It’s always exciting when new technology is unveiled in the TV space. I remember the awe I felt when I first saw an OLED TV for the first time. I felt the same way when I saw the first Plasma TV back in the day. Even when I saw a flagship TV display Horizon Zero Dawn in HDR for the first time, I was blown away. So, you can imagine my excitement when Realme said they were introducing a new backlighting technology to illuminate the display. They call it SLED. Put simply, rather than having white or blue backlighting, the backlighting comprises all the three primary colours used to show all the colours on the display – red, green and blue. Traditionally, a white light, or in the case of QLED TVs, a blue light hits a layer which then displays the necessary colours on screen. This is, of course, an oversimplification of how it works, but it should help you get a basic idea what SLED is. How does this new backlighting technology affect the content we consume? Can we expect more TV makers to switch to this form of backlighting? Read on and find out.
Realme SLED 4K smart TV specs at a glance
Panel Size: 55-inch
Panel Type: VA SLED
Panel Resolution: 3840 x 2160 – 4K
Panel Refresh Rate: 60Hz
HDR 10 support: Yes
Dolby Vision Support: No
Weight (with stand): 12.6 kgs
HDMI Ports: 3
USB Ports: 2
Built-in storage: 16GB
Price: MRP: 42,999
Realme SLED TV Display and Picture Quality
Kicking things off with the display, the Realme SLED TV has a VA panel, which means you can expect good blacks with some compromises to the viewing angles. It is a 4K panel with support for HDR 10 but it sadly does not support Dolby Vision, something we have seen on offer on cheaper TVs. The TV has a peak brightness of about 300 nits and we have seen TVs like the Thomson OATH bring with it 500 nits of brightness for far better HDR performance. The TV does not have any dimming zones either. It comes with the standard picture presets like Standard, Vivid, Movie, game and more. Let’s take a look at the picture performance of this TV in detail.
4K and HDR performance
Netflix, Prime Video and even Hotstar have a decent catalogue of Dolby Vision and HDR content. Fire up all the three apps and all HDR content is represented with the HDR badge. The performance is where things get interesting. But before we delve into the performance, know that the 55-inch SLED TV has the same problem we found on the 43-inch Realme TV (review) and that is the fact that you cannot control the picture presets when using the native apps on the TV. So even though you can access Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar and more from the comfort of the TV itself, you cannot change the picture preset and that is a big flaw.
When watching HDR content like Our Planet, which shows some vast deserts and animals traversing it, the display looked slightly burnt. The content looked overexposed. Switch the sequence where Our Planet shows a starry sky, and we have a lush star-filled night. Switching over to the Fire TV Stick 4K, we changed the picture preset from Standard to Movie, and the overexposed sequence looked a lot better. We can say the same thing about The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video.
Action-packed content in dark sequences like Star Trek Discovery where we have a lot of shots in deep space and Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 7’s warehouse sequence which has a healthy mix of dark and bright sequences and the experience was fairly enjoyable from the TVs native apps. Once again, switching to the Fire TV Stick, we got a slightly better experience when we switched the picture presets.
Even though one can enjoy HDR content on the TV, Realme really needs to enable the ability for a user to control picture presets and other settings from the native apps. Even cheaper TVs like the Hisense 55A71F (review) offer those abilities and offer Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support as well.
Realme SLED TV FHD Performance
The same overexposed experience we saw in HDR can also be experienced in SDR. In Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, where we have Tom Cruise riding a big on the highway, the sky and sunlight in the background at times looked overexposed. Switching to the Movie preset when consuming content from the Fire TV stick really helped with this. Similarly, a show like Young Sheldon, which has bright vibrant colours, looked slightly off from the built-in app’s performance until we connected an external device and changed the TVs picture settings.
It was only when we connected an external device and changed the settings of the TV that we could exploit the potential of the Relame SLED TV. Overall, one can get pretty decent picture performance from the TV but only when using an external device, simply because it lets you control the picture settings.
Realme SLED TV Gaming Performance
Surprisingly, the gaming performance of the TV wasn’t affected by the overexposure issue we saw with consuming content. We played our standard slew of games including Assassins Creed: Odyssey, Forza Horizon 4 and Gears 5. Gears 5 was one game that stood out and looked quite good. In the opening act of the game you have to traverse through some really dark environments and while on a TV-like the OnePlus U1 (review), those dark environments were quite difficult to navigate due to how reflective the panel was, on the Realme SLED TV it was a more comfortable experience.
Even in Assassins Creed, which has pretty good HDR performance for a game in brightly lit areas, we did not encounter the overexposure issue. Mind you, we had the TV running in Game Mode. From switching between night and day to see the time-lapse in the sky to infiltrating a base in both daytime and night in the game, the TVs performance was a pleasant surprise. Same for the races in Forza. Safe to say that if all you will do on this TV is play games using a console, you should have an enjoyable experience.
Realme SLED TV Audio performance
The Realme SLED TV has 24W of sound output. The sound from the TV is loud and clear. There is a sequence in Togo on Disney+ Hotstar where you have a sledge being pulled by dogs running over a frozen lake. The crackling of the ice is one of those sequences that prove how well audio can add to the tension in a movie. While we did miss the depth of bass when the ice crackles, the rest of the experience was quite good. At about 50% volume the TV can get quite loud and did not lose clarity. Even with dialogue or mixed sequences, the TV held my attention. The low rumbles are there but at the same level what you’d expect from a TV. Vocals are clear, so watching soap operas or even dialogue-heavy movies and documentaries should be fine without investing in a soundbar.
Realme SLED TV UI
Stock Android TV is the name of the game here and that’s what you get. Once the initial setup is done, the UI is butter smooth. Apart from one or two hiccups here and there, I faced no problem with the UI, be it to navigate streaming services, switching between HDMI sources or even change the settings. Apart from the above-mentioned problem of not being able to control the picture presets when using the built-in services, the UI runs smoothly. Even the Google Assistant Voice controls work just fine.
Realme SLED TV Remote control
Realme has gone with an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” policy with the remote control. It’s the same one we saw on the 43-inch TV and one that I really liked. It has a teardrop design – extremely thin up-top and getting slightly thick at the bottom where you have the battery housing. This design gives the remote a good grip. Adding to the grip is the matte finish which gives you the feeling that the remote won’t slip from your hand if you hold it lightly. It has a compact in-hand feel and is a lot better than the Fire TV Stick remote control, for example.
The buttons are simply laid out with the power and mute up top followed by the directional controls. It has dedicated hotkeys for Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video, which is nice. The OTT hotkeys, Google Assistant button and volume controls are easily reachable by a user’s thumb, adding to the ergonomics of the remote control.
Realme SLED TV Build and Design
Starting off with the build of the TV, it is very well built. The bezels on three sides of the TV are extremely thin with the bottom bezel being slightly thick. It also houses the realme logo which is surprisingly not as prominent as we’ve seen on other brands. It has a very subtle presence. The TV isn’t the slimmest out there but it isn’t very thick either. The feet of the TV are strong and will hold it well in place when kept on a tabletop. That is if you can find a tabletop wide enough. I’ve had the 65-inch TCL C715 (review) and the Sony X9000H 65-inch placed on the TV cabinet I have at home and the 55-inch Realme SLED TV refused to fit on it. The feet jut out too much on either side. Unlike some TVs that give you 2 places to adjust the feet or let you invert their placement so that they don’t just pop out, the Realme TV has a single placement for the feet. This can get ergonomically quite annoying.
Another annoying fact about the design is the placement of the ports. While we have two USB ports, antenna and a mini AV In on the side, the 3.5mm port, LAN port, three HDMI ports are at the back, facing down. This means that whether you place the TV on a tabletop or wall-mount it, it can get quite difficult to reach the HDMI ports. Even if they were facing back, horizontally, it would have been better.
So, while the build of the TV is great for the price, its design and ergonomics are not.
Considering the 43K price of the TV, it’s a little hard to recommend, especially when you consider the options on offer. We have the 55-inch Nokia TV with JBL speakers available at 42K, we have the Hisense 55A71F available at about 38K and many more options to consider. Needless to say, the 35k to 45K price bracket is packed with offerings from a number of brands gunning for your attention. What the Realme TV has going for it is a good build and pretty good performance when you do get the option to control the picture settings. But, the unergonomic design and the lack of picture controls when consuming content from the built-in apps is a major con. Not to mention that some content can look overexposed on the panel from the native apps. If Realme can fix the UI issues in the coming weeks, then yes, one can consider this TV. Until then, you are better off considering the alternatives.