The price of an average smartphone, according to an IDC report, is about ₹11,000. This amount of money gets you an LCD display spanning about 5.5-inches diagonally, 4G and WiFi capabilities, about 4GB of RAM and if you’re really lucky, a good set of sounding speakers. And of course, the Android OS.
Affordable smart TVs are starting to populate this price point, with display sizes peaking at about 32-inches.
And the device I’m reviewing here, the recently launched Daiwa D32SBAR, even comes with a soundbar.
Daiwa is a homegrown brand of Videotex — an OEM and ODM company specialised in making display panels for TVs for the last 33 years. The Daiwa brand came into existence three years ago, with the ambition of making products offering “ground-breaking technology" at affordable prices.
The smart TV comes with a spec-sheet similar to the smallest Mi TV in the market. Its display has a resolution of 1,366x768, which means it’s not a full-HD panel, and a peak brightness of 300 nits. It is powered by a 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 quad-core processor paired with a gig of RAM and it runs a mobile version of the previous generation of Android (Oreo). The aforementioned built-in soundbar has two speakers with a combined power output of 2x10W.
Build and design
The TV comes with an in-built bracket for mounting on your wall. If you’re not into that, it comes with tiny legs for placing it on a surface. In terms of looks, this is not a ramp-walking model—Daiwa has gone for a function-over-fashion design that blends in with nearly everything, it’s that generic. There are no metal accents or any sort of blend you have come to expect from a Mi TV.
At this price point, you can’t really expect a bezel-less TV either. So even though it comes with a chunky soundbar at the bottom, it gets a pass from me.
The so-called ‘soundbar’ is good for watching movies, as the mids are extremely loud. But since the low frequencies crackle a bit at high volumes, I wouldn’t recommend listening songs on it.
In terms of connectivity, the TV comes with three HDMI and two USB ports. It also has singular RF, AV, optical ports and LAN ports along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a microSD card expansion slot. The TV comes with WiFi connectivity, but it doesn’t support 5GHz band, so you wouldn’t be able to make full use of your high-speed router. I found this a bit disappointing because even though the device doesn’t reproduce high-quality content, I would want it to stream whatever it could a bit faster.
The display quality is average at best as it can’t reproduce high-resolution content from Netflix that we have started taking for granted. It can handle wide colour gamut (NTSC 90%), so colour reproduction is actually pretty good. The LED-backlit panel was had good enough to counter bright ambient light. The viewing angles are good, but the contrast ratio left a lot to be desired. But again, like most of its shortcomings, it is passable at this price point.
The TV uses a Daiwa’s custom UI based on Android Oreo’s mobile platform and not Android TV. As a result, the apps it offers had been originally designed for smartphones, so using them through a TV remote is just cumbersome, especially Netflix.
I assume Daiwa knew of this and so it came up with a workaround of ‘Air mouse’. Air mouse essentially lets you control your TV with a cursor using your smartphone’s gyroscope. So instead of using the bundled remote, you can move around your mobile in the air to navigate through the UI.
While I did find it useful, it did occur to me that they could have somehow fitted this functionality into the remote itself. Speaking of the remote, it has way too many buttons, many of which are shortcuts that you’d never be bothered to use. I ended up using my smartphone to control the TV, as it even gave me the ability to use its QWERTY keyboard to search or feed in my login details.
The bouquet of apps is decent—you get nearly every popular streaming service — be it Netflix, Prime Video, Voot or AltBalaji. I do not use a set-top box, so I couldn’t gauge its performance in that regard. And just in case you have an MP4 copy of a movie or a video on your smartphone, you can use the e-Share functionality to send things across. Just don’t forget to plug in a microSD card because 8GB of internal storage wouldn’t be enough for you.
Given what it has to offer, I think the Daiwa D32SBAR is essentially a ₹10,000 smartphone without a SIM slot on really strong steroids. I would recommend it to college students or freshers who live alone and have saved a tiny amount of money to buy a TV.