The affordable smart TV space is becoming quite intensely competitive, to say the least. Companies are trying to outdo each other with better and better televisions, at the lowest possible price points. Kodak is making a splash again in the market, with the 43-inch UDHX Smart TV. This is priced at Rs 23,999 and goes directly in competition with the Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4A Pro 43 which is priced at Rs 22,999.
In terms of the design, the Kodak has kept things simple. This has an all-plastic build, which is at par with its rivals in the segment. It is more of the same, but not anything that will really catch your attention as this sits on the table in your living room or bedroom. This isn’t the slimmest TV either. That said, it is well built and there are no rough edges that may spoil the visual experience. The table-top stand is a two-part attachment which joins the panel close to either end—this means you will need a table as wide as the TV itself for this to be installed safely. The frame around the display isn’t the thinnest, but this really won’t get in your way while you watch TV. All the connectivity options are at the back, which includes three HDMI ports, two USB ports, component and composite input as well as the coaxial audio out option. In comparison with the Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4A Pro 43, the design elements as well as the build quality are very similar, barring a few changes along the way.
Quite often, there are compromises with the display panel, and subsequently the viewing quality, with a lot of affordable televisions. However, the Kodak 43UHDX bucks that trend, with what is a very good panel on show here. This 43-inch panel has a 3840 x 2160 resolution. Hook this up to a Full HD source, such as the 1080p content on Netflix or a direct to home (DTH) connection such as a TataSky HD set top box (STB), and the content scales very well to this panel. In the automatic noise reduction mode, this retains the sharpness well, while ironing out any distortions or noise that may creep in. This is a bright panel too, and not very reflective either, which means this works well in brightly lit rooms too. Yes, if you view this TV while sitting at an angle to the display, there is some amount of colour shift and you don’t always see the best detailing, but at a straighter viewing position, this does a very good job in that regard.
At first, on the default picture settings, you may find the colour looking a tad subdued and skin tones aren’t the most accurate. But play around a bit with backlight, brightness and contrast, as well as bump up the colour slider a notch or two, and the entire experience just becomes that much better. On the issue of skin tones, we noticed they became unnaturally bright when we pushed up the backlight level beyond 40—best to keep this low, and pivot between brightness and contrast to play with the luminosity. Switch to a 4K source, such as the native 4K content on Netflix, and the crispness of the panel becomes that much more apparent instantly. Colours look better distinguished too, though the skin tones don’t look accurate if the backlight level is pushed up.
Kodak has done some work with the smart TV interface too. There are preloaded apps including Netflix, Hotstar, YouTube and even Facebook. We were able to download Amazon Video as well, to complete the holy trinity of streaming apps, so to say. The underlying foundations of this smart TV setup is Android (Android 5.1.1 to be precise, and that is fairly long in the tooth whichever way you look at it), but most likely not an official one because Kodak has kept the Google Play Store hidden away till you actually discover it. This can be quite confusing, even for those who may use an Android smartphone as their daily driver. The interface, though slicker than before, betrays that to the fullest with a layout that is simple enough to navigate, but lacks polish and finesse that one finds in the original Android TV smart TV software as well as Xiaomi’s own PatchWall in the Mi LED TV 4A Pro 43.
It is now quite tough to choose between affordable smart TVs, more than ever before. The 43-inch space now has tough competition between Kodak, Vu, Xiaomi and Sanyo, all of whom now offer 4K options in the Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 price range, if you find the right deals. Each has their own attraction, safe to say. The newest kid on the block, the Kodak 43UHDX is doing well in terms of an acceptable design and a good display panel. Yes, it also has the expected smart TV capabilities, and ticks the boxes of giving you access to the most popular streaming services as well. However, we do feel that this particular aspect of the experience remains quite rough, particularly after having become used to the slickness of PatchWall and the original Android TV in the Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4A Pro 43. While Xiaomi advertises that as a Full HD TV, you can boost the resolution to 4K by enabling HDMI 2.0 on one of the HDMI inputs, which can be handy if you already have a 4K source which you need to connect. However, the Mi LED TV 4A Pro 43 still doesn’t run Amazon Video and Netflix natively (you need an external device such as a Fire TV 4K stick), which is a bit of a disappointment.