OnePlus TV U1 is one of those smart televisions that blurs the line between premium and affordable. Good thing is it does this across the board. We review.

OnePlus TV U Series 55U1 long-term review: Blurs the line between premium and affordable

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Updated: Oct 26, 2020 9:10 PM

Sharp looks, edgy performance -- at a price that more people can afford.

OnePlus TV U1 costs Rs 49,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

OnePlus TV U1 is like the OnePlus TV Q1 but more affordable. OnePlus of course had to make some changes to bring the price down from Rs 69,900 to Rs 49,999 but the biggest change it made was listening to critical and customer feedback. I can’t stress enough how important that is. The Q1 had every ingredient to justify its higher price tag, but it was also rough around the edges being OnePlus’ first attempt and all. The U1 may not be as high-end, but it’s a much more concerted effort from OnePlus. It’s more polished and even more value for money, making it the company’s best smart television in the market today.

This starts with the core design. Now, the Q1 was a beautiful TV to look at so I am assuming OnePlus already had a solid foundation to start with. The only thing it needed to do was to make it more practical. The U1 is a more practical television but more on that later. What I really like about the U1 is that even though it’s technically a more affordable TV, headlining an altogether different segment, OnePlus hasn’t compromised on the build materials, even the aesthetics. Competitors tend to do that. There are two big takeaways here. The Q1 is made of metal through and through and it is razor sharp — like literally.

OnePlus TV U1 is a much more concerted effort from OnePlus. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

OnePlus has always had a knack for minimalism, understated elegance if you will. A OnePlus product is as beautiful from the front, as it is from the back, as well as from the sides — this is by default and has got nothing to do with price or positioning. The Q1 kept that legacy intact, so does the U1. It’s not exactly identical to the U1 and yet, it’s very familiar with its carbon fiber-like finish on the back and exceptionally slim bezels on the front. At its thinnest point, the U1 measures just 6.9mm. All in all, you can tell by looking at it, this is a OnePlus TV. All that metal does mean that the U1 has considerable heft to it though. Good thing is televisions aren’t meant for lugging around.

OnePlus hasn’t compromised on the build materials. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

But televisions are most definitely meant to be sturdy. The Q1 was not a sturdy television despite all its premium. One of the reasons was OnePlus’ fancy circular base which made the whole thing wobble by even an intended touch. The U1 uses more conventional stands that OnePlus ships in the box — these are also made of metal and are as striking to look at as the rest of the TV. OnePlus doesn’t provide wall mounting accessories with the U1 but it’s a call away from sending you those things should you require them. They are sold separately so that’s something to keep in mind. It is always advisable to use first-party wall mounting accessories for fit and finish plus proper assembly.

The remote is made out of plastic. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Like the rest of the TV, the remote that goes with the U1 is also a toned-down version of the one with the Q1. It looks exactly like it, but it is bigger, and it is made out of plastic. I don’t mind the use of plastic, but I feel this is one area where OnePlus has cut corners. The whole thing feels flimsy. But in line with the whole theme of this TV, the remote is also getting a much-needed improvement by way of a dedicated multi-function button that lets you access quick settings from anywhere on the screen.

The real kicker is the support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Speaking of the screen, its big highlight is its wafer-thin bezels. When turned off, you won’t even notice them and they are barely there, even when it’s on. OnePlus claims a screen-to-body ratio of a whopping 95 per cent, which isn’t very far behind from what you get in the Q1. There’s a small chin housing the OnePlus logo and power button at one end to complete the package. That screen has some impressive credentials too. It’s 55-inch which I think is the ideal screen size for most households — not too small, not very big — and has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 or Ultra-HD. The real kicker is the support for Dolby Vision and MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation), features that are rare in this price range.

The U1 has a 30W speaker setup. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The panel is LED-backlit LCD and not QLED like the Q1 which is understandable considering the lower price. For what it’s worth, the quality of the screen here is excellent. Colours are punchy, brightness levels and viewing angles are also quite good for the price. OnePlus gives you a lot of profile options to tinker with to tailor the display according to your taste and available content. MEMC is a value addition to have, but one that I am personally not very fond of. The U1 shines best at rendering peak 4K Dolby Vision content the way that it’s intended but it isn’t too shabby when it comes to showing lower-resolution content (1080p and lower) either. The U1 can intelligently upscale this content in real-time and it does a fairly good job while at it.

Software inside the U1 is Android TV 9 Pie. You can choose to go with the basic layout or OnePlus’ custom skin, Oxygen Play, that emphasises on content rather than apps. It’s still in early stages though which means there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Xiaomi’s Patch Wall is a clear benchmark of how a third-party Android TV experience can be when it comes to both smarts and ease of use.

The U1 punches way above its weight in all the areas that matter and then some. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The U1 has a 30W speaker setup (with Dolby Atmos support) which can get really loud but all-round sound quality could be better.

Connectivity options include three HDMI (one of which supports ARC), two USB ports, AV-In and RF, an optical audio output, and an Ethernet port — so it is well stacked there.

Should you buy the OnePlus TV U Series 55U1?

India’s smart TV market is bustling with activity today. There are a lot of good options to consider. And unlike in the past, you don’t even have to break your bank to get a good smart TV. Or rather, one that’s feature packed to the T. The OnePlus TV U1 is one of those smart televisions that blur the line between premium and affordable. The good thing about the U1 is that it does this across the board. Whether you talk about the design and build materials, specs, or experience, the U1 punches way above its weight in all the areas that matter and then some.

The U1 is not the most value for money smart TV in the market today but if you’re looking for something that’s not just about the basics, but also gives you a dash of premium inside a high-quality package, this is what you should be looking at. That it also makes high-end features like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos accessible is just an icing on the cake.

Pros:

  • Premium build and design
  • Great 4K screen
  • Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos support

Cons:

  • Audio could be better
  • Flimsy bundled remote

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