Ultra HD or 4K is the flavour of the season when it comes to smart TVs. The Indian market is already flooded with 4K televisions from various brands and in various sizes going all the way up to 100-inches and beyond. Thomson has decided to stretch the boundaries at the other end of the size and budget spectrum with the launch of their UD9 40TH1000 model. Not only is it arguably the cheapest, but also the smallest 4K smart TV currently available in India.
But does Ultra HD resolution on a 40-inch screen actually make a difference? Let’s find out.
Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV Build and Design: 6/10
This Thomson TV sports a generic design with slim glossy black bezels around the screen. If you have seen any of their B9 series models, this looks exactly the same. The build quality isn’t the greatest and feels too plasticky. But then, this is not a phone that you would come in physical contact with every now and then. Also, given its price, not many would complain about it.
There is a power LED at the bottom right, and on close observation, one can literally see the circuit board it is mounted on. Now that’s pushing it a bit too far even if the company has to keep the price down.
Like most TVs, it can either be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled stands and screws. The pair of stands with a skid-proof base do a good job of holding the TV in place. Two USB ports and three HDMI ports can be found on the side of the TV, while all other input-output ports are located at the back facing downwards. They can be a tad hard to reach if you opt to wall-mount this TV. But given its modest size, it’s not as difficult as in case of some larger TVs that I have tested.
Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV Features and specifications: 7/10
The Thomson UD9 40TH1000 sports a 40-inch (102 cm) display with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. You don’t get an IPS panel here understandably but this one claims to support active HDR 10 for better viewing experience. The TV runs Android 7.0 with a Google Play Store as well as another third party app store.
The TV is powered by a dual-core processor with 1 GB RAM and 8 GB of internal storage, a chunk of which is taken up by the OS. A pair of stereo speakers rated at 20W RMS handle the audio output. Despite a dual core processor, there wasn’t any major lag in UI or functionality.
Since this is not an Android certified TV, it doesn’t comes with built-in Chromecast. You get an option to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet onto this TV. The upside of this not being a certified Android TV is that you get apps for all the major streaming services in India like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar etc. YouTube app is preinstalled and you can always install other compatible apps and streaming services like Sony LIV, Voot etc.
The TV UI is an improvement over what you get in the B9 and B9 Pro from the same company. The 40TH1000 has two generations more recent version of Android as compared to what you get in those series. Some UI elements and navigation are similar to those on the B9 Pro but overall it feels refined, and it is fairly easy to use even for a novice user. However, the bundled remote is exactly the same that you get with the older models, and I am not a fan of its build or button layout. Something that Thomson needs to address sooner than later. It is an age-old IR remote with no motion sensors or voice inputs.
Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV Connectivity options: 7.5/10
There are a fair amount of connectivity options that you get with this TV, some of which I have already touched upon earlier. The key ones being 3x HDMI ports, 2x USB ports, one RJ45 LAN port, 2x A/V in, coaxial audio out and a 3.5mm headphone jack. One of the HDMI ports also supports ARC. Like all smart TVs, it has built-in Wi-Fi that supports 802.11 b/g/n standards. There is no Bluetooth connectivity here. This TV can playback most video formats and even 4K videos through its USB ports.
Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV Picture quality: 6/10
Picture quality hasn’t exactly been a strong suit of Thomson TVs in the recent past and this TV isn’t any different despite its high-resolution panel. Some of you may be wondering what could possibly go wrong in a panel packed with so many pixels and with a higher than normal pixel density. Let me explain. 4K panels can be a double-edged sword. If the upscaling algorithm isn’t proper, any videos with less than 4K resolution can look washed out, even more than they would on a Full HD screen. I have seen very very few budget 4K TVs scale lower resolution videos well and this Thomson TV isn’t one of them.
If you choose to watch 4K content on it, it does look good. The picture looks sharp and colours pop out well. Anything with Full HD (1080p) resolution also looks good on this TV. But if you go any lower, it looks dull and washed out. So if you intend to buy this TV to watch TV channels on it, make sure you get an HD subscription as non-HD channels look completely flat. Even our 720p test videos that look pretty good on some of the Full HD 40-43-inch TVs that I have tested before, looked a tad inferior on this screen. So contrary to popular belief, a high-resolution display doesn’t necessarily make lower-res videos look better.
While I said that high-resolution videos looked good on this TV, the picture quality isn’t perfect even when playing 4K videos. The colour reproduction is good with a decent dynamic range in most cases but the contrast is far from perfect. It tends to make the darker areas in the scene (like shadows) a bit too dark and bright sections a bit too bright, thus losing a lot of detail in those areas. To make things worse, out of the box, the picture looks really bad on this TV, no matter what you play on it. Thankfully, this TV lets you tweak a bunch of picture settings to make it a lot better. Something the product or QC department of Thomson should have taken care of before launch.
After dozens of various permutations and combinations with different picture settings (and I am being modest with that number), the following offered best results on my review unit. In picture presets, set the Picture Mode to Standard and Colour Temperature to Normal. Drop the Backlight to about 40 percent and turn off DLC. Turning HDR on or off didn’t seem to make any difference during my testing, so you may leave it on. However, turn off the 4K Enhanced mode as the results are worse when turned on. Lastly, set the HDMI mode to Video and you are good to go. This makes the picture look significantly better on this TV. This should have ideally been the default mode out of the box.
Another thing about 4K TVs that I wish to point out is that you don’t get any noticeable visual benefits on screens as small as 40 or 43-inches. If you are looking to buy an Ultra HD TV, make sure it’s at least 48-inches (122 cm) or larger. If you have space or budget for only a 40 or 43-inch screen, you will be equally well served by a Full HD panel instead of 4K. You will hardly notice any difference in picture quality between the two. And you will end up saving a few thousand Rupees too that you may choose to invest in a speaker system or a soundbar.
Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV Audio quality: 4/10
Moving on to the audio output, the 40TH1000 has a pair of integrated stereo speakers that claim to deliver a total rated output of 20W RMS. Now, I do not expect much from speakers on LED TVs anyway but the sound output here didn’t even meet my low expectations. The sound was neither loud nor clear from most sources. This has been Thomson’s Achilles heels ever since they re-entered the Indian market and nothing has changed here. One issue that the company needs to address on a war footing in its next launch. Thankfully, the TV provides you with a couple of audio out options. So an external speaker or a soundbar is highly recommended.
Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV Overall performance: 7/10
The TV takes under 40 seconds to boot when you turn it on from the mains, which is slightly quicker than most smart TVs. When you switch the TV off from the remote (put it on standby) and turn it on again, it takes just 5 seconds to get back up which is excellent. That’s one feature I would love to see become a standard on all smart TVs. As of now, this is just the second TV other than iFFalcon, among those I have tested, that supports it.
Video file format support through USB is excellent. It played practically every file I threw at it without a hiccup through its default player, including H.265 encoded files and high bit-rate 4K videos. However, the default player is not feature rich and doesn’t support subtitles. Strangely, it also jumps by 5 percent directly rather than by 10-15 seconds when looking to skip ahead or go back in a video. To give you an example, if you are watching an hour long video, when you hit the forward or rewind button, it jumps 3-minutes straight. Anyway, this is not a major issue as you can easily install VLC or MX Player from the Play Store and you are sorted.
Speaking of apps, as I had mentioned earlier, all the major streaming services in India like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Voot, YouTube etc. work perfectly fine on this TV. Don’t expect the same finesse as you get on an Amazon Fire TV stick when browsing through the content but it’s functional and gets the job done. Prime Video seemed limited to 720p though while I could hit 1080p on Netflix and Hotstar. There is another minor bug with the Prime Video app. At times it gets stuck at an update screen when there is none available. To circumvent that, simply search for the Prime Video app on one of the app stores and open it from there. Thankfully, this issue arises occasionally and not every time.
Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV Verdict and Price in India
Last but most importantly, the price, which is the USP of this TV. The Thomson UD9 (40TH1000) 4K Smart TV can be purchased for just Rs 20,999 on Flipkart with a one year warranty. That makes it arguably the cheapest 4K Smart TV available in India currently. For its asking price, a lot of its shortcomings can be overlooked though not all (like audio). At that price point, this TV offers good value for money especially for its feature set and connectivity option. Picture quality is acceptable in that budget but not the greatest.
So if you are looking for a decent sized inexpensive 4K smart TV that supports all the popular streaming services in India, the Thomson 40TH1000 is a fair buy. But if picture quality is what you seek in this budget or a certified Android TV with a Chromecast built-in, you may consider the 40-inch iFFalcon 40F2A with Netflix support for a couple of thousands less or a larger 43-inch Mi TV 4A Pro for Rs 2,000 more. Both have Full HD panels but with better contrast and far better audio output than the Thomson along with other perks that an Android TV offers barring Prime Video support.
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