Redmi Smart TV 43-inch review: Steal deal, but is it a smart deal?

Redmi—the name is synonymous with value. But even as it charts new frontiers, which is to say it launches more products and enters more diverse categories, an overlap with Mi—now Xiaomi—is inevitable. What that means is that often, a certain Redmi product will have to prove its mettle against its own sibling and occasionally, buying one—over the other—would become a complicated affair.

That’s true for a Redmi TV slash Mi TV situation more than any other product the duo makes today.

Take the Redmi Smart TV 43 for instance. It sits below the more premium Redmi Smart TV X Series—that spawns three 4K models—and is currently the second most affordable TV in the Redmi line-up. The price of this model is Rs 25,999 though it was sold at a Rs 2,000 discount for a limited period after launch. Redmi also sells the same TV in a 32-inch size—which is its cheapest TV—for Rs 15,999.

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Like any other Redmi product, the Redmi Smart TV 43 lures you in with the promise of a feature set that’s hard to beat at its price. Then it also lives up to those credentials—mostly—by delivering an experience second to none. The Redmi Smart TV 43 is a steal at Rs 25,999. If you happen to get it for less—and you would if you wait, there could be more surprises before the end of this year—that’s even better. The question is, as good as the Redmi Smart TV 43 is on paper and in the real world, is it also a smart choice? Well, that depends on what your end-goal is.

Redmi Smart TV 43 | What’s good

The great thing about Xiaomi TVs is the visual consistency in design. The smaller—and cheaper—models don’t necessarily end up looking or feeling inferior next to a bigger, more expensive model. Only and only if you have access to these TVs, maybe at an offline store or something, will you notice the subtle differences. At the same time, there are clear cut boundaries between a Mi and Redmi TV indicative of the price points the two cater to, so you know what you’re getting into.

All current-gen Redmi TVs have a plastic body and a ‘giant’ Redmi branding etched on the back. Another thing that differentiates them is the sizeable glossy border that surrounds the screen on all sides—in the case of the entry-level Redmi Smart TV 43, that’s even chunkier. More premium elements like metal, carbon fibre, and slim bezels are reserved for the Mi TVs.

It has a plastic body and a ‘giant’ Redmi branding on the back. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

For what it’s worth, the Redmi Smart TV 43 is built well for the asking price. There are no loose ends though if we were to nit-pick, the plastic bezel around the screen could have been sturdier. It is what some might call flimsy. Luckily, you won’t have to bother much about it after the initial setup.

That setup is same as setting up any other Xiaomi TV, or for that matter, any Android TV. You get a ‘minimalist’ Bluetooth remote, that’s same as the one that comes with some recent Mi TVs. It has dedicated buttons for Google Assistant, Netflix, and Prime Video. Xiaomi still doesn’t include a mute button on the remote—though it now lets you double click the volume down button to do that.

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There are two separate software pieces available on the Redmi Smart TV 43. One is the stock Android TV 11 interface—the Redmi Smart TV 43 is in fact one of the very few budget TVs running the new OS. The other is Xiaomi’s own next-gen PatchWall 4. This kind of combination isn’t even available on its most expensive TVs at the time of writing this review. In a way, that makes the Redmi Smart TV 43 kind of special.

Redmi Smart TV 43, Redmi Smart TV 43 review, Redmi, XiaomiRedmi Smart TV 43 is built well for the asking price. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

Both pieces work as advertised. You’re free to use bare-bones Android TV if you like things plain and simple though you should give PatchWall a try—it’s highly recommended. The Xiaomi TV team has worked relentlessly on the platform over the years, whether it be on content partnerships or features, and made it what it is—distinct, dynamic, and thriving. Not a lot of TV makers, even the legacy ones, put in so much effort on the software side like the way Xiaomi does and the results speak for themselves. The only area that needs improvement is the frequency of updates—especially major OS—that, like it is on virtually every Android-based TV, is still frustratingly slow. We shouldn’t have to buy a new TV, just so we could be on the latest version of Android.

Speaking of which, every new PatchWall version brings some or the other new trick that sets the ball rolling for the future. In its fourth generation, you get IMDb integration which may be useful for some. A quick tab on content ratings could save you lot of time—and energy—for later.

Redmi Smart TV 43, Redmi Smart TV 43 review, Redmi, XiaomiThe plastic bezel around the screen is flimsy. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

Let’s get into the picture quality now. The Redmi Smart TV 43 is a full HD TV with 178-degree viewing angles and Vivid Picture Engine, Xiaomi’s in-house image-processing algorithm. The company says that this TV can show up to 16 million colours. Moreover, it has added custom picture controls for more granular control over settings which it claims is a “first in its segment.”

Right out of the gate, there are two big takeaways—the Redmi Smart TV 43 can get sufficiently bright and can deliver pleasing colours that together make it one of the most compelling options at its price.

Colours can also pop a bit—with deep blacks and whatnot—depending on the kind of panel—VA/IPS—you get when you purchase this TV. That choice though, is not in your hands.

VA panels offer higher contrast. IPS on the other hand will give you better accuracy. Put simply, there is no clear winner here. Everything narrows down to use case and even then, most average users—that this TV is targeted at—won’t notice those differences.

Redmi Smart TV 43, Redmi Smart TV 43 review, Redmi, XiaomiYou get a ‘minimalist’ Bluetooth remote. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

The Redmi Smart TV 43 is a step-up from Xiaomi’s own Mi TV 4A 43 Horizon, though the latter will give you a better sense of immersion thanks to its near borderless design—again, it all narrows down to what you want out of your TV.

But we think that that’s a small price you’ll pay because overall, the Redmi Smart TV 43 offers more bang for the buck. Not only can it get brighter and show more appealing colours, but it also packs a long list of future-ready specs including dual-band Wi-Fi, MIMO technology, and even an Auto Low Latency Mode for gaming—those that are hard to find in this price range.

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Connectivity options are in line with any other budget TV with two HDMI ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, an AV port, 3.5 mm jack and Bluetooth 5.0. One of the HDMI ports has ARC support—not to be confused with eARC which is a superior technology—which means you can hook the Redmi Smart TV 43 to a Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar—if you have one—for a richer, fuller audio experience. Curiously, the TV does not have an optical out.

Redmi Smart TV 43 | What could be better

You can choose to prop the Redmi Smart TV 43 up on a cabinet. Xiaomi bundles a pair of plastic stands in the box. Alternatively, you can mount it on the wall to save space but there are two caveats.

You’ll have to buy the wall-mount kit separately and installation charges are extra. All this was part of the package in the beginning when Xiaomi had just started out with TVs in India but over time, it stopped providing those things for some reason. There are no batteries bundled with the remote either.

Redmi Smart TV 43, Redmi Smart TV 43 review, Redmi, XiaomiPort selection is good. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

But the bigger concern—or deal-breaker if you will—is the core hardware itself. The Redmi Smart TV 43 has a 4-core MediaTek A35 CPU paired with Mali G31 GPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. It’s wishful thinking to expect top-tier machinery inside an entry-level TV but there are two reasons why Xiaomi could have done better in this regard—

  1. Xiaomi literally built a name for itself by selling top-tier hardware at rock-bottom prices.
  2. As PatchWall gets more and more complex, there’s only so much that a hardware like this can pull through before it starts to show signs of wear.

Lag and stutter aren’t unheard of on budget TVs. They’re quite common. But when you look at the whole package called the Redmi Smart TV 43—which seems too good to be true—only to find sluggish performance from the moment you power it on, you can’t help but ask, why? Except for ‘Quick Wake’ everything else on this TV is slow and janky.

Redmi Smart TV 43, Redmi Smart TV 43 review, Redmi, XiaomiCore hardware could be better. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

There is the small breather that once you’re inside an app, everything works well and seamless but getting to it is a task. With all the future-proofing Xiaomi has done, the hardware—especially the RAM count—feels like a step back.

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Moving on, the Redmi Smart TV 43 comes with dual 10W bottom-firing speakers that can get loud but soundstage and stereo separation could be better. There is some distortion at higher volumes.

Redmi Smart TV 43 | Should you buy

Regardless of its less than stellar hardware, there’s no denying that the Redmi Smart TV 43 is a more than stellar option for budget-conscious buyers or those looking to switch from a basic TV to something smart(er). Cable TV users are a big draw for this TV. Even if you’re on an HD-package of some kind, a Full HD TV like this will be more than sufficient for daily use. If you have internet access, you can also make use of ‘live’ TV channels or—finally—get acquainted with the world of OTT apps. Xiaomi’s PatchWall software makes content discovery feel like a walk in the park.

Redmi Smart TV 43, Redmi Smart TV 43 review, Redmi, XiaomiIt’s a good option for budget-conscious buyers. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/TheSpuzz)

The Redmi Smart TV 43 is far from perfect though. It may be good but it’s certainly not the best value especially when you factor in the longevity aspect. TVs are a long-term investment, and we see no reason why someone—especially power users—would shy away from spending a couple of thousand more for something that would give them more peace of mind. The Mi TV 4X 43 is one example. It is currently listed at Rs 29,999. Its successor, the Mi TV 5X 43, is available for Rs 31,999. Alternatively, there are options from Realme—Realme Smart TV 4K 43 @Rs 30,999—and Kodak Kodak CA Pro 43 @Rs 27,999—that you can also look at.

But if you were to talk specifically about Full HD TVs, no other TV—including Xiaomi’s own Mi TV 4A 43 Horizon—can get close to the Redmi Smart TV 43’s value proposition today. So, choose wisely.

Pros: Good display with granular control over settings, PatchWall 4 is brilliant, Good port selection, Dual-band Wi-Fi and ALLM on a budget

Cons: Sluggish performance, Minor quality control issues

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz