Over the past 12 months or so, I have had the chance to review almost every series of smart TVs from Thomson in India. Though they were highly affordable and you got your money’s worth, their performance wasn’t anything great to take on the competing products from popular mid-range brands in India like Xiaomi or Vu. Also, there was one important thing missing in their portfolio — a series of official Android TVs. But not anymore. Thomson’s OATH 9000 series looks to not just fill the void but also make an emphatic statement in the competitive mid-range smart TV market in India. We got the 49-inch variant from that series for review. Let’s see how it performs.
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 4K Android TV — Build and Design: 7/10
The Thomson 49 OATH 9000 looks decent but has nothing eye-catching about its appearance in particular. The top and side bezels are quite slim but the bottom bezel is way thicker than what we are used to these days as it hosts an integrated soundbar. More on that later. The TV can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled stands. The necessary screws and brackets are provided in the package. The stands are made of solid metal with a skid-proof base and holds the TV firmly in place.
Some TV companies have been doing a smart thing these days with the placement of connectivity ports. Realising that they would be hard to reach on large TVs when wall mounted, the ports are placed closer to one edge of the screen instead of at the centre. Thomson has attempted to do something similar but hasn’t exactly nailed it. Just one HDMI port and one USB port are placed on the side panel along with a LAN port. Rest of the ports are placed along the bottom edge which is not easy to reach without a bit of gymnastics. Also, the HDMI and USB ports on the side are placed too close to each other despite there being ample vacant space on the panel. So when I plugged an Amazon Fire TV Stick into the HDMI port, a part of the USB port was covered and hence unusable. Small things but they matter.
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 4K Android TV — Features and specifications: 9/10
The Thomson 49 OATH 9000 has a 49-inch Ultra HD (4K) panel with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and HDR10 compliance. The company has used an 8-bit LG IPS panel with Direct LED backlighting. The rated response time is 6.5 ms which is the same as that of the Mi TV 4X Pro (Review). A pair of stereo speakers enclosed within the bar claims to deliver 30 Watts RMS audio output.
(Also Read: Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 40-inch 4K Smart TV: Great value or great gimmick?)
This TV is powered by a quad-core CPU and Mali T860 GPU. It has a generous 2.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage, a chunk of which is taken up by the Android Oreo OS. That’s 25 percent more RAM and double the internal storage of the Mi TV 4X Pro. The specs are good enough for a smooth, lag-free operation. Since the TV has built-in Chromecast, it lets you cast videos from supported apps like YouTube, Hotstar, Sony LIV and many more. But most importantly, this Thomson TV boasts of something that the Xiaomi and Vu official Android TVs do not have — Netflix compatibility. It has the Netflix app pre-installed as well as a hotkey on the remote to start it.
The wireless remote control here is quite interesting. For starters, the build quality is excellent and the quality of keys is perfectly fine too. It is far from minimalistic and you probably won’t use half the keys present, but it doesn’t skip any necessary features as is the case with Xiaomi (no mute or settings buttons). It has a dedicated key to activate voice commands for Google Voice Search feature. You also get dedicated buttons to start Netflix and Google Play Store. A pair of AAA batteries needed to run the remote have been bundled.
What I found interesting and weird about the remote is that it uses a combination of Bluetooth and IR (infrared). The power button works only on IR and the voice command button works only on Bluetooth, while the rest of the major functions can be accessed using either of the wireless protocols. So you have to point the remote towards the TV to switch it on or off while you can point it anywhere when clicking other keys. I don’t see the need for IR when there’s Bluetooth present here.
What’s even stranger, the technique to pair the remote with the TV via Bluetooth isn’t mentioned in the bundled user manual. But if you happen to spot the E-Manual on the TV and locate the necessary instructions, you will know how to go about pairing it. Else, you will be stuck with IR. Maybe that’s why there’s IR. The technique is fairly simple if you know how. While adding Remote and Accessories in the settings menu, you need to keep the Home and left direction key on the remote pressed till the remote gets detected. Post that you are good to go.
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 4K Android TV — Connectivity and User Interface: 8/10
Placement of ports notwithstanding, you get a good spread of connectivity options on this Thomson TV. You get 3x HDMI ports, 2x USB ports, one RJ45 LAN port, one Composite in, Optical out and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. One of the HDMI ports supports ARC. The TV is Bluetooth enabled, so you can send the output to a Bluetooth soundbar or headphones.
As you know by now, there is Chromecast built-in to cast videos directly to the TV from compatible apps. The TV supports all popular Wi-Fi standards including AC dual band. Being an Android TV, it runs Android 8.0 Oreo with stock UI and has Google Play Store pre-installed along with a bunch of Google apps. During my interaction with a senior official of the company, I was assured that the Thomson OATH 9000 series of TVs will get an Android Pie update later this year.
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 4K Android TV — Picture quality: 7.5/10
The picture quality on Thomson 49 OATH 9000 is noticeably better than any of the earlier Thomson TVs. The LG IPS panel dishes out good picture quality that is at par with Vu’s 55-OA TV but cannot outdo the 10-bit panel on the Mi TV 4X Pro. 4K videos look excellent on this TV with vibrant colours and good contrast. 1080p Full HD videos look good too and so do most of the 720p videos. Understandably, anything lower feels noticeably washed out.
When playing 4K videos, the picture looks sharp and the colour reproduction is impressive. Colours feel natural in most cases and pleasant to look at. The contrast could have been better as it tends to skip details in dark areas in certain scenes. It is still better than most TVs priced around 30-35K. The company hasn’t really played up its HDR capabilities and there's just a passing mention of HDR10 compliance. I have learnt to keep my HDR expectations low with 8-bit panels and there were no real surprises here on that front.
You do have picture adjustment options like brightness, colour, contrast, backlight and many more but they are buried deep inside. Generally on Android TVs, under settings, you get an option for the picture adjustment. For some reason, that option is missing on this TV. While on the Android home screen, pressing the settings button on the remote does nothing. To access the picture settings, you need to get off the home screen and choose a different input source. There you can bring up the Picture menu by hitting the settings button on the remote. Again, the location of the picture settings changes slightly from source to source.
To put it simply, if you are watching something through HDMI or USB, you can adjust the picture, but if you are watching something on online streaming services like Hotstar, Netflix or YouTube, you have no access to picture settings. Thomson really needs to fix this asap with an update. It would be great if they can take a leaf out of Vu’s book where you can simply press the settings button on the remote and adjust the picture then and there irrespective of the app or source.
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 4K Android TV — Audio quality: 8/10
I have never liked the audio output on any of the Thomson TVs till date. They have consistently scored poorly on sound clarity as well as loudness. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Thomson 49 OATH 9000. As I mentioned earlier, this TV has a pair of stereo speakers in the soundbar like enclosure below the screen that delivers a total rated output of 30 Watts RMS. Finally, the company has addressed the audio issue and got it right. Of course, do not expect a home theatre like performance or even comparable to a discrete soundbar with a subwoofer. But for a flat screen TV, the sound output is very good.
It is not the loudest I have heard but most of the things are clearly audible around the 50 percent mark. The Netflix app on the TV was one of the few exceptions though. There I had to turn the volume all the way up to 100 percent and it was just about adequate for a mid-sized room. Interestingly, when I tried playing the same Netflix video through an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, the output was a lot louder and clearer. Other than that, the overall sound quality of the TV was pretty good with clear vocals and a fair amount of bass too (of course, not the thumping kind that can shake your window panes).
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 4K Android TV — Overall performance: 8/10
The TV takes about 30 seconds to boot up and get to the home screen when you switch the power on from the mains, which is swift for smart TVs these days. Post that, if you switch it off and on from the remote control, the TV comes back on in 3 seconds flat from standby mode. This quick start from standby is a great option to have and unlike Xiaomi TVs, you don’t have to endure almost a minute long ordeal every time you switch the TV off and on from the remote. Now for some reason, this quick start option was disabled by default on this TV. Luckily, I found it on the menu after a bit of exploration and switched it on. Hard to explain why it wasn’t on by default.
Video file format support through USB was excellent and it played every file with various codecs I threw at it smoothly through its default player, including 4K videos. You can always install a different player like VLC from the Google Play Store in case it fails to play something. You can control the playback using the dedicated playback buttons on the remote. This USB playback test is getting almost redundant with official Android TVs and I may drop it soon.
Being an Android TV, there is no Amazon Prime Video app yet, but it should soon be there. I have been unofficially informed that we can expect it as early as this August. Whenever that happens, and given that this TV is Netflix compliant already, it should be in a position to play all the major streaming services without the need for separate hardware like a FireTV Stick. That’s a big plus.
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 4K Android TV — Verdict and Price in India
Thomson 49 OATH 9000 Android TV is priced at Rs 34,999 with a one year warranty and available through Flipkart. The 55-inch variant with exact features is priced just Rs 4,000 higher. At that price, OATH 9000 series of TVs offer good audio-video performance, broad apps compatibility, Netflix compliance out of the box and excellent value for money. Only if Thomson can fix those minor UI niggles (picture settings) soon, this can be a very good all-round product.
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