We're spoiled at Stuff, what with constant access to LG and Samsung's highest-end sets, but you can probably overlook the basic-but-functional OS here and see the UB7500 for what it really is -- a decent 4K TV at a very decent price.
Ease of setup
It’s been quite some time since we got our hand on a literal TV from Skyworth. We’ve seen them recently but haven’t really had all that much time to play with them, beyond a couple of hours at events with all sorts of other people pawing at the controls — ah, good times. Those days are done. To get back to the point, we recently got some extended face-time with the Skyworth UB7500, a 55in 4K LED (also available in a 65in size) from the same brand that makes some of the cheapest sets in the country. That’d be Sinotec, with Skyworth making up the company’s premium arm.
And our main question really was: How are Skyworth’s TVs, particularly compared to the larger brands in the market? The answer is: good enough to get the job done, but requiring a little more polish on the software side.
It’s a set-up
Right out of the box, the Skyworth UB7500 is easy to use. It only took a single person about 30 minutes to completely set up the set, from splitting the box to turning on the set and connecting it to a wireless access point. There’s very little construction required — the feet are easy to attach to the base, using just three screws each, and the set itself is sized just right that moving it around on your ace isn’t an exercise in “I hope I don’t drop this bloody thing”. We’d imagine the 65in version of this same set would be a little more unwieldy, though. It might be a plan to have a backup on hand for that one.
Once it’s all assembled, it’s… well, it’s a largely unobtrusive black rectangle. The UB7500 isn’t notably thick or thin through the middle, there’s little in the way of design trickery on the front end and the most eye-catching visual feature from the front is the birds-feet stand. It looks a little like you’ve got an ocean-dwelling bird sitting on your TV stand. Around back, there are a decent number of ports: HDMI, USB 3.0 and Component all get a look-in. Plus there’s space to connect DStv decoders or an actual antenna, in case you still use those things.
Watch what I can do
But we don’t buy TVs only because they look pretty on the shelf, despite what Samsung wants you to think. And it’s here that Skyworth has a bit of a mixed bag going. In purely physical terms, the Skyworth UB7500 is a solid piece of hardware. The 4k LED panel manages to be both bright (capable of a max of 330 nits) and clear without overdoing your colours. There’s very little bleed, even from bright white areas into darker ones, and if you’re buying this to do a little gaming you’ll also be… okay… with the 8ms response time. It could be better but we didn’t notice any issues running around blowing gangsters away as Vito Scaletta in Mafia 2.
Blu-ray content looks fantastic, 4K content looks even better and even stuff that’s played at 720p is passable. Go below that and the last of fancy upscaling features, like those seen in LG and Samsung’s stables, become apparent. But this time Skyworth has at least opted for a full-sized remote. It hung its hat on voice control at one point and the tiny remote control they opted for… didn’t really work for us. Loads of buttons, that’s the thing for TV nerds.
But the remote isn’t perfect. Like the operating system, the remote… could do with a little more time in the design stages. Button placement could stand to be a little more obvious and organised. The problem is that LG and Samsung have that sort of thing sewn up and there are only so many ways you can arrange a remote control before opening yourself up to patent lawsuits (which is why broad patents are stupid, kids). We kinda get that one. But the OS itself could also be better.
The Skyworth UB7500 uses an Android-based operating system to get its point across. There are a couple of issues here but, on the whole, it’s not a bad OS. A little slow to start and a bit cumbersome to navigate at first, sure, but easy to get the hang of. If you’re mostly firing up Netflix or another streaming service (there are dedicated buttons on the remote for Netflix, YouTube and the TV’s dedicated media player), you’ll be a pro in no time. But the UB7500’s media player doesn’t play nice with every audio/video codec out there and a few of our files (mostly in the MKV format) ran into audio issues or were unplayable.
The set was a little too idiot-proof for our tastes, but we might be in the minority. LG’s TVs have all the options on display and we’re not scared of any of them. Skyworth probably just doesn’t want users accidentally setting the language to Polish or something.
Audio and picture features are a little basic, accessing the apps menu is a bit arcane (the button for it is a little too unobtrusive) — basically, if you’re looking for a high degree of control or a massive raft of features, you won’t find them here. But then, you also won’t find that sort of pricing either. Skyworth says this set has an RRP of R9,000 but you’ll find it for as low as R7,000 if you look around. That’s really not bad for a 55in 4K panel that looks like this. The software missteps can be forgiven.
Skyworth UB7500 Verdict
To break it down, the Skyworth UB7500 is a very competent TV set. It’s brilliant in some areas, it lacks in others but that’s something that could be fixed by a little more time in the lab. As it happens, Skyworth has a raft of new and updated sets coming before year-end, with more arriving in early 2021. If you’re wondering whether you should wait or snag this one, that really depends. If you’re after smarter features, but at a great price, then, by all means, hang on a little. But if you’re after something that’ll get the job done right now (and which might get a price drop in a few weeks), then the UB7500 is for you.