Smart televisions that sport affordable price tags, are becoming even better at running apps such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hotstar and more. That can only be good news for consumers. At first glance, the latest television by Vu does seem to be ticking off the checklist of what one would expect from a modern day smart television—it has an IPS panel, with 4K resolution, runs the Android TV software, you can do voice search and it claims to have a ‘built-in soundbar’. We reviewed the 43-inch TV (model number 43SU128), priced at Rs36,999. All seems good, then?

For starters, yes, as far as the design is concerned. The Vu 4K Android TV has a fairly thin bezel around the display, and the consistency of the black colour frame is only broken by the thin silver lines on the speakers placed below the screen. To set this up, you need a table almost as wide as the TV itself, which is because the two-part attachment of the table-top stand attaches near either end of the frame, beneath the screen. As far as the looks go, this TV looks much more expensive than what it’s price tag might suggest.

The display canvas is an IPS panel, and that is definitely a good spec because IPS displays do reproduce rich colours and tend to have better viewing angles than standard LCD displays—this is important in an home environment, because not everyone is sitting directly in front of the screen all the time. But even the best of display panels can only do as well as the image processing algorithms that work in the background.

In the case of the Vu 4K Android TV, you really need to put in a lot of effort to get the picture quality close to accurate. There are issues with how increasing the backlight level leads to colours getting washed out completely—you compromise illumination by keeping this low so that colours look better. Then there is the matter of the gamma. And for a fact, we are yet to wrap our heads around the fact that the difference between the gamma “low" and the gamma “medium" setting is far too wide, and neither looks ideal, irrespective of the content you’re watching.

On a more positive note, the sharpness levels are great, and fast moving visuals look fairly okay.

Content that is originally in 4K looks good, while the lower resolution content (such as broadcast channels) are processed well enough to look fine.

One of the brightest features of the Vu 4K Android TV is the Android TV platform, which is based on Android 7.0. Unlike a lot of smart TV implementations in this price range, the Android TV platform is slick, easy to use, looks pleasing to the eye and runs almost all the video streaming and TV apps that you’ll need—Netflix, Sony Liv, Hotstar, Alt Balaji, Zee5, Hooq, Voot, and Ditto TV, to name a few. These apps run smoothly, and the experience is seamless. The only sore point is that Amazon Video is missing from this list.

Then there is the matter of the ‘built-in soundbar’, which is how Vu refers to the speaker cluster beneath the display. The reality is that just because it is designed to look like a soundbar doesn’t make it a soundbar. There are two 10-watt audio speakers inside, but no subwoofer—the latter is generally an important ingredient of any soundbar setup. The audio that you hear from these is mostly flat, and while there is enough clarity to take care of the spoken, there is no bass to speak of.

A rather interesting add-on is the voice search feature. This means Vu bundles two remotes with the TV—one is a standard remote full of buttons, and the second is the voice remote that has only minimal buttons.

For a TV that does so well in some respects, the Vu 4K Android TV does have glaring shortcomings elsewhere still. That does bring the competition into reckoning, which includes the Mi TV 4A 43 (Rs22,999; great Full HD picture quality) and the TCL P6US 4K TV (Rs34,990; 4K with HDR and super slim design). For anyone who doesn’t necessarily want an Android TV smart interface or a 4K panel, those two options do represent great options.