OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) Review

When OnePlus launched its first televisions in 2019, there were mixed reactions from reviewers and enthusiasts alike. The OnePlus TV Q1 series is impressive for several reasons, but with prices starting at Rs. 69,999, it really is still much too expensive for most to even consider. The company’s new televisions for 2020 are not replacements for the OnePlus TV Q1 series at all; they are more affordable TVs that will interest more value-conscious buyers.

The company has launched the OnePlus TV U series and Y series, with the latter being the absolute most affordable, designed for budget smart TV buyers. The former is what we’re reviewing today. There’s a single 55-inch model in this series for now – the OnePlus TV 55U1 4K LIGHT EMITTING DIODE Android TV. Priced at Rs. 49,999, this is simply not a budget option in the slightest, but it is significantly more affordable than the OnePlus TV 55Q1 because of the more cost-efficient LED-backlit LCD screen.

Apart from that, this television promises everything else that you’d get with the OnePlus TV Q1 series, along with various software tweaks and improvements that have been released since that model was initially launched. Is the new OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) a good substitute for consider if you should be looking for a not-so-expensive big-screen 4K HDR TV? Find out in our review.

OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) design and specifications

The OnePlus TV Q1 series is quite radical in terms of design, with its carbon-fibre-like texture at the back and somewhat controversial stand. With the OnePlus TV 55U1, things have changed somewhat. The tv is just 6.9mm thick at the top and sides, by having an aluminium human anatomy. The borders around the screen are slim, with a little OnePlus logo just below the screen that’s barely noticeable unless you’re right before it. The screen-to-body ratio is an impressive 95 %, and this makes the TV look incredible from all angles.

It’s also rather heavy for a 55-inch TV due to the premium materials used. From the front, the 55U1 closely resembles the OnePlus TV Q1, and contains rear-positioned speakers, as the power button is at the underside near the lower-right corner.

The slightly thicker bottom section has a familiar carbon-fibre-like texture, with the wall mount sockets in the middle and all ports on the right, with a detachable shroud. If you’re table-mounting the TV, you might want to keep this on after plugging in any external devices, to keep up the uniformity of the rear of the TV.

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The OnePlus TV 55U1 supports the 12-bit Dolby Vision HDR standard

The TV includes a decent pair of ports, including three HDMI inputs (one of which supports HDMI ARC), two USB ports, an AV-In socket that can be used by having an adapter, an RF socket for an antenna, an optical audio output, and an Ethernet port for wired Internet connectivity. A notable omission here is a 3.5mm audio jack, but there is Bluetooth for wireless speakers or headphones.

If you intend to table-mount the OnePlus TV U Series (55U1), it’s a fair bit better to install, and much more stable compared to OnePlus TV Q1 series. The stands attach firmly and securely near the corners of the TV, and you will therefore desire a wide enough table to position the television on. It has standard VESA sockets at the back for wall mounting, and can simply take pretty much any VESA-supported wall mount kit for the size.

Wall mounting was a bit tricky for me, since OnePlus does not include a kit in the sales package. I used a standard VESA kit, but because of the slanting back of the TV, this managed to get tilt slightly upwards. This wasn’t a critical concern for me personally because of the height and positioning of the TV within my home, however it could be a problem for some, and definitely looked awkward on my wall.

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You get several of use ports on the OnePlus TV U Series, but there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack

 

OnePlus states that an official wall mount kit will soon be brought along by the business’s installation technicians, can be fitted at no charge, and can correct the tilt issue. However, the business wasn’t in a position to provide any more details on this, including the design of the wall mount kit, during this review. Nonetheless, the truth that users may face this problem with not the official wall mount kit is a bit bothersome.

The OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) includes a 55-inch Ultra-HD (3840×2160-pixel) LED-backlit VA panel, with support for HDR up to the Dolby Vision format. There is also MEMC for motion interpolation. The TV includes a total rated sound output of 30W, through a four-speaker configuration in the bottom. Sound formats up to Dolby Atmos and DTS:HD are supported, and a Bluetooth Stereo mode enables you to use the tv as a Bluetooth speaker with source devices such as for example smartphones or tablets.

OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) remote and features

OnePlus went with a minimalist remote for the Q1 series, with an integral battery and USB Type-C charging. With the cheaper U series, the company went back to an even more traditional design, while retaining some good a few ideas. The 55U1’s remote is plastic and runs on AAA batteries, but still looks a lot like that of the Q1 series. It does not feel nearly as good in the hand, but it’s light and more functional than before.

There is just a D-pad for navigation towards the top, a Google Assistant button, Android navigation keys, hotkeys for Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, and regular volume and mute buttons on this Bluetooth and IR remote. There is still no dedicated power button; the OnePlus button controls power when the TV is in standby, and a long-press shows the restart, power down, and standby options. This button also activates the Oxygen Play launcher with a short press when the TV is on.

OnePlus appears to have taken feedback seriously, and there is one significant new button that produces using the TV very easy. The multi-function button – signified by three squares and a circle – enables you to access quick settings from wherever you’re on the TV, without forcing one to go back to the Android TV home screen as was the case before.

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The remote is more functional than the the one that shipped with the OnePlus TV Q1

 

From this pop-up menu, you can control network settings, pick a different source, adjust picture and sound modes, toggle Bluetooth Stereo mode, and go into the full Settings menu. All of the can be done while something is playing on the TV, without interrupting playback regardless of source device. This was much needed, and fixes something which I regarded as a major drawback when using the OnePlus Q1 series.

As will be expected on an Android TV-powered tv, there is integral Chromecast and support for Google Assistant on the OnePlus TV U Series (55U1). Additionally, it’s possible to link the OnePlus TV U Series to Alexa, permitting you to use any Echo or other compatible device you may have at home with the TV for voice commands.

OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) computer software and interface

Not a lot has changed on the software front for the OnePlus TV U Series (55U1); the tv screen runs the familiar Android TV 9 Pie with OnePlus’ own Oxygen Play launcher. You get access to apps and games through the Google Play store for Android TV, and a small number of apps including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are preinstalled on the television. There are no notable app omissions here, so you will get the full-fledged Android TV experience with this TV.

What I’m very happy to report here’s that OnePlus has were able to iron out most of the early software problems that I undergone on the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro. This TV is fast, responsive, and a breeze to utilize. The only issue I did so notice within my time with the TV was that the Dolby Vision logo was usually visible on screen although the toggle was off. This is just a small issue though, and may easily be fixed by going into the settings and toggling it on and back off.

Furthermore, the settings are step by step, and tweaking picture and sound settings is much more responsive on the OnePlus TV 55U1. Differences in picture quality were visible, and switching off motion interpolation and other picture processing modes actually showed a difference. It was simple to tune the TV to the right picture settings for various types of content, while HDR and Dolby Vision content took on its own special settings that didn’t have to be adjusted much.

There can be an AI picture quality mode that lets the TV adjust settings on the fly based on the content on screen, which too worked quite well. The television was quick as well, starting up from standby in only about two seconds. On the whole, I’m quite impressed with how easy it really is to use the OnePlus TV U Series, and how polished and hassle-free its software is.

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The OnePlus TV 55U1 runs Android TV 9 Pie, combined with Oxygen Play launcher

 

Oxygen Play was only a little half-baked when it was launched with the OnePlus TV Q1 series last year, for me, but it does seem to have improved a lot since then. Various streaming services such as Sony Liv, Hungama Play, and Zee5 are officially supported on the platform, providing you with a content-centric approach to the interface with quick access to specific movies and TV shows. However, as before, you do need to be subscribed to these services, and link your accounts to help you to use Oxygen Play correctly.

One big improvement now could be the addition of Amazon Prime Video, but strangely this has an unique tab as opposed to being a the main general set of content. This is a bit silly, for me, since I could just as easily use the Amazon Prime Video app to gain access to the same quite happy with the indigenous Prime Video user interface. While I did not use Oxygen Play much, I do start to see the appeal for those who might choose the content-centric interface and the capacity to discover new movies and TV shows without much effort.

OnePlus Connect returns on the OnePlus TV U Series (55U1), and is particularly largely without any the bugs and conditions that were commonplace last year. This app enables you to use your smartphone as a remote, cast content on your smartphone to the TV easily, and discover content based on guidelines. Like before, this isn’t an extremely elaborate app, but it does its job well enough.

OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) performance

OnePlus has had things down a notch with the U Series using an LIGHT EMITTING DIODE display set alongside the Q series’ QLED panels, but picture performance continues to be largely good. The OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) is priced a bit more than similarly specified options from Xiaomi and Vu, but is just an extra affordable compared to TCL 55C715 which has a QLED display. Interestingly enough, the OnePlus TV 55U1 fits perfectly in to what I’m is the ideal middle ground in terms of performance for the purchase price.

As will be expected, the OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) performs best with Ultra-HD Dolby Vision content, but I was also very impressed with how good full-HD content looked on it. Lower-resolution content naturally showed some flaws due to the size of the screen, but I discovered performance with 720p and SD content to be better than on some of the slightly more affordable options I’ve used.

Starting out with Dolby Vision content on Netflix, I played what In my opinion to function as the most visually stunning tv series ever made – Our Planet. The tv immediately showed the Dolby Vision notification in the very best corner, and produced an image that was step by step, clean, and accurate when it found colour reproduction. I specially liked how smooth and polished it looked, avoiding some of the sharp and jagged edges that some 4K TVs produce by over-processing the picture.

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Dolby Vision content naturally looked most readily useful on the OnePlus TV 55U1

 

The LIGHT EMITTING DIODE display also meant that the OnePlus TV could push the brightness around levels that Dolby Vision justice. It was impressive just how well the television handled contrast, making sure bright zones were bright while dark zones looked as they should. Sunlight specifically looked as realistic as a TV can make it look, and scenes shot in bright daylight were impressive.

However, darker shows such as for example Night On Earth and Snowpiercer unmasked a major shortcoming in the OnePlus TV U Series – strange black levels. The TV could never quite produce anything that even came near a true black, with practically all black parts of scenes looking similar to dark grey.

This is somewhat to be expected from an LED-backlit TV due to the limitations of the technology, but the OnePlus TV 55U1 performs somewhat below expectations when compared to your competition. Slightly greater outcomes on the whole could possibly be seen with my assortment of 4K and HDR sample clips, than with streaming media, but this was not a marked difference.

Next up was ‘Game Over, Man!’, also available in Dolby Vision on Netflix. This action-comedy movie was a touch too edgy for my tastes, but the viewing experience it self was impressive for one big reason – motion handling. The OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) uses MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation) to exemplary effect, making for a smooth picture (if that’s what you like) that was largely free of judder and artefacts.

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Upscaling is very good on the OnePlus TV 55U1; full-HD content looked almost like 4K

 

That’s not to imply these weren’t visible – all motion interpolation produces some effects – however it was down seriously to a minimum and was scarcely noticeable. Switching it off produced the motion blur that a lot of people do desire to see, but additionally seemed to put in a bit of judder to the picture. I quite liked the smooth motion, which helped keep consitently the picture sharp and made watching TV a bit easier on the senses for me personally.

What perhaps impressed me the most concerning the OnePlus TV U Series 55U1 is how well it handles full-HD content. I watched the entire Matrix trilogy streaming in full-HD, and the TV upscaled it so well that at times it looked like I was watching the movies in Ultra-HD resolution. The smoothness, detail, and colours were particularly impressive, while motion interpolation organized impressively even yet in the fast action scenes. The iconic green tinge of the series if the characters have been in the Matrix was reproduced perfectly, as were other colours and skin tones.

Upscaling on the OnePlus TV U series is decent even if working with lower-resolution content, with 720p and SD videos looking a good bit much better than we’ve seen on most affordable big-screen TVs. The motion interpolation and smoothening capabilities of the TV do seem to be performing a big area of the lifting here, and you can still find some expected artefacts and dull edges to be observed. However, generally, this is one of the better large-screen TVs to take into account if you are not ready to release your cable or DTH connection, or if you watch a lot of content on YouTube.

The OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) has a 30W box-speaker setup consisting of four drivers (two full-range speakers and two tweeters), and support for approximately the Dolby Atmos format. While everything seems good on paper, I was largely unimpressed with sound quality on the TV. Apart from a not enough uniformity in volume levels, the sound was also oddly tuned and a touch too boomy for a tv.

Action scenes were loud and aggressive, while speech and gentle background scores were usually too soft to hear obviously. I usually had to keep the remote in my own hand and keep adjusting the volume while you’re watching the Matrix trilogy to help keep the wildly fluctuating volume levels in balance. Dolby Atmos content did fix this slightly and sound better, but there is not too much commercially available content in this format for the time being. With most streaming content using the lower Dolby or DTS formats, this TV doesn’t quite live up to expectations when it comes to sound quality. I’d recommend budgeting for a great soundbar or speaker system aswell, if you’re likely to buy the OnePlus TV U Series.

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It’s a bit costly, but the OnePlus TV U Series possesses better performance than budget 4K options

 

Verdict

OnePlus’ first attempt at televisions was definately not ideal, however the company did on improving that product with computer software updates with time. This new model has benefited from that learning, and results in as much more focused, polished, and calculated. Priced more affordably than last year’s Q1 series, the Rs. 49,999 OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) gets most things right, from the style and computer software, to display quality. The 55U1 comes across as a much more capable product compared to Q1 series did during its launch, offering what it really promises for the price, and doing a good job with the core experience.

That isn’t to state this TV is without its issues. The potential incompatibility with aftermarket wall-mounts, poor black levels, and inconsistent sound are worth remember if you want to buy the OnePlus TV. However, the pros far outweigh the cons here, and the OnePlus TV U Series (55U1) can be an impressive mid-range LED tv that makes plenty of sense for buyers that are not only heavily invested in streaming platforms, but additionally still notably attached to traditional cable or DTH.

That said, you can also want to look at the TCL 55C715, which is priced just a bit higher but offers slightly better picture and sound quality. Alternatively, if Rs. 49,999 sounds a bit too high for you, options such as the Vu Premium 4K Android TV and Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 55 are not quite as good for a fair bit less.


Mi TV 4X vs Vu Cinema TV: Which is the better budget TV in India right now? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can sign up for via Apple Podcasts or RSS, down load the episode, or just hit the play button below.