The Thomson 40-inch UD9 4K HDR TV has good content reproduction in 4K, HDR and acceptable 1080p reproduction for the price. The only thing is that you need to tinker with the picture presets to get the best image. SD content looks washed out on the TV. The audio is acceptable and the UI though interesting is buggy and gives you a mobile content streaming experience which can get frustrating. The remote control is functional and gets the job done. If you are on a tight budget looking for a second TV you can consider this. For a better smart TV experience, you need to up your budget by 5-7K.
If you are someone looking specifically for a 40-inch TV, then you would be stuck with an FHD panel. To get onto the 4K bandwagon you will have to get a TV that is 3 inches bigger i.e., a 43-inch TV. Why this is the case is anyone's guess but the fact that there are TVs available in 40 and 43 inches means that there is a market for both screen sizes. Nonetheless, today we have a TV from Thomson that is 40 inches in size and boasts of a 4K HDR display panel that is made by Samsung. The TV is priced at Rs 20,999. Is it the new budget TV to consider?
Panel Size: 40-inch
Panel Resolution: 3840 x 2160 - 4K
Panel Refresh Rate: 60Hz
HDR 10 support: Yes
Dolby Vision Support: No
HDMI Ports: 3
USB Ports: 2
HDMI ARC: Yes
Speakers: 2 x 10W
CPU: Dual Core
Built-in storage: 8GB
OS: Android 7 (AOSP)
Price: Rs 20,999
Speaking of the build of the TV it is all plastic and thick, typical for a budget TV. The two feet that you get in the box are made of plastic with a glossy finish. There is little space between the TV and the table so if you intended to have a soundbar, you may want to consider wall-mounting the TV as the soundbar could cover the bottom of the display.
The borders surrounding the TV are also plastic and glossy, so they will reflect light if you keep the TV in a room with a strong light source.
The TV is also really light. So if you need to move it from one room to another, you won’t need to call a friend over. The wall mounts and the tabletop feet both come in the box, which is nice. Note that when you press the panel, you can feel a little bit of flex in it. This isn't a concern as normally people don't use a TV as a touchscreen but it is something to keep in mind if you move the TV around a lot.
Overall, considering the 20k price point of the TV, the build is acceptable. It is light to carry, which is a good thing and the 40-inch size is adequate for a small 10x10 bedroom.
When it comes to the ports and connectivity of the TV we have 3 HDMI ports and 2 USB ports on the side, which is the preferable placement. However, considering the back plastic shell of the TV and the placement of these ports, they may be hard to reach if you have wall-mounted the TV. The place on the side isn’t enough for you to squeeze your hand through easily. At the bottom the TV has a headphone jack, antenna input, 2 AV inputs, coax and an ethernet port. The HDMI 3 slot is ARC-enabled, which is always welcome and the TV also supports HDMI CEC.
Overall, the connectivity options are good and we like the placement of the 3 HDMI ports on the side. There is ARC support in the Thomson TV, which is missing from the 43-inch Kodak TV we recently reviewed.
Like we said in the beginning when we searched for 4K and 4K HDR 40-inch TVs, we couldn't find one. So clearly there is a need which Thomson is trying to cash in on. As always we will break down our review into 4K content, 1080p content and gaming. The panel that Thomson is using is a Samsung panel and from what we can tell it is an IPS panel. Another thing to note is that when it comes to the settings of the display, in some cases like 4K HDR gaming, using the “Soft” preset with some tinkering with the backlight was required to get the best possible result. In 4K HDR movies from Netflix, the dynamic preset made more sense. For SDR and 1080p content, we changed the settings between Vivid, Dynamic and standard. Sadly, you can’t individually control brightness and contrast on the TV which is a bummer, you can, however, control the backlight.
For 4K HDR streaming, we resorted to our XBOX One X and played content from Netflix which included Daredevil Season 2 Episode 3 the staircase fight sequence and Polar the dungeon fight sequence with Mads Mikkelsen. In Daredevil we put the backlight to 100 per cent and the preset was set to dynamic to give us the best result. The same was the case for Polar. However, since the TV has a maximum brightness of 350 nits, don't expect the world of performance when it comes to HDR. We were surprised how crisp some of the fight sequences in Polar looked on this TV especially since the fight is in a dark room with the only source of light coming from the torches of the torturers (no pun intended).
In Daredevil too the fight sequence which has appeared quite dark in other TVs like the Mi TV 4A Pro was well watchable in this one.
So if you have a good internet connection and good source for 4K HDR content, then you can enjoy the HDR capabilities of this TV.
1080p content works best when toggled between the standard and dynamic settings with a few exceptions. Young Sheldon looked great in 1080p and the Standard picture preset. From the bright lively colours of Sheldon’s house to the well-lit kitchen sequences at night, the content did pop a bit in a nice way.
Spider-Man Homecoming was also good with Spider-Man’s blue and red suit looking vibrant in the standard preset. However, the colours are the first thing that get affected when quality drops so we can blame that on the internet connection. The one movie that failed to look good on this TV was John Wick. The Red Circle fight sequence has overpowering red, blue and purple colours mixed with skin tones and black clothing. This combination made the TV struggle in almost all settings, and delivered less than desirable image quality. No matter what settings we used the colours looked washed out and slightly bloomy when compared to a higher end 1080p TV (the Sony W950D to be precise).
Overall, 1080p content looks good with some exceptions.
This is where things get interesting. We played Gears of War 4 which gives you a good amount of in-game controls for HDR settings. You also get a split screen mode which shows you a comparison between HDR and SDR playback to understand the difference which is nice. We changed the picture preset to soft, reduced the backlight to about 57 and tuned the games HDR settings to get a pretty good image for playing the game. Remember a lot of games give you HDR settings in game that can be tinkered with and we highly recommend you use them to make the most of the TVs capabilities.
Gears of War 4 looks good with vibrant popping colours, deep dark nights and fluid gameplay. The TV doesn't have a game mode so there is no way to reduce the latency. However, we didn't find the game unplayable so for casual gaming and for console gaming the TV should do fine.
When it comes to SDR content, we played Doom on the TV in 4K SDR. For this, you need to up the backlight and play in the Standard preset to get the red surface of Mars looking the way it should. Vibrant and Dynamic settings increases the contrast more than I like making it look unnaturally oversaturated.
The TV is running on Android 7 out of the box and it is still AOSP which isn’t a great experience. The UI has a few nice things going for it like a weather app that shows you the forecast, and an app giving you access to beautiful wallpapers so your idiot box doesn't look like a black mirror when not in use.
There is also an app called the assistant but before you jump the gun and think it is the Google Assistant (like we did) I’d say think again. This app essentially helps you check your network connectivity, network speed and also clear up RAM. The network speed test also helps shows you the quality at which a video will playback based on your internet connection which is nice.
You also have access to the input sources and your most used apps on the home screen. You can add the apps you use the most on the home screen giving you some level of customisation. There is also a movie and music tab which curates content from YouTube. It is similar to what we saw on previous Thomson TVs but the layout has changed.
When it comes to the app store, you have the Aptoid app store giving you access to all Android apps. But be warned, they are the mobile versions of the apps and give a lacklustre experience on the TV. The quality of content from Prime Videos and Netflix isn’t great when you compare it to what we got from the Xbox One X. Also, Hotstar crashed every time we tried to open it on the TV and that is a downer.
The only app that worked really well through and through on the TV was the YouTube app which gave us resolution going up to 4K when available and the UI and playback was smooth.
Overall, the UI brings a few interesting elements but still gives a lacklustre smart experience.
The TV has two 10W down-firing speakers quite homogenous to other TVs we have tested in this price range. There are a bunch of modes like standard, movie, music etc. and they change the settings based on the content you watch. For everyday TV viewing, be it news, TV shows, etc. you can stick to the standard mode. The vocals are clear which works well for shows like Young Sheldon and Big Band Theory. If you watch content where the vocals have emphasis, then this TV works fine. However, fire up Blade Runner 2049 and you will see how the speakers aren't tuned for enjoying an immersive movie experience. Even the cyberpunk-themed Cyberpunk 2077 trailer failed to leave a lasting impact in the audio department. So yes, to enjoy the panel, get a soundbar. However, all is not lost. The speakers are clear and if you change the preset based on the content you watch, then you can watch movies and game on it once in a while.
The remote control is exactly the same we saw on the Thomson B9 Pro TV. The remote control can be classified as functional. It’s plastic, the buttons are rubbery and the home button is located in the bottom right corner. Yes, that isn't an arrow key, but the home key.
There are playback controls on the remote control as well, but only the play/pause and stop buttons work on Netflix and YouTube. You cannot use the fast forward button to scrub through the timeline. You will have to use the navigation buttons to do this. It is a little unintuitive, but something you can easily get used to. At least the functionality is there, which is a good thing.
The remote also has a mouse icon that allows you to use the pointer on the screen but don’t expect to wave the remote in front of your TV like a magic wand, it won’t work that way. You need to use the directional buttons to move the mouse which is disappointing considering that we have seen the Diwa 43-inch 4K HDR TV brings with it a USB dongle that lets you move the cursor around the TV like a magic remote. The mouse is useful as the TV has mobile version of streaming apps which can be challenging to navigate on a TV.
It is true that as of writing this review the Thomson 40-inch UD9 TV is the only 4K HDR TV with a 40-inch display. All the other 4K HDR TVs that we have tested are 43-inch in screen size. So if you specifically want a 40-inch 4K TV, you don't have options. However, increase your screen size requirement to 43-inches and you have the likes of Daiwa, TCL, Kodak, Thomson itself and more to choose from. For a price of Rs 20,999 you can consider this TV if you are looking for a second TV for the small 10x10 bedroom in your house.
For the price the TV has a good panel for content consumption and gaming with SDR content looking more washed out than I’d like. 4K content looks good, HDR is acceptable at this price and 1080p works well provided you tinker with the settings. The audio output is just OK. The UI brings interesting elements but alas, working on AOSP brings a frustrating content consumption experience.
Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.
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