Ever since we headed over to the states, Sabriena has been on me about getting a new TV. Compounded by our giant DIY entertainment centre, our 32” just looks rather miniscule. It’s a Hi-Sense HL32K26PL, so not amazing quality to begin with, though it does handle the 240p/288p composite signal from various consoles rather nicely and has very low-latency for a cheap TV so I was somewhat reluctant to replace it with anything that might be in any way inferior.
)The new TV is a Bauhn ATV58UHDC-0517. I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to buy any more electronics stuff at Aldi, but others have informed me of Aldi’s 60-day satisfaction guarantee, which they’ve apparently used with impunity, so we reasoned if we didn’t like it, we could take the thing back. It was $800AUD, which we couldn’t entirely afford if I’m being honest… there’s certainly better things we could have put that money towards, but I think at this stage it’s well worth the money.
The unit is UHD “4k”” (3840x2160), which is a really stupid name for a resolution given that every resolution before it is named after the vertical space, and 4k is named after the horizontal space (give or take, since it’s not even 4000 pixels wide in UHD format!). We don’t really have anything in the living room that’ll drive it at 4k (the PS4 Pro - which is another stupid name, when they could probably have called it the PS4k - is cost-prohibitive for us to upgrade to at the moment), but it came with a Chromecast Ultra which will apparently do the job.
It scales 1080p very, very well - unless I’m sitting up close to the thing I can’t really discriminate pixels, yet it’s not blurry. The panel is bright, not washed out, no idiotic motion-blur, interpolation, or any of that other junk, and best of all it’s fast. Scaling 1080p to 4k UHD should be a rather efficient operation - a simple 2D doubling of pixels - but a lot of TVs get it wrong somehow and process the entire frame for large chunks of a second before displaying it. Thankfully when Sabriena played Bloodborne (a game which requires rather precise timing) on it she was satisfied it was fast enough.
Interestingly enough, it accepts a 240p and 288p signal over composite video as well. I was surprised by this, but I guess it’s not that uncommon. I would still like to buy the scaler I was expecting to have to buy, but it’s nice being able to buy it when I want or when I can afford it rather than having a bunch of consoles on display that I can’t ever play. Scaling 240p to 4k is also rather trivial (triple to 720p, then triple again - though what’s far more likely is it de-interlaces it to 480, then quadruples), but it’s very fast at scaling 288p as well so I think it might just be a rather efficient scaler in the thing. Of course the scaler amplifies the noise from the composite video, and the absolutely awful “deinterlacing” is there as usual… I won’t get away from either without a fancy scaler and RGB though.
Back to the 4k content. Unbelievably massive oversight, but it looks like the built-in USB media player doesn’t support 4k video. At least, it won’t play any 4k file I’ve thrown at it. I think these things are an afterthought. Decided to give the Chromecast a go, and had a very rough time getting it set up, and then playback performance was utterly unacceptable even at 720p. Thinking perhaps it was the wireless signal, I draped an ethernet cable over for a test, and it worked very well… and curiously, continued working well again when unplugged. We watched some nature documentaries for a few minutes in 4k, which was absolutely stunning… but I don’t think it’s worth the damage to our internet (in both available throughput, and monthly quota).
When I enabled HDMI-CEC, the controls for the PS4 and Chromecast are mostly intuitive. There’s some minor issues (like seemingly needing the controller to get out of one TV app and into another) but it works well and will hopefully save us some wear and tear on the PS4 controllers. If I had to pick one complaint, it’s that every so often when the TV turns the PS4 on for you, the signal comes in garbage and one must power-cycle the TV before it will display.
We had to reconfigure the top shelf of the entertainment centre to make room, and the wall-mount solution won’t work either and requires re-engineering, so the TV is sitting on it’s own legs at the moment, but it looks a lot better.
On the whole, I’m pretty pleased with it for the price. It’s certainly bigger than I was expecting to buy, and performance is a pleasant surprise. Hopefully it doesn’t end up being a piece of shit after the 60 day period!