Review: Skyworth 50UC7500 4K LED LCD TV Offers A Colorful 4K Value
Skyworth has started selling its 2021 UC7500 series 4K Ultra HD direct-lit LED-LCD TV series, and we found the 50-inch version we tested to have an acceptably good picture performance for its relatively affordable $428 retail selling price (at the time of posting).
The Skyworth brand might be unfamiliar to many in the United States. The China-based manufacturer only recently began a push behind its television sets here, although it has been among the top TV brands in its domestic market and is one of the larger OEM/ODM TV manufacturers in the world. You might have to do a little hunting to find these sets here today, but retail distribution is spreading rapidly.
In North America, Skyworth continues to build out its 2021 4K Ultra HD television assortment with displays based on 4K OLED panels at its highest end of the range, and direct back-lit LED LCD TVs at the mid- and entry ranges. The latter, like the model reviewed here, are designed to appeal to the masses, and will be found in some warehouse clubs, and a rapidly growing assortment of TV appliance chains around the country.
In other countries including China, the company offers more advanced design-centric models, but it has elected to establish a foothold here by offering retailers and consumers more affordably priced 4K UHD TVs and some smaller-screen Full HD TVs that can be easily promoted. Clearly, though, the company aspires to bring higher performing models here in the near future.
The Skyworth UC7500 series sits in the middle of the company’s 4K Ultra HD Android TV product assortment offering a 10-bit, 60Hz VA-type direct backlit LED LCD panel (without local dimming). This means it handles colors reasonable well but has limited ability to offer very bright pictures, like HDR highlights. We would classify the series as a decent performing step-up from opening price point televisions, providing a few “better” features like slightly elevated brightness and a subjectively attractive thin-bezel design that should blend in well with most interiors.
The series should be good enough for anyone looking for an acceptable picture at a relatively affordable price. The Skyworth UC7500 includes four screen sizes 43- ($348 retail), 50- ($428), 55-($478), and 65-inches ($628), and we expect a comparable level of picture and sound performance across the model range.
Above it in the line is Skyworth’s top-tier UC8500 series LED-LCD TVs that add to the UC7500 a 120Hz native refresh rate panel, built-in Dolby Atmos surround sound processing, Dolby Vision HDR and built-in far field mics for Google Assistant voice commands. We point out that for the best performance from the brand, Skyworth offers a pair of 4K OLED TV series, which significantly step up the asking prices along with the features and picture performance.
The Skyworth 50UC7500 tends to perform best in moderately well-lit rooms, presenting some visible screen glare that isn’t overwhelming. The issue is most noticeable in lit rooms when viewing dark scenes. The VA-type LCD technology used here doesn’t hold onto color saturation and contrast at very wide or high/low viewing angles.
We found some uniformity issues related to dirty screen effect on 100% gray-screen test patterns. This can show through into some real world images with pans across solid bright backgrounds like bright skies or surface-angled underwater sequences from 8-bit sources.
The smart TV platform is one of the key strengths of the series. The Android TV OS 10 platform is better than the older v.9 (Pie) version but less flashy and with more lag than than TVs running the new Google TV overlaying interface found on some 2021 Sony and TCL Android TV models. It also lacks some of the functionality of Samsung’s Tizen and LG’s webOS smart TVs. We compare it to some lower-priced Roku TVs, which also offer an extensive library of easily accessible streaming service apps and user-friendly program search tools.
Setup and use of the set was relatively intuitive, and we found it easy to find programs from an expansive range of available streaming platforms. It also includes built-in support for Google Assistant voice control and will work with Alexa smart speakers for those who prefer Amazon’s home control platform.
Skyworth offers what the company calls its “Boundless Vision” screen, referring to a “bezel-less design.” Actually, the thin black plastic bezel is visible as a near pencil-thin trim around four-sides of the screen; the black plastic color tends to blend easily into darker surroundings making the screen appear to be borderless if you squint your eyes just right. The overall construction of the set is made of lightweight mat-black plastic with two standard claw-type feet positioned toward the right and left ends of the screen attaching under the bezel chin. This makes for a relatively solid table top placement without significant screen wobble if gently nudged from the top of the screen.
Skyworth packages a Bluetooth voice remote with built-in 2-way communication to accept spoken commands for the built-in Google Assistant by pressing the Google a mic activation button on the remote. This features a rectangular two-tone plastic case with a textured faux-chrome face plate, black buttons and solid black backing. The buttons are not backlit, so it can be hard to see control selections in the dark. The long narrow handset fits comfortably in the palm and most of the buttons can be reached by the thumb in one-hand operation by sliding the unit up and down. Skyworth offers four quick access buttons to rapidly get into the Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and GooglePlay apps. The latter simply calls up the scrollable menu of all available apps on the TV.
The UC7500 series have three on-board HDMI 2.0b ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and Ethernet port, antenna/cable (ATSC 1.0/QAM) input, optical digital output, and RCA analog A/V connections. The ports are positioned on the back of the panel facing out to the left side of the screen for easier wall mounting. Wireless connections include built-in a Wi-Fi receiver and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity to link with smart devices.
Android TV 10
The Skyworth UC7500 runs the Android TV v. 10 operating system without the overlaying Google TV user interface. Unfortunately, HDMI-CEC implementation here did not want to cooperate with our connected Denon AVR and daisy chained source components, wanting to turn on a connected Ultra HD Blu-ray player when ever we tried to operate a Roku Ultra media streaming player on a different source input. This required us to disconnect which ever device we didn’t want to view when attempting to play the other. We ended up turning HDMI-CEC (HDMI Control) off.
Skyworth offers a nice selection of apps here, including most of the major ones like Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, hulu, Apple TV+, Peacock, HBO Max, YouTube, YouTube TV and many others.
The Android TV 10 interface offers a nice scrolling rows of app sources, inputs and program thumbnails to quickly find a program a user might like to watch, but this is very much the same as other Android TVs in this class.
Picture Settings and Calibration
Skyworth doesn’t provide much in the way of advanced picture control settings to tweak performance to the viewing environment. So don’t expect to fine tune color temperature or color management accuracy. It’s pretty much what you see is what you get out of the box from the preset picture modes that can be changed for different content.
The good news is that we found most of the preset modes for Standard Dynamic Range (SDR)/BT.709 content to be reasonably accurate out of the box viewing in moderately well-lit room, and we did measured a near perfect 2.2 gamma level from the middle setting.
High Dynamic Range
The UC7500 series supports HDR using the baseline HDR10 (static metadata) and HLG (live broadcast) high dynamic range profiles. This series does not support Dolby Vision dynamic metadata. Using a direct-backlit LED system, the UC7500 doesn’t get very bright or offer any local dimming control to fine tune deep black and bright highlights in the picture. The 4K Ultra HD set and resolution looks marginally better than Full HD 1080p, but the set’s limited brightness hampers HDR specular highlights and is well below “premium” TV measure thresholds, as established by the Ultra HD Alliance.
We measured post-calibrated peak SDR brightness at 121.9 nits and calibrated HDR peak luminance at a consistent 295.77 nits across 2% to 100% D65 white window patterns. The “premium HDR television” performance threshold for a 4K UHD LCD-based TV is 1,000 nits, by UHDA standards.
Similarly, the TV lacks quantum dot color filters, and doesn’t cover a very wide color gamut by 4K standards, with DCI-P3 measurements coming in under 80% of the recommended range for professional movie theaters. Ninety percent or higher is required by UHDA to quality as a premium 4K Ultra HDTV.
This series uses direct-lit LED backlighting without local dimming, which significantly limits peak brightness for high dynamic range. It uses a VA-type 10-bit LCD panel with reasonably respectable color for a non-OLED/non-QLED displays, but the 60 Hz native refresh rate makes for some noticeable motion blurring and judder.
Real World Viewing
For most real-world viewing, the television generally passes the eye test viewing much of today’s HD and Full HD SDR content. We find the television tends to be best suited to video-based source material, but it handles 4K UHD and standard Full HD Blu-ray movies reasonably well if you don’t expect too much from HDR content.
The “Coral Reef” chapter scenes for the BBC’s Blue Planet II 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc are vividly brilliant and appear naturally and accurately well saturated presenting the native 4K source material on the UC7500 screen. However, the set’s lack of brightness did crush out some of the visible stars in the opening shot of Mars against a starfield background used in the opening title sequence of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc version of The Martian.
Here too, the fine shadow detail in the shadowed areas of the rocky peak landscape of the Martian surface are completely engulfed by the surrounding black shading. Also diminished are the bright specular highlights from the LED instrument panels in the spaceship interior sequences and the flashlight beacons that shine out through the helmet visors of the space-suited astronauts.
The swirling misty clouds that surround Voldemort and his army of dark wizards preparing for battle in the standard Full HD Blu-ray Disc version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 that give some premium 4K/HDR television fits refining the intend gray color from an amorphous black blog, are completely crushed into the black background by the 50UC7500.
However, in bright settings, like the snow covered mountain slopes in the Dolby’s Blu-ray Disc version of the ski-boarding classic The Art of Flight, the UC7500 does and excellent job of avoiding clipping in bright highlighted areas while nicely separating whites from blue-shadowed accents in the snow landscapes.
Upconverted SD content from sources including DVDs or YouTube video of old 4:3 television programs are considerably softer in appearance than Full HD Blu-ray content, and even from the way they are presented by televisions with more powerful picture processing. You might want to take that into consideration if you have a large DVD library you tend to view a lot.
The video processing in the UC7500 does a reasonably acceptable job at upscaling lower resolution for 4K Ultra HD Resolution and 10-bit color. However, we observed some quantization (banding) artifacts in 8-bit source content around bright objects against a solid color background, like a setting sun against a horizon.
Lacking full-array with local dimming backlighting, the set didn’t present patchy blooming artifacts that appear as clouds around localized clusters of bright objects on black backgrounds, like the moving starfield test patterns on the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Blu-ray/HDR test disc. However, blooming does appear on the direct backlit LED system spread out across the whole screen, washing out the contrast in the deep black background. But the set does a nice job of preventing the backlight from spilling over into the black letterboxed borders on widescreen Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray disc movies, or into the black borders to the left and right sides of more square-framed 4:3 material.
Upscaled 480p content, such as that found on DVD movies, appear somewhat softer than we’ve seen on more premium level displays.
Significant moving noise artifacts and MPEG blocking can be seen in the white sky backgrounds of the Beatles’ animation classic Yellow Submarine on DVD. However the colors are quite satisfying and in one of the few instances where I would ever recommend it, the “vivid” picture mode made the colors and experience appear as engaging as we remember it from the theater. The vivid mode setting also helped to take our attention from the upconverted background noise, which we were able to further mitigate (though not completely) by putting DNR, Adaptive Luma Control, Local Contrast Control and MPEG NR on “high” or “strong”. Under normal circumstances we turn all of these off or set to medium, as the preset picture modes dictate.
Skyworth uses a 60Hz LED panel in the UC7500 series, which produces some noticeable motion blurring and image judder. This might present distracting issues to some with programming like live sports events. Unfortunately, changing the television’s picture modes has not noticeable effect on these artifacts. If your eyes are particularly sensitive to this you might want to step up to a series, like Skyworth’s UC8500, with a 120Hz native refresh rate panel, especially for watching live sports. Of look for a brand noted for having particularly strong motion processing like Sony or Samsung.
As mentioned, Skyworth doesn’t give users any motion setting controls to fine tune motion for clearer overall pictures of rapidly moving objects and camera pans or image judder, as found in upconverted 24p film-based content. The pre-established motion processing adjustments do a nice job at minimizing the dreaded (for some people and content creators) soap opera effect, where movies and film-based images resemble overly sharpened video.
Significant judder will be seen in up-converted 24p content, like most high-action film-based movies and television programs. This improves slightly with 30p (video) material and is relatively stable with 60i originated sources. This is easily observable in upscaled clips from the “Sarah In A Hammock” clips provided on the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark 2nd Edition Standard Blu-ray test disc.
The 50UC7500 uses a VA-type panel with narrow viewing angles. Moving several steps to the left or right of center screen or looking at the screen from a high or low angle, such as standing up from a seated viewing position, tends to washout contrast and color saturation. That’s not unusual for televisions in this price class. However, this should be kept in mind if you tend to mount the set on a wall, where some viewers will be watching from wide or elevated angles to the screen. The best position will be as close to seated front dead center as possible.
The Skyworth 50UC7500 lacks HDMI 2.1 inputs and many of the advanced gaming features covered in that spec., so this isn’t a recommended display for high-level competition. However, for casual gamers the set will present the bulk of available video games authored for legacy console systems, and even some newer PS5 and Xbox Series X titles, reasonably well.
The television has no special “game” mode and changing the picture mode settings between “user”, “vivid”, “standard”, “sport”, and “movie” had no measurable effect in adjusting input lag time. We measured a 1080p/60Hz input signal at a somewhat pedestrian 28.4 milliseconds, which is about what we would expect in this price class.
The on-board sound system gets the job done without many bells or whistles. Dialog is clear and can get reasonably loud, although the overall tone tends to have a hollow quality, and loud or deep sound effects like explosions and gun shots lack some definition and punch. However, the set uses up-firing speakers mounted on the back of the screen that tend to expand the sense of space around the television and envelope listeners seated in front of the set from the front and top of the screen. The 50UC7500 supports standard Dolby surround processing with modes for “standard”, “music”, “sport” and “movie”. Skyworth’s step-up series add Dolby Atmos processing with will widen the sound stage. As with virtually all flat-panel televisions we recommend adding on a soundbar or a multi-channel home theater speaker system.
We found the Skyworth 50UC7500 to be a recommended mid-range LED LCD TV performer for anyone in the market for an affordable TV well suited for a dorm or secondary room, like a bedroom or playroom. Viewing Full HD images upscaled to 4K UHD is good, especially for live video newscasts, YouTube programs and the like. Movie viewing is about what we would expect from a set of this size selling for under $500. Handling high dynamic range and dark shadow detail isn’t a strength of the TV and some blooming and shadow detail crushing will be visible in dark-scene content. But this is typical of an LED-LCD televisions this affordable, and its color reproduction is above average for a non-QLED product. The built-in sound and Android TV 10 operating system put it well above door-buster specials.
We therefore award the Skyworth 50UC7500 3 out of 5 hearts.
The Skyworth 50UC7500 used for this review was a company loan.
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By Greg Tarr
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