Ameya DalviOct 21, 2020 11:06:33 IST
Overall Rating: 3.8/5
Price: Rs 33,999
Popular phone maker Nokia tested waters in the smart TV segment last year with the launch of their 55-inch model with integrated JBL speakers. They released a couple of other screen sizes in that series earlier this year. Now, at the start of the online shopping season in India, the company has launched a brand-new series of Android TVs with six different screen sizes ranging from 32 to 65 inches. This time, audio duty has been handed over to the popular Japanese brand, Onkyo. And the pricing looks a bit more aggressive than that of their predecessors. We received the new 50-inch model for review. Let’s see how it fares in a highly competitive segment.
Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV - Design and connectivity: 8/10
The new Nokia TV looks quite elegant, with extremely narrow bezels on three sides and an integrated Onkyo soundbar along the bottom edge. The soundbar is covered with a grey fabric mesh with a silver Nokia logo at the centre and a broad white LED below it. You also find Onkyo branding near the right edge. The TV can be wall-mounted or placed on a surface using the bundled metal stands which are shaped a bit differently than usual. The wall mount kit is provided in the package too.
The necessary screws are bundled, along with a 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 2.0 ports, optical audio out, headphone out, A/V in and a LAN port. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4 GHz WiFi. Support for 5 GHz WiFi networks has been given a skip.
While most of the design elements about the TV stand out, the placement of connectivity ports is not amongst them. The ports face the side of the TV, which is good, but they are located a foot and a quarter inwards from the edge, making them quite hard to reach once you wall-mount the TV. A lot of budget TVs commit the same mistake. Ideally, the ports should be placed no more than 6 inches away from the edge.
Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV - Features and specifications: 7.5/10
The Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV has a 50-inch VA panel with an Ultra HD (4K) resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and a 60 Hz refresh rate. The panel has a rated brightness of 380 nits, and HDR support is limited to HDR10 and HLG. No support for Dolby Vision or HDR10+ here, which is a step down from their previous series, that supported the former. The sound output has doubled here; it is now rated at 48 Watts RMS with support for Dolby Digital Plus. Onkyo handles the audio, and has done an admirable job in that department. More on that in the Audio section.
This TV is powered by a quad-core processor with four ARM Cortex A55 cores and Mali-470 MP GPU. Each of the four CPU cores can throttle between 700 MHz to 1100 MHz. You get 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of internal storage, a chunk of which is taken up by the official Android Pie 9.0 OS. You are left with 9 GB space for your apps and data, which is a little lower than usual. 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.
The bundled remote control is fairly compact and minimal, but doesn’t miss out on any important buttons. The build quality is pretty decent too. It operates on IR and Bluetooth both. The power button on the remote communicates with the TV using IR when switching it on or off, while the rest of the functions operate over Bluetooth once you pair the remote with the TV. It is voice-enabled, and you can bring up the Google Assistant by pressing the corresponding key to issue voice commands. It works smoothly, without any delay.
The remote has hotkeys for Netflix and Zee5, along with Home and Back keys, input selection, volume control, a mute button, settings and a D-pad. The key press feels a bit springy, and the locations of certain keys could have been better. Case in point, the Home and Back keys should have been next to each other for smoother navigation, rather than Back and Input keys.
Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV - User interface: 7/10
This Nokia TV runs official Android Pie 9.0 and has near-stock user interface without any third party launcher. It is simple, easy to use but feels slightly sluggish at times. You have the usual row of your favourite installed apps, the shortcuts for which you can add, remove or move around. Other rows display last played or suggested content from various online streaming services. The TV comes preloaded with apps for Netflix, Prime Video and certain Google services.
Interestingly, though there is a hotkey for Zee5 on the remote, the app hasn’t been preinstalled on the TV. This may seem a little weird, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Pressing the key takes you to the Zee5 app page on the Google Play Store, from where you can choose to download it if you wish to. The Play Store also gives you access to thousands of other popular apps. There’s hardly any bloatware on the TV, and yet you have a GB or two less free space compared to other TVs with 16 GB internal storage. This is quite strange.
The sound and picture adjustments menu has been modified, but it’s not too hard to find your way around. It is not the most intuitive, but most importantly, it is accessible everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you are viewing something on an HDMI source like DTH or watching something on an OTT app like Netflix or YouTube, you can bring it up by pressing the ‘Settings’ button. The menu could have been better designed, without the need to unnecessarily go a layer or two deeper to access a particular setting.
The overall OS is also an update or two away from being stutter-free and optimised. The Prime Video app tends to misbehave at times, with the content pausing a few seconds after you hit the button. I also noticed a very unusual issue in certain shows/movies on Netflix and Hotstar, where the audio and video were slightly out of sync. The same content did not exhibit the issue when played on other Android TVs.
Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV - Picture quality: 7/10
The picture quality on the Nokia 50TAUHDN is above average, but not the best in the segment. Out of the box, the picture is on the cooler side, and changing the colour temperature to warm makes a big difference instantly. The colours then appear much closer to natural than at default settings. You do need to play around with the saturation and sharpness to make the picture look better and dig a little deeper to find the specific options for other picture adjustments.
After the necessary tweaks to the picture, the colours look pleasant, and the contrast is fairly good when viewing Ultra HD or Full HD SDR content. In our test videos, while details in darker areas in high contrast scenes were visible for the most part, certain spots appeared darker than ideal. This TV is HDR10 compliant but content encoded in that format on Amazon Prime Video looks erratic at times, especially in darker scenes and in shadows. The contrast seems too aggressive, even with ‘Dynamic Contrast’ off and the picture looks a bit too dark.
The TV doesn’t support Dolby Vision, and content encoded in that format on Netflix plays in HDR10. The contrast there is a little better than in the case of Prime Video – though nowhere close to perfect – but the colours feel a tad boosted and you need to tweak them again. It feels like Nokia has cut a corner too many in this department to keep the price down, but then, the price isn’t drastically lower than its predecessor.
Interestingly, 4K SDR content looks much better on this TV and most Full HD (1080p) videos scale well too, with fairly accurate colours and a good amount of detail. I can’t say the same about 720p videos though, that appear softer than usual. Anything with a resolution lower than 720p looks washed out on this screen, but that’s true for most 4K TVs. The viewing angles are pretty good for a VA panel, but there is a slight colour shift when watching content from sharp angles, as expected.
After having experienced this Nokia TV long enough, it doesn’t seem to have a bad panel, but feels like a case of lack of software optimisation and rendering. The company may not be able to turn things on their head magically, but should be able to fix a lot of things via future software updates. Clearly, the company focused its resources on the audio department. So let’s see how good it truly is.
Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV - Audio quality: 9/10
The sound output on this TV is definitely its piece de resistance. I will go to the extent of saying that it has arguably the best sound output on TVs in the sub-40K budget. It not only surpasses the sound quality of the Hisense A71 model with ease (which is commendable), it also goes past that of the Vu Cinema TV, which we rated as the best in this segment, until now. It supports Dolby Digital Plus standard.
Onkyo has done a fabulous job here with their ‘QuatroX’ speakers that include a pair of full range drivers rated at 30 Watts RMS and a pair tweeters (for better highs) that deliver an additional 18 Watts RMS, thus taking the total output to 48 Watts. And these are not just numbers. The sound does feel powerful, with great clarity in vocals and a solid punch in lows. The bass here is not just for the specsheet, and though not thunderous, it does provide ample warmth and a noticeable thump in the sound. Practically anything from sports to music to movies is pleasing to the ears on this TV. So much so that, for once I actually enjoyed watching the lobby scene from The Matrix on TV speakers.
A quick reality check: the sound output here cannot beat a decent midrange soundbar with a subwoofer, especially the bass. But this is one of the rare TVs that eliminate the need for an entry-level soundbar, which in itself is an achievement. However, in the future, if you wish to plug in a better soundbar or a speaker system, Nokia has provided you with a handful of audio outputs on this TV including HDMI ARC, Optical out, Bluetooth 5.0 and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV - Overall performance: 6.5/10
The TV takes over 45 seconds to boot up when you switch it on from the mains, which is on the slower side for certified Android TVs. Post that, it takes you to the channel tuner, which is pretty much redundant in India, post digitisation. You have to press the back key to go to the Android home screen. I had to endure it every single time, and couldn’t find a way to do away with this unnecessary irritant; yet another thing for the software team to work on. Post that, if you switch it off and on from the remote, the TV comes back on in just a couple of seconds from standby mode, like most smart TVs these days.
The TV is plagued with minor software bugs here and there, with apps shutting down abruptly at times or the TV losing WiFi connectivity despite a strong network. As I touched upon earlier, the Prime Video app needs a fix and so do the audio/video sync issues. The default media player for playing content from USB drives also needs a tweak. It jumps a bit too far ahead and back when navigating the video; 4% of the length of the video to be precise. So, if you are playing a movie that's a little over 2 hours long, it jumps by 5 minutes when looking to scrub in the video, instead of 10 or 30 seconds.
Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV - Price and verdict
The Nokia 50TAUHDN Smart TV can be purchased on Flipkart for a price of Rs 33,999 with a one year warranty. For that price, you get a TV with decent picture quality, arguably the best sound output in the segment (half a star extra in the overall rating just for that) and a wide variety of connectivity options. It is held back by a bunch of software bugs, that if the company chooses to fix soon enough, can make this TV a much better product.
When it comes to pure picture quality, you have better options in other Android TVs like the Hisense A71, Vu Cinema TV or even the Kodak 50CA7077 (Review), and they also support Dolby Vision. The UI is noticeably better as well on the first two. But if audio quality on the TV is the most important parameter for you, then buying this Nokia TV would certainly be a sound decision.
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