This is why you can’t do HDR on a budget


In the past few months we have seen the launch of several TVs. We have witnessed Kodak and Thomson exit AOSP (Android Open Source Platform) and go to the Android TV bandwagon. OnePlus launched its range of budget and midrange TVs. Nokia went big with a 65-inch television and Compaq jumps from PCs to TV production in India. In the midst of all this, we also saw Realme enter the TV space with the launch of the Realme TV† The TV is available in two screen sizes: 32-inch HD ready and 43-inch FHD. Today we have the 43-inch Realme FHD TV with us for review. Is it worth considering?

Realme 43-inch FHD HDR TV specifications at a glance

Panel Size: 43-inch
Panel type: VA
Panel Resolution: 1920x1080p – FHD
Panel Refresh Rate: 60Hz
HDR 10 support: Yes
Dolby Vision support: No
Weight (with stand): 6.8 kg
HDMI ports: 3
USB ports: 2
Bluetooth: Yes, 5.0
Wi-Fi: Yes
Ethernet: Yes
Speakers: 4 drivers with a total sound power of 24W
Built-in storage: 8 GB
Price: MRP: 21,999

Realme 43-inch TV screen and picture quality

Let’s start with the most important thing about the Realme TV: the display and the picture quality. The TV has an FHD resolution with support for HDR, and that’s okay, as we’ve seen other FHD TVs support HDR† HDR and resolution are independent of each other, so it’s important to note that a TV doesn’t need to have 4K resolution to show your HDR content. However, it must have a 10-bit panel, which the Realme TV does not have. The Realme TV has an 8-bit panel which isn’t ideal when consuming HDR content. So if you’re considering this TV for its HDR capabilities, think again. The TV works well for content consumption in SDR, be it streaming services or a set-top box, but gives a lackluster experience for HDR content. Let’s break it down in detail for you.

HDR performance

One thing to note is that you can only consume HDR content from the built-in apps like Netflix as the TV’s HDMI ports don’t support HDMI 2.0. They are HDMI 1.4, so even if you connect a device like the Xbox One X or a PS4 Proor a Fire TV Stick 4K to consume content in HDR, the TV only recognizes its SDR source because of the hardware. This is not a bad thing, because the performance of the TV is a lot better in SDR.

We played HDR content such as Altered Carbon and Our Planet via the built-in Netflix app. Altered Carbon has a warehouse fight with some good bright and dark sequences. In HDR it all looked dull and dark and the content was not enjoyable. Especially if you immediately switch to an external SDR source (in our case the Xbox) and the image looks a lot better. better how? Well, in HDR the sequence looks dull, even in the light parts and in the dark parts the dull content has loss of detail. In SDR, the TV doesn’t try to achieve HDR-like contrast, so the darker parts of the content are still nice.

The Realme TV can play content in HDR from the built-in apps, but the experience is mediocre.

Another show in HDR with beautiful clear images is Our Planet. Again in season 1 episode 1 at the beginning when a polar bear walks on ice you can notice the difference in quality between HDR and SDR. Playing the content from an external source like the Xbox or Fire TV stick produced much better results. Also in HDR, the content looked a lot duller than we like, especially when compared to the SDR performance on the same TV.

The sad thing is that a user cannot turn off the HDR from the built-in apps. You will need to use an external source to use SDR content. You also cannot access image settings when using content from the native apps. When I asked Realme about this, they said that if the TV had a custom UI, they could give users access to picture settings. Because of Android permissions, they can’t do it. Overall, the TV’s performance for HDR was mediocre.

Realme TV SDR Performance

When it comes to SDR content, we’ve played a lot of it through Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and more. With SDR, the TV does well. Even in a relatively bright room the reflection from the TV was decent and you could enjoy some of the fight scenes in a movie like John Wick for example. Even shows like Young Sheldon on Prime Videos, Friends on Netflix, Mission: Impossible and more were rich to watch in SDR from the built-in app. No complaints here. Again, the lack of the ability to tinker with the settings was annoying, but if you plug a Fire TV stick into the TV, you shouldn’t run into this problem. Overall, if watching everyday set-top-box content is what you’re considering this TV for, it shouldn’t disappoint.

Realme TV can play content in SDR from external sources because it has HDMI 1.4 .  has

Realme TV Gaming Performance

Before we get into the panel’s performance, let’s get one curious situation out of the way. The TV has its game mode setting in two places. One is in the picture settings which seems to adjust the picture settings slightly for use in “game mode”. The other is under the advanced video settings and turning it on and off didn’t seem to work.

So how does the TV perform for gaming? Pretty decent considering the price and features offered, almost comparable to the Onida 43″ Fire TV FHD TV (Rating† Fortunately, the TV does not decode the signal as an HDR signal, so we play the games in SDR. A game like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey with beautiful environments and rich colors looked good. During the day, in the game, we got to see some fairly rich environments and the gameplay was smooth as well. When playing Assassins Creed Odyssey, some TVs tend to have a warm preference for the color, but that’s not something we noticed on this TV, which is good.

The Realme TV does a good job for people who want to play games in 1080p SDR.

Even in a game like Forza Horizon, be it a race at night or during the day, the game looks good with details and clear image output. Gears 5 was fun with its lush environments and chainsaw hacking action. Playing games on this TV is fun and if 1080p SDR gaming is what you’re looking for then this TV lives up to expectations at this price point. Remember it has 2 game modes.

Realme TV Audio Performance

When it comes to audio, the Realme TV has 4 drivers (two full-range drivers and two tweeters) all of which give you a 24W sound output. For everyday use such as watching the news, TV shows and the occasional movie, the speakers deliver good sound. The vocals in shows like Young Sheldon or even some movies were clear. It’s when more sounds appear on the screen that things get a little muddled. So if you have a background score along with some gunfire and people talking (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, for example), the audio sounds a bit muddy. The audio is loud and the speakers have enough punch to listen to in a small room without hitting 70 percent of the volume.

The Realme TV has relatively thin bezels.

Realme TV: User Interface

Stock Android TV is the name of the game here and that’s what you get. Once the initial setup is complete, the user interface is buttery smooth. Other than a hiccup or two here and there, I had no problem with the user interface, whether navigating streaming services, switching between HDMI sources, or even changing settings. Apart from the aforementioned problem of not being able to check the image presets when using the built-in services, the user interface works smoothly. Even the Google Assistant voice control works fine, so no complaints here.

The Realme TV runs on the Android TV user interface.

Realme TV Remote Control

The remote has one of the better designs I’ve seen on a budget TV in the recent past. It has a teardrop design – extremely thin on the top and a little thick on the bottom where you have the battery case. This design gives the remote control a good grip. Added to the grip is the matte finish that gives you the feeling that the remote control won’t slip out of your hand when you hold it lightly. It fits compactly in the hand, which is a lot better than, for example, the Fire TV Stick remote.

The Realme TV comes with a sleek, easy-to-use remote control.

The buttons are simply laid out with the power and mute on top, followed by the directional controls. It has dedicated keyboard shortcuts for Netflix, YouTube, and Prime videos, which is nice. The OTT hotkeys, the Google Assistant button and the volume controls are easily accessible with the user’s thumb, adding to the ergonomics of the remote.

The Realme TV has 3 HDMI ports and 2 USB ports.

Realme TV: build and design

Given the TV’s price, we don’t expect it to boast of major shocks in build and design. It’s a budget TV and it looks good with a plastic shell and 2 plastic feet that keep the TV firmly in place. All connectivity options are on the back of the TV, some ports face sideways and the rest face down. On the side, we have one HDMI port, antenna port, coaxial audio port, AV port, one USB port and headphone port. Looking down we have two HDMI ports, a LAN port and a USB port.

The Realme TV has 2 plastic feet to hold it on a tabletop.

Overall, the build and design of the TV is acceptable given the price. It’s functional. Placing it on a table top allows you to place a set-top box under the TV, but don’t expect a game console under the TV if it’s on a table.

Bottom Line

The TV’s lackluster HDR performance is a major drawback. Add to that the fact that you can’t control the picture presets of the built-in apps and a lot of the smart capabilities start to feel handicapped on this TV. To get the most out of this TV, you’ll need to use it with an external device like the Fire TV Stick or another streaming box. If watching everyday set-top-box content is your priority, then this TV should do the job pretty well. However, for streaming services, you need to use an external device. The TV comes with a very ergonomic and user-friendly remote control.


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