sides with an understandably thick bottom bezel that hosts the soundbar. A thin, golden line separates the screen from the soundbar and adds to the elegance. A prominent gold Vu logo is placed at the left of the bottom bezel, with a Dolby logo on the right.
The power LED and IR receiver are placed below the bottom bezel at the centre. The TV is fairly slim, though not the slimmest, and can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled metal stands. To go with the black and gold theme, the stands are golden too and don’t look out of place. The necessary screws and mounts are provided in the package.
On the connectivity front, you get three HDMI ports — one of which supports ARC, two USB 2.0 ports, AV input, optical audio, headphone out and a LAN port. You also have Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to wireless speakers or headphones. All the connectivity ports are placed along the left edge of the TV and aren’t very hard to reach even if you wall mount the TV.
Vu 50CA Cinema TV — Features and specifications: 8/10
The Vu 50CA has a 50-inch VA panel with an Ultra HD (4K) resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels with a 60-Hz refresh rate. The panel uses Vu’s Pixelium Glass technology and can hit up to 500 nits, which is quite bright (an average laptop screen is 200 nits).
The TV supports HDR10, HLG, and more importantly, Dolby Vision for HDR content. The screen response time figures weren’t available, but there was no noticeable ghosting visible during the course of testing. Like all smart TVs, there is built-in Wi-Fi, but strangely, it is limited to 2.4 GHz b/g/n standards with no support for 5 GHz networks.
On the specifications front, this TV is powered by a quad-core processor with 1.5 GB RAM and 8 GB of internal storage, a chunk of which is taken up by the Android Pie 9.0 OS. This is perhaps the first budget TV in India to use ARM Cortex A55 cores (as opposed to A53 cores or lesser on most TVs) and a Mali–470 MP GPU. Each of the four CPU cores can throttle between 1,100 MHz to 1,400 MHz. Audio output is rated at 40 Watts RMS; more on that in the audio quality section.
Like all official Android TVs, it has Chromecast built in and lets you cast content to the screen from compatible apps on your phone or tablet. It comes with a full function remote control that supports IR and Bluetooth. The remote, too, sports the black and gold theme and has a sturdy build. A pair of AAA batteries required to power the remote are bundled in the package. The power button on the remote communicates with the TV using IR when switching on, and then everything operates over Bluetooth.
The remote is voice enabled, so you can summon Google Assistant by pressing the corresponding button and issue voice commands. It works smoothly without any delay on most occasions. The remote has hotkeys for Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Google Play Store, along with content playback keys, navigations keys, volume control, mute button, settings, and a D-pad. Ideally the company should have stopped at that, but there are tons of other keys that add to the clutter and serve no real purpose. Possibly, Vu could have bundled the same or slightly modified version of the remote you get with their OA (Official Android) series of TVs — minimal yet complete.
Vu 50CA Cinema TV — User interface: 9/10
This Vu TV runs official Android Pie 9.0 for TV and has the stock user interface that you get to see on most official Android TVs without any third party launcher on top. It is simple and easy to use even for a novice user. You have a row of your favourite installed apps, the shortcuts for which you can add, remove or shuffle around. The TV comes preloaded with Google Play Store and gives you access to tons of popular apps. Other rows display last played or suggested content from various online streaming services that you can choose from.
The best part here is that, unlike most Android TVs, the Vu Cinema TV allows you to change the sound and picture settings on the fly while viewing content from any source, be it while viewing something on an app like Netflix or YouTube or an HDMI source like DTH, or simply when watching something via USB. All you need to do is press the settings button on the remote to bring up the menu and make the necessary adjustments — simple and effective. This is something I have been hoping to see on every official Android TV for a while now.
Vu 50CA Cinema TV — Picture quality: 8.5/10
Moving on to the business end of the review, the picture quality of this TV is impressive, and given its sub–30K price tag, I can say it’s very impressive. The 4K panel is noticeably bright, as advertised, and brighter than most screens in this budget. It has good contrast, though it’s not perfect, and details in dark areas in high contrast scenes in our test videos were visible for most parts. The black levels aren’t perfect but are more than acceptable for a TV in this price range. Colour reproduction is excellent and leaves hardly any room for complaint. The colours feel vibrant yet natural on this screen, and that’s a big tick mark against its name.
As mentioned earlier, this TV supports Dolby Vision, and HDR content encoded in that format looks brilliant on this screen. Of course, one cannot expect the same finesse in contrast as on TVs priced two to three times higher, but this TV certainly punches way above its weight in that department. 4K content on Netflix with Dolby Vision or 4K HDR content on Prime Video played using an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K looked a lot better on this TV as compared to other TVs in this price range, this includes the likes of the similarly priced Mi TV 4X.
Regular 4K content looked sharp on this TV too, and colours were accurate. Most Full HD content wasn’t far behind either. 720p videos were a bit of a hit or miss on this screen though, but still watchable. The upscaling engine here does a decent job but cannot create magic with non-HD content. Anything lower than 720p looks flat and washed out. Well, that’s the case with almost every 4K TV that I have tested till date, so that’s not such a big deal.
Viewing angles are pretty good but not as great as on an IPS panel. However, even from sharp angles, there was only a marginal colour shift and the picture was perfectly watchable.
The default picture is tuned well and you also have a good number of picture adjustment options like brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation, etc., to fine-tune the image to your liking. In addition to this, you also get advanced options for adjusting white balance, colour temperature, digital and MPEG noise reduction, and more. And as I had mentioned earlier, these can be accessed at the press of a button from anywhere rather than diving deep into the Android menu every time.
Vu 50CA Cinema TV — Audio quality: 9/10
This is one part of the TV review where my enthusiasm usually drops, but that’s not the case here. The Vu Cinema TV comes with four front-firing speakers in a soundbar like enclosure that deliver a total sound output of 40 Watts RMS. A pair of main speakers are rated at 15 Watts each, while a pair of tweeters add another 5+5 Watts of Dolby certified audio. The sound output is easily the best I have heard on a flat panel display priced under Rs 40,000.
There is a fair amount of warmth (bass) in the sound and good separation between the highs and mids. There is ample clarity in the vocals and the soundstage is surprisingly broad too. Once again, the speakers are tuned well out of the box and you have more sound adjustments to tweak the sound further. The loudness is excellent and I never had to raise the volume beyond 50 percent during the course of my testing.
Having said all that, a quick reality check: the sound is indeed better than what you get on most LED TVs, and distinctly so. But don’t expect it to be as good or better than a soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer. However, this is perhaps one of those very few TVs where you may not feel the need to buy a soundbar straight away, and the built-in speakers should suffice for most of your audio needs, from watching news or sports to movies to listening to music. You do have a handful of audio outputs in case you wish to upgrade your audio experience.
Vu 50CA Cinema TV — Overall performance: 8/10
The TV takes about 40 seconds to boot up when you switch it on from the mains, which is average at best for smart TVs these days. But post that, if you switch it off and on from the remote, the TV comes back on almost instantaneously from standby mode. It’s good to see this instant resume feature becoming a standard thing on most smart TVs released in the past couple of quarters. Someday, Xiaomi will have that feature too (hopefully) and also feel the need for a mute button (one can only hope).
When I first looked at the spec sheet, I was concerned about the relatively low amount of RAM here (1.5 GB). I would have preferred to see at least 2 GB despite a faster CPU and GPU. While it doesn’t hamper most aspects of the TV’s performance in a major way, a little more RAM would have avoided the odd stutter in the UI or when jumping forward or back in a 4K video. Speaking of 4K videos, it managed to play those through USB fairly smoothly with the default player. The preloaded Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube apps function smoothly and can stream 4K content.
One minor issue I noticed was that the TV always defaults to the tuner mode after booting up (when you switch it on from the mains). One has to hit the Home button on the remote to take it to the Android launcher home page. I couldn’t find a fix for this but it’s something that the company can easily fix with a software update. Other than that, there was nothing much to complain about this TV. It was a very pleasant experience all along.
Vu 50CA Cinema TV — Price and verdict
The Vu 50CA Cinema TV can be purchased on Amazon India for Rs 29,999 with a one-year warranty. For that price, you get a 50-inch Ultra HD official Android TV with arguably the best picture and sound quality in this segment. The elegant atypical design is an added bonus. The TV looks, performs and sounds way beyond its asking price and offers great value for money.
You do get other similar sized TVs in this budget from various brands, but this Vu TV outperforms them on almost every front, including other Vu models. Hence, I do not have a compelling reason to recommend any other TV over this one at this time, if you have a budget of up to Rs 35,000 that is.