Konka U5-series 4K smart TV review: The (street) price is about right
Konka’s 50-inch U5-series smart TV is a good entry-level set. It’s not a great entry-level set, and there are far better TVs at its $450 suggested retail price. But this TV delivers a decent picture most of the time, and we’re already seeing significant discounts that render it a decent buy as a secondary TV for a kitchen or other room where it won’t be the primary source of entertainment.
Design and featuresThe Konka model 55U55A reviewed here is a 50-inch-class 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) TV with a 60Hz refresh rate. It has a very narrow bezel and looked good sitting on our test bench. You’ll also encounter 43-, 55-, 65- and 75-inch iterations at retail. Our test unit was thin and relatively light, so using its 200mm x 200 mm VESA mount point to hang it on the wall shouldn’t require robust hardware. The legs are standard V-shaped units that attach via two bolts, a superior alternative to the screws you’ll encounter on many TVs in this price range.
The port selection includes four HDMI 2.0b ports (one supporting ARC—the audio return channel—but not eARC). There are three USB ports, coax for cable and antenna connections, ethernet, and a headphone jack. Wireless home network connectivity is provided by an 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter, and Bluetooth 5.0 is onboard for wireless audio streaming. The latter features is a pleasant perquisite at this price point.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart TVs, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product. Konka Konka’s U5-series smart TV uses the Android TV operating system and supports Chromecast and, of course, thousands of apps.
My one minor issue with the ports is the way they’re inset: This made it a bit difficult to plug in the oversized USB memory stick that stores some of our test images and videos. It’s doable, just not as easy as it could be. There also seemed to be some HDMI compatibility issues that I’ll discuss in the performance section, below.
User interface and remote control Mentioned in this article TCL 5-series 4K UHD LCD TV (43-inch class, model 43S525) Read TechHive's reviewSee it The Konka U5 series uses the Android TV operating system with all the general goodness that entails: Support for Google Assistant, Chromecast, tons of apps, and more. Konka doesn’t add a lot of stuff to the default homepage, but it did provide a DLNA-aware media player, which is something I use quite a bit.
The remote rests comfortably in your hand, offers voice control via the aforementioned Google Assistant, and is generally well laid out. If I had a complaint, it’s that that you can’t stray very far off axis of the TV’s infrared receiver or it won’t work.
That’s a common complaint with less-expensive TVs. You could say the onboard mic obviates the need for pointing the remote at all, but old habits die hard and you don’t want to talk to your technology all the time.
Konka Konka’s remote for the U5 is nicely laid out, and generally as good as it gets at this price point.
PerformanceI wasn’t expecting image miracles, given the U5-series’ street prices, and I didn’t get any. This TV does however, deliver an overall picture that’s relatively close to the 43-inch TCL 5-series Roku TV I keep in the bedroom, which was selling on Amazon for $230 at press time).
The U5’s color is reasonably accurate, although it’s obvious that quantum dots are not in play here. That didn’t bother me, but I did find myself ruing the lack of overall color saturation at times. Tweaking, and there are a number of tweaks available (hue, white balance, etc.), didn’t improve things much. It’s basically in the type of backlighting involved, which Konka says is full array.
The other thing I missed was any sort of motion compensation. Fast pans juddered and even slow pans stuttered quite a bit. Those types of scenes are relatively rare in real-world content, but you’ll notice when they happen. It’s one of my pet peeves, regardless of what Hollywood thinks.
Screen uniformity, on the other hand, is good; contrast is decent; and there was just a bit more pop to HDR content than the same content viewed as SDR. Blacks are so-so, as they are with most lower-end LED-backlit LCD TVs. Viewing angles are rather narrow, but the sound was surprisingly adequate—not overly tinny and with a hint of bass. I was expecting much worse.
My biggest issue with this model in the U5 series is the that HDR handshaking between my Oppo and Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players was off. Grays turned pinkish or purplish. Turning off HDR on the players allowed me to play our test content without the tint, but that’s obviously not an ideal solution. Playing HDR10 content from a USB stick didn’t suffer the same issue, so I’m fairly certain it’s in the HDMI implementation.
Konka The Konka U5 delivers a decent picture for general viewing, but the lack of motion compensation and color saturation relegate it to merely average for an entry-level TV.
I talked to Konka about this, and the techs in China said they couldn’t replicate the problem. Fair enough, my test unit might be defective or damaged. A promised replacement unit hadn’t appeared in the time frame we allowed. As it stands, I’ll simply warn you to check your disc player’s compatibility with the Konka U5 before you toss the receipt for your TV purchase. If a replacement evaluation unit solves the issue, I’ll be back with an update.
Long story short: With most material, watching the 50-inch U5 was a pleasant if not scintillating experience. Here’s hoping we get one of Konka’s higher-end Q7 Pro quantum dot TVs in the near future, so we can see what the company is capable of.
ConclusionConsidering it’s an Android TV, has a more than decent remote and a good if not stellar picture, I’d consider the 50-inch Konka U5 if you find it on sale. It’s dirt cheap at discount and Bluetooth at this price is a nice find. As a general rule, however, we advise that greater happiness ensues if you prioritize picture quality. And there’s a lot of competition in the entry-level smart TV market right now.
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