Last month, we reviewed the most affordable 4K Smart TV in India from Thomson that turned out to be a mixed bag. Today, we take a look at their most affordable Smart TV, the 32-inch B9 Pro that doesn’t boast of any extraordinary features but offers a little bit of everything at a very attractive price. Let’s see what you get for less than Rs 12,000 from the French brand.
Thomson B9 Pro Smart TV – Build and Design: 6.5/10
The Thomson B9 Pro looks exactly like its 40-inch 4K model, just smaller (obviously). You get glossy black plastic bezels running around the edges of the 32-inch screen. They aren’t overly thick but certainly not the slimmest bezels I have seen even on budget TVs. Simply put, a basic design — nothing bad, but nothing remarkable either. It can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled stands. A pair of plastic stands with rubber feet do a good job of holding the TV in place.
Two USB ports and coaxial AV inputs can be found on the side of the TV, while HDMI ports and other input-output ports are located along its lower edge. Given the size of the TV, neither of the ports are hard to reach even if you wall-mount it.
Thomson B9 Pro Smart TV – Features and Specifications: 7/10
The Thomson B9 Pro has a 32-inch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and LED backlighting. The company claims to have used an A+ grade Samsung panel here with 450 nits brightness and 60Hz refresh rate. They haven’t specified the panel type but it surely isn’t IPS and seems like a VA panel. A pair of stereo speakers rated at 20 Watts RMS takes care of audio output. This isn’t a certified Android TV but its UI is based on an older version of Android (5.1.1).
The TV is powered by a quad-core processor with 1 GB RAM which is sufficient to run things smoothly at HD resolution. There was no noticeable lag in navigation during my testing. The UI is fairly easy to use. But this isn’t a certified Android TV and you miss out the perks that you get with it such as a cleaner UI and built-in Chromecast.
On the bright side, you get apps for even Amazon Prime Video and Netflix for this Thomson TV among others. The bundled remote is exactly the same that you get with all Thomson models that I have tested over the past year and half. It is functional but nothing great. It’s an old-school IR remote with no motion sensors or voice inputs.
Thomson B9 Pro Smart TV – Connectivity options: 8/10
You get a more than a decent spread of connectivity options here with all the key bases covered. You get 3x HDMI ports, 2x USB port, one RJ45 LAN port, 2x A/V inputs, a coaxial out and a headphone out. Good enough for a budget TV like this. Like all smart TVs, the B9 Pro has built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n compatibility and connects at 2.4 GHz. Setting up and connecting to a Wi-Fi network was as easy as it is on any Android smartphone.
Thomson B9 Pro Smart TV – Picture quality: 7/10
I will cut straight to the chase. The picture quality on the Thomson B9 Pro isn’t jaw-dropping but pretty good for a TV priced under 12K. This is an HD ready TV, and I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular here and what I got was more than acceptable in this segment. The colour reproduction is good and colours feel natural in most cases but the contrast is not that great. It tends to lose a lot of detail in darker and overly bright areas, especially in high contrast scenes, something that’s a common thing in entry-level panels. One thing I can surely say is that the overall picture quality is a marked improvement over its non-pro variant (B9) from the same company. So a step in the right direction.
Skin tones look flat on this screen, especially when watching non-HD channels. This TV does let you adjust the picture settings. You get options to tweak brightness, contrast, colour, sharpness and backlight among other things in addition to picture presets. That does help to a certain extent but don’t expect things to turn on their head. However, when watching HD (720p) content or better, the picture does look pretty good on this screen.
Thomson B9 Pro Smart TV – Audio quality: 6/10
The TV has a pair of stereo speakers that claim to deliver a total output of 20 Watts RMS. If you compare it to other TVs with 20 Watts rating, the sound feels a lot less powerful here. It is reasonably clear for flat panel display standard but it isn’t loud enough and completely lacks bass. It isn’t as bad as the one you get on its 40-inch 4K variant and just about suffices for regular TV viewing like sports, news, soaps etc. when you bump it up to around 50 percent or beyond.
If you intend to watch stuff like Game of Thrones where audio plays a significant role in the overall experience, you might as well plug in a soundbar or some other external speaker system as the built-in speakers just don’t cut it. Given the presence of popular audio-out ports on this TV, that won’t be a tough ask.
Thomson B9 Pro Smart TV - Overall performance: 7/10
The TV takes about 30 seconds to boot up which is a good 10-15 seconds quicker than most smart TVs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the quick resume from standby feature found on its 4K model which would start back up from standby mode in just about 5 seconds. As I had mentioned earlier, the UI is fairly clean and easy to use. The only issue being the button on the remote that brings up the interface is almost inconspicuous. Such an important function key should have been more prominent and better placed than at the bottom right corner of the remote without any text below it.
Video file format support through USB is excellent. It played every file with various popular codecs I threw at it smoothly through its default player. The biggest surprise here was that the TV could easily play 4K videos through USB without a hiccup. Of course, this is a 768p screen and the videos are scaled accordingly. You can control the playback using the bundled remote. Alternately, you can also install VLC Player for better playback support and interface.
Speaking of installing apps, the Thomson B9 Pro doesn’t have Google Play store but comes with a third party app store that provides you with apps for all major streaming services like Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony LIV, Voot etc. YouTube app was preinstalled on the TV. While most services worked fine here with serviceable navigation, Prime Video app was horribly buggy. It would let you log into the service and show you the entire catalogue but simply wouldn’t let you play most of it. There wasn’t any update available for the app during the course of my testing.
Thomson B9 Pro Smart TV – Verdict and Price in India
The Thomson B9 Pro can be purchased on Flipkart for just Rs 10,999 with a one year warranty. That is a great price for its performance and the variety of connectivity options that this TV offers. Though this is a fair buy, it wouldn’t be my first choice pick for a specific reason — there’s something better for the same price.
The iFFALCON 32F2A (Review) from TCL’s sub-brand now sells for Rs 1,000 more and it is a certified Android TV that comes packed with all the perks like smooth and clean UI, much more recent version of Android, Play Store and Chromecast built-in. And it’s Netflix-complaint too, something that many certified Android TVs cannot brag about.
The picture quality is very similar for both TVs and the Thomson does have an extra HDMI and USB port each. Also, the iFFALCON doesn’t have Prime Video app yet. Ironically, there’s one on Thomson but doesn’t function. So in many ways, the two TVs are evenly matched. But a built-in Chromecast, Netflix certification and a much better sound makes the iFFALCON a better deal overall.