The ’90s were fun for the TV space in India. You had a multitude of brands to choose from. Homegrown players like BPL, Onida, Videocon, and some international ones at the time like Philips, Sony, Akai, Sansui, Samsung and LG. Thomson was one of the international brands that used to be in play at the time, however, when the 2000s arrived, it had fizzled out of existence because of the dominance of Samsung and LG who even squashed Sony in India.
Two years ago, Thomson made a return to India after more than a decade of absence. It came back in a different way. The brand name is licensed out, these were a new breed of smart TVs propelled by Android TV. And over the last few years, they have played the value card pretty decently though hindered by the startling rise of Xiaomi in the same segment. Their latest Oath Pro 65-inch panel is yet another one that takes on Xiaomi’s offerings, and if I may say in more than one meaningful way. At around Rs 50,000, it will give you that gargantuan home cinema experience that most 90’s kids dreamed of in India at just a fraction of the price of what you’d get from most vendors. Most importantly, it even managed to undercut the mighty Xiaomi 65-inch MiTV 4X by a couple of thousand bucks.
One of the wonders of modern smart TVs like phones is the underlying software platform — Android TV. The Thomson Oath Pro is based on Android TV 9.0. It runs everything from Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium to Hotstar out of the gate, and also supports cutting edge display and audio technologies like Dolby Vision and Dolby Audio. This makes it complete. Dolby Vision is particularly interesting because that’s not there on many smart TVs including ones from Xiaomi. It is the best HDR video standard which gives it an edge on visuals especially for content optimised for the standard. In terms of audio, you can expect above-average audio quality but don’t expect spectacular sound. Most people seeking a more immersive experience will do well to at least augment it with a soundbar if not a home-theatre system.
When one speaks about general picture quality — I am happy to report that it is excellent and certainly in the same ballpark as some of its rivals, if not better by a smidgeon. Colours, contrast, brightness levels, and viewing angles are all A+.IPS panels are usually great from the get-go, this one is certainly a cut above the normal.
This is going to be a great TV for any kind of content, except for gaming. I can say this after binging on the Umbrella Academy, the new Transformers anime, Star Trek Picard, and also watching Avenger’s End Game for the 50th time. I also played games like Red Dead Redemption 2 on my Xbox One X.
With the next generation consoles on the horizon later in the year, a 60Hz refresh rate just doesn’t cut it for anyone who is serious about gaming. Of course, a higher refresh rate does come with a premium on price but it is what it is. This is just going to be good for watching movies and make do for the most basic gaming purposes. I mean that you can game on this — there is no limit per se, in case this sounds confusing, but you wouldn’t be leveraging the maximum visual fidelity even what a current-generation Xbox One X can offer the user.
I also appreciate the fact that Thomson has kept things quite simple with the remote and it has dedicated buttons for Netflix and Prime Video alongside one for even YouTube. It also seamlessly supports most casting protocols so you can get running with whatever watching almost instantly after setting up your Google account and WiFi.
It also comes with a wide assortment of ports for wired connections and the latest Bluetooth 5.0 tech if you want to connect with an external source of audio or a Bluetooth speaker.
Perhaps, the biggest advantage here is the price itself. Who could have imagined a 4K 65-inch panel, that too one of high quality and smarts of Android TV with Dolby Vision at just upwards of 50k?
So yes, there are a few minor catches. For instance, the build quality of the remote is quite cheap, alongside a mostly plastic frame of the TV. Software-wise, for some reason, it doesn’t default to the Android TV home screen which is odd and confusing for the first time user. The responsiveness of the interface also feels sluggish at times which probably means that the chipset isn’t the fastest one around. I also felt the Wi-Fi signal wasn’t the greatest even though I used the TV in the same room as a WiFi router which was on a 300mbps connection – this wasn’t a huge issue, but I did notice the odd drop-offs when on 4k streams.
Look, the Thomson Oath Pro 65-inch isn’t perfect, but it is a great option for someone looking to modernise their living room entertainment system with a large screen at an affordable budget. Most TVs look the same and this one isn’t different – which plays well as you barely see the name of the brand while it does everything you’d expect it to do. In fact, it far exceeds its capabilities, something which its price doesn’t give away. This is a must-have for anyone who likes binge-watching the latest and greatest shows on Netflix but can’t afford a 65-inch TV. Considering that most people are going to be working from home and spending more time indoors, this makes even more sense. Thomson has done it for you.
(Price: Rs 52,999, available on Flipkart)