Ameya DalviJun 22, 2020 08:54:24 IST
Overall Rating: 3.8/5
Price: Rs 27,999
Kodak has been in the budget smart TV business in India for quite a while now. But the company happened to launch its first certified Android TV series just a couple of months ago. Today, we take a close look at the 49-inch Ultra HD model from their CA series (no points for guessing CA stands for Certified Android) and tell you everything you need to know about it, and also how it stacks up against the competition in this segment.
Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV - Design and connectivity: 8/10
Kodak has dialed in the current trend of near bezel-less design on this TV/series. This model is almost bezel-less on three sides with a centimetre thick textured bottom bezel that bears the company logo at the centre, and a small chin below it, that hosts the power LED and IR receiver. A pair of bottom-firing speakers are neatly concealed. The TV does look quite elegant and the bundled steel gray stands add to the style quotient.
The TV is fairly slim and can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the stands. The necessary screws and mounts are provided in the package along with wireless remote control and a pair of AAA batteries. In the connectivity department, you get three HDMI ports - one of which supports ARC, two USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0), Optical audio out, A/V input and a LAN port, all along the left edge of the rear module.
One notable absentee here is a connector for analog audio out - no headphone jack or A/V out. So you cannot connect speakers with 3.5 mm or coaxial inputs to this TV directly. The TV does support Bluetooth 5.1 to connect your wireless speakers or headphones. Though the connectivity ports are placed along the side of the TV, they are a good 16 inches inwards from the edge, making it hard to reach if you wall-mount the TV. I would have preferred to see them at least 8 inches closer to the edge.
Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV - Features and specifications: 7.5/10
The Kodak 50CA7077 has a 49-inch IPS panel with an Ultra HD (4K) resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and support for 10-bit colour. The panel is quite glossy and attracts a fair amount of glare. So make sure you place the TV on the right wall or desk that doesn’t face a window or a bright light source. It has a rated brightness of 550 nits, and support for HDR standards like HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision. Like all smart TVs, there is built-in WiFi, but supports only 2.4 GHz networks with a/b/g/n standards.
Processing power and RAM is where the TV could have done a little better. This Kodak TV is powered by a quad-core processor with ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1 GHz each and Mali-450 MP GPU. The company claims that the TV has 1.75 GB RAM, while AIDA64 shows a figure of 1.5 GB. It doesn’t matter who is right, ideally, it should have been 2 GB. Similarly, the company should have used a slightly faster-processing chip. I will tell you why in the performance section.
You get 8 GB of internal storage here, a chunk of which is taken up by the official Android Pie 9.0 OS. Sound output is rated at 30 Watts RMS with support for Dolby Digital Plus and DTS TruSurround. Like all certified 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 both. The remote is voice-enabled, so you can summon Google Assistant by pressing the corresponding button and issue voice commands.
The remote has hotkeys for Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and Google Play, along with navigation keys, input key, volume control, mute button, settings, media controls, and a D-pad. There are a bunch of other keys too that you may never need to use, but none of the important ones have been left out.
Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV - User interface: 6.5/10
The Kodak 50CA7077 runs the official Android TV Pie 9.0 OS and has a stock user interface without any third-party launcher. However, it feels sluggish at times due to a lack of optimisation perhaps. The odd stutter notwithstanding, it is easy to use even for a novice user. You have a row of frequently used apps, the shortcuts for which you can add, remove or shuffle around. Other rows display last played or suggested content from various online streaming services. The TV comes preloaded with Google Play Store and gives you access to thousands of popular apps. Apps for Netflix and Prime Video are preinstalled.
While Kodak hasn’t fiddled around with the UI much, a couple of options are inexplicably missing from the settings menu. The biggest absentee being Picture adjustments. On the Android home screen or when viewing content through an app, you can press the Menu button and gain access to the picture presets, but you cannot adjust any of the parameters like brightness, contrast, sharpness etc. To access those, you need to get off the home screen or the streaming service and choose an HDMI input source. There you can bring up the Picture settings by hitting the Menu button on the remote, choosing More and then TV Setting.
I see no logic in burying something as important so deep. And those are not the only settings that you find there. Even Sound settings and quick boot option are hidden there; and the latter is off by default. I had seen something similar in the Thomson official Android TV I had reviewed almost a year ago. Incidentally, Thomson and Kodak are manufactured by the same company in India. About time the company fixed these long pending issues.
Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV - Picture quality: 8/10
UI issues aside, the picture quality of this TV is excellent for the price. The 4K IPS panel can get really bright and viewing angles are good too. It has good contrast, and details in dark areas in high contrast scenes in our test videos were clearly visible in most cases. But the colour tuning wasn’t all that great out of the box. Colours seemed muted at default settings, and I had to find and play around with the brightness, colour temperature and saturation level to make them pop. Post that, the picture quality improved significantly taking it closer to the best in this budget.
Unfortunately, tuning the finer aspects of the picture is a stressful task here. You need to switch to HDMI mode, find picture adjustments, adjust a few settings, get back to Netflix, Prime Video etc., see if the picture looks right. If not, repeat till it looks perfect. This is where the Vu Premium Android TV and Vu Cinema TV score much better as they allow 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 Hotstar or YouTube or an HDMI source like DTH, or simply when watching something via USB.
The Kodak 50CA7077 TV supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, and content encoded in those formats looks really good on this screen with excellent contrast and vibrant colours. Regular non-HDR 4K content looks sharp on this TV too with lively colours and ample detail. Same can be said about most 1080p Full HD videos. However, the sharpness starts to drop drastically for lower resolution content including 720p videos. 720p content is still watchable but I have seen other TVs from Vu and Xiaomi do better upscaling than what this Kodak is capable of. Anything lower than 720p looks flat and washed out, which is the case with most budget 4K TVs.
While 4K HDR content truly brings this screen to life, it also brings the processing hardware to its knees. Some 4K videos get jerky at times, and occasionally the stutter is a bit too conspicuous to ignore. I faced no such issues when playing 1080p content. I don’t want to indulge in too much geek talk about the TV’s processing hardware, but probably the lower clocked A53 cores here coupled with relatively less amount of RAM aren’t equipped to handle 4K playback seamlessly. The Vu Cinema TV too has 1.5 GB of RAM, but its higher clocked A55 cores, along with a more powerful Mali-470 MP GPU and far more optimised OS manage to crunch 4K HDR content with very little stutter. The Vu Premium TV with 2 GB RAM plays it stutter-free.
Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV - Audio quality: 7.5/10
A pair of bottom-firing speakers rated at 30 Watts RMS deliver Dolby-certified audio and they do a good job. In fact, I would say that this is arguably the best-sounding Kodak TV to date. Not only is the output loud and clear, but there is a fair amount of warmth in the sound too. There is good clarity in the vocals and the overall sound output is among the nicer I have heard on flat panel TVs. The only drawback being, there are very few sound adjustments one can easily access (barring sound presets) to tweak the audio further.
The speakers can get sufficiently loud and I could manage with 25 percent volume level for most parts, and never had to cross 50 percent during the course of my testing. The built-in speakers should take care of most of your general audio needs from watching news or sports to listening to music. If you want extra thump, you have a handful of audio outputs on this TV to plug in a soundbar or a speaker system. However, there is no analog audio out on this TV, so make sure the soundbar or speakers that you buy have either Bluetooth, HDMI or optical inputs.
Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV - Overall performance: 7/10
This TV takes about 45 seconds to boot up when you switch it on from the mains, which is average at best for Android TVs these days. But that’s not it, the TV always starts in HDMI mode after booting up, even if there’s no HDMI device connected. You have to hit the 'Home' button to take it to the Android home screen and that takes another 10 seconds or so, making the entire ordeal last close to one minute. But after that, if you switch it off and on from the remote, the TV comes back on in 5 seconds from standby mode.
As I had mentioned in the UI section, the 'Fast Boot' option is off by default, and you will need to dig deep in the menu from HDMI input to switch it on. These little drawbacks in the UI can really test your patience at times. And while we are on the subject, there are another couple of software glitches that you will have to deal with on and off. At times, the power button doesn’t respond when you look to switch off the TV. The same goes for the voice command key -- it brings up the virtual assistant but doesn’t accept voice commands. On other occasions, the buttons work perfectly.
(Also read: VU 43GA UltraAndroid Smart TV Review)
The modest processing hardware and unoptimised OS makes the TV a bit sluggish and apps take a bit longer to load, thus impacting the overall user experience. Kodak should really look to fix these software and UI issues through patches and OTA updates at the earliest. On the positive side, this Kodak TV can play almost all content smoothly through USB with the default player. If you need a more feature-rich player, you can use a third party app like VLC.
(Also read: Vu 55PM Premium Android TV Review)
Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV - Price and verdict
The Kodak 50CA7077 4K Android TV can be purchased on Flipkart for Rs 27,999 with a one year warranty. The 55-inch variant of the same sells for Rs 3,000 higher. While the pricing is competitive, it is in the same range as that of the Vu Premium TV that has similar picture quality but offers 2 GB RAM, double the internal storage and more importantly, a much more refined user interface. As compared to Xiaomi’s Mi TV 4X 50, the Kodak has better picture quality and sound, but the overall viewing experience is a tad smoother on the Xiaomi, courtesy of more RAM.
All said and done, the Kodak 50CA7077 is an unusual case. It does the difficult thing right, which is providing a very good panel in this budget. It loses out on a relatively simple task of choosing sufficiently powerful hardware to smoothly crunch 4K HDR content that its panel is capable of displaying with distinction. The company probably tried to cut one corner too many in that department to keep the pricing down.
But there is one aspect that is completely within the company’s control that can significantly improve the performance of this TV even with the existing hardware-software optimisation. If the company takes the efforts to squash a few bugs and improve the UI, this TV might score a higher rating, and could be one of the finest options under Rs 30,000 in India. IF they do.
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