Blaupunkt recently launched half a dozen smart TVs in India – some with 4K display and a couple with full HD resolution. Something about their Full HD smart series caught my fancy. The company called it the Smart Sound series and it boasted of 90 Watts sound output, courtesy of the TV speakers and a bundled soundbar. So I got one for review and this is how it fared.
Blaupunkt BLA50AS570 Smart TV: Specifications, design and connectivity options
The Blaupunkt BLA50AS570 is a 50-inch smart TV with full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). It doesn’t have an IPS panel but does claim to have an A+ grade panel with Direct LED backlighting, 178 degrees viewing angles and 60Hz refresh rate. Brightness can go as high as 300nits and the contrast ratio stands at 4000:1. The TV is powered by a quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and Mali 450 penta-core GPU. There is 1GB RAM, 8GB of internal storage and runs Android version 5.1.1. The built-in speakers produce 30 Watts RMS output. If that’s not enough, there is a bundled soundbar that adds another 60 Watts to the audio experience along with depth and quality. More on that, a little later.
This Blaupunkt TV looks quite elegant with metallic grey bezels around the display and comes with a pair of matching metal stands. The bezels are not too thick but not the slimmest I have seen either. You also have an option to wall-mount the TV with the necessary apparatus included in the package. However, some ports at the back may be hard to reach once you mount it. Strangely, the company didn’t bother bundling screws to attach the table top stands. Either they were missing in my review package or they simply expected the buyers to wall mount this TV. But then why provide the stands either? Guess I will go with the former and hope the company bundles them with the retail units.
The TV comes with 3 remote controls (that’s right!) – one, a standard remote for the TV, other an air mouse and third for the soundbar. Honestly, all three could have been rolled into one, and this is no rocket science that I speak of. I can still live with a separate remote for the soundbar as you can use the bar independently as well, in case you don’t wish to use it with this TV. But the standard remote and air mouse should have been clubbed into one as they have several overlapping functions. I have seen lesser brands do it; the German engineers could have surely managed it with ease. While the company has been generous with remotes, they have been stingy with batteries to run them. It takes a pair of AAA batteries to run each of the remotes, but for some reason the company chose to bundle just 2 pairs of batteries.
Note to Blaunpunkt India: Kindly bundle 6 extra screws and a couple more AAA batteries in the retail package.
On the connectivity front, there is very little to complain about. The TV comes with built-in Wi-Fi, 3 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports, 2 coaxial A/V ports, a LAN port, A/V out, headphone jack and the works. It also comes bundled with a Sensy IR set-top-box (STB) controller. It basically functions like an IR blaster port on your phone. It syncs the TV remote with the STB IR frequency and you can control the STB with the TV remote itself. Yay! One less remote to use! Ironically, the STB I was using while testing this TV had a RF remote/receiver and no IR receiver. Didn’t get remotely lucky there, did I?
Blaupunkt BLA50AS570 Smart TV: Performance
The TV takes about 45 seconds to boot fully; standard fare with most smart TVs these days. The user interface (UI) is fairly simple to use with TV inputs and apps neatly arranged in different rows that one can browse through with the remote. There are shortcuts to several TV channels and some live feeds from certain TV channels are available too. The TV comes preloaded with apps for popular streaming services like Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Hungama and more. You have Aptoide TV along with Google Play Store preinstalled. Before you rejoice, I would like to add that a lot of apps you try to install from the Google Play Store warn you that they aren’t compatible with this device. In such a scenario, the Aptoide store comes handy in some cases. The good part here is that the three popular services – Netflix, Hotstar and Prime videos work perfectly fine after updating the bundled apps. The same goes for YouTube too. However, I just couldn’t get Sony LIV to work during the course of the testing.
Coming to the picture quality of this Blaupunkt TV, it is quite good for anything playing at 720p resolution or higher. The colours are vibrant and contrast is good enough too. The brightness is just enough and black levels are pretty impressive. The TV truly comes to life when playing high quality full HD content. The details in shadows and dark areas in our test videos were clearly visible too and the colours were fairly accurate. Just make sure you are at least 9 to 10 feet away from this 50-inch screen. That’s the minimum optimal viewing distance for this TV. To set your expectations right, the picture quality here is not exactly in the same league as a Samsung or a Sony selling at twice its price but better than most TVs selling in this price range.
Playback from USB was excellent. It could play all the video file formats and codecs I threw at it including h265/HEVC. It could also playback our test 4K Ultra HD videos; it down-scaled it to full HD, of course but it could play it through USB, and that is not something all TVs can boast of. You can even resume playing videos from where you left off the last time. Like most smart TVs, the Blaupunkt BLA50AS570 also lets you mirror your smartphone or tablet screen in case you prefer to do so.
While most of the things are fine here, there are few issues I would like to point out. First, the IR frequencies of the bundled remote controls seem to overlap where they should not. For instance, the down direction key on the main remote tends to switch off and switch on the soundbar as it coincides with the frequency of the power on/off key on the soundbar remote. So while you scroll down a menu on the TV or browse through a list of files, the soundbar keeps going on and off. A mild irritation but still manageable. Also, the air mouse has a microphone button which when pressed is suppose to accept voice input, but that just didn’t work for me. It may possibly work after the upcoming Alexa integration that the company announced recently. But for now, it didn’t work.
The final issue is a bigger one. This TV simply doesn’t let you adjust basic picture and audio settings like colour, brightness, contrast, backlight etc. While the TV manual suggests that it can be done by pressing the Menu key, it just doesn’t work in reality, and in neither of the input modes. At first I thought there was a problem with the remote, but the Menu key on the side of the TV doesn’t bring up the desired settings either. I believe the company can fix it with a software update. Hope Blaupunkt releases the update sooner than later. These are elementary settings that users deserve access to.
Blaupunkt BLA50AS570 Smart TV: Audio performance
Generally I wouldn’t bother writing a couple of paragraphs on the audio performance of LED TVs. They never give me a reason to. Things here are a little different though. As I mentioned earlier, the TV speakers have a rated audio output of 30 Watts RMS. While the output is fairly loud, it lacks thump like most flat panel TVs. In simpler words, while the vocals are clear, there’s hardly any bass response from the TV speakers. That is where the bundled soundbar changes the game and puts the ‘Smart’ in Smart Sound series.
The soundbar has an elegant design, good build quality and can be placed on the table or mounted on a wall with a couple of screws. The output is rated at 60 Watts RMS. The bundled remote lets you control the volume, bass, treble and also the music playback. It also lets you choose from multiple input sources, namely – Bluetooth, USB and a couple of aux inputs. There is no sub-woofer here but you won’t miss one at most times. The sound quality is excellent and with surprisingly high amount of bass. The output can get fairly loud and has a quite a bit of thump. The sound stage is not too pronounced but the soundbar manages to reproduce a good range of frequencies. The sound clarity is very good with ample warmth. I will go to the extent of saying that this is one of the best sound outputs I have heard in a soundbar without a sub-woofer.
Blaupunkt BLA50AS570 Smart TV: Price and verdict
The Blaupunkt BLA50AS570 50-inch smart TV is priced in India at Rs 34,999 and is available online on Flipkart. It comes with a one year warranty. In the ongoing Big Billion Days sale, you may be able to buy it close to Rs 30,000 with all the discounts and cashback. The price is fairly competitive, and barring the few niggles that I mentioned earlier, some of which can be fixed with a software update, this is a good overall package. For that price, you get a big screen with good picture quality, ample connectivity options, a bunch of useful features and add-ons, and last but not the least, excellent audio output, courtesy of the bundled soundbar (extra half a star in the rating just for that). All said and done, at its asking price, buying this Blaupunkt TV would be a sound decision.