It’s fair to say that the standard of budget TVs has dropped significantly in recent years. We used to be able to rely on Samsung to produce impressively capable and feature-packed TVs at accessible prices, but no budget TV from Samsung has achieved higher than four stars in the past two years – and most have been rated lower.
It looks as though salvation could be at hand, though, from a slightly unlikely source – Amazon.
Before we received the 65-inch Amazon Omni QLED in for review, we were expecting a TV packed with features and an eye-opening specification for the money, but likely short of cinematic quality. What we found was a TV that combined a very strong feature set and specs with surprisingly considered picture quality. It fell just short of a five-star rating on account of a slight lack of shadow detail and some smearing to motion but, knowing how much variation there can be between different-sized versions of the ‘same’ TV, we were keen to do a dedicated review of the 50-inch model.
So here we are, with the 50-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED which, as you will have spotted, gets the final, fifth star that its bigger brother missed out on.
The 50-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED is officially priced at £650 / $530 (around AU$1250), which, as you will see, is very good value for the features and performance on offer.
Even so, you shouldn’t pay that much for it. That’s because Amazon has regularly discounted it since launch – and by large amounts. We have seen it go as low as £400 / $350 – and at those sorts of prices it’s a pretty incredible bargain. At anything below £500 / $500, we would say this is an excellent buy.
The 50-inch version of the Omni QLED has a slightly less premium design than the larger models, with the silver metal accents having been sacrificed in favour of plain black plastic. The feet are black plastic, too, and as with the 65-inch model, they are positioned right at the extremes of the bottom edge, giving the set an unhelpfully wide footprint. The bezels on the sides and top of the screen are decently thin, though, allowing the display itself to do most of the talking.
Also as with the 65-inch model, the 50-inch Omni QLED has an unusually large undercarriage. This houses several sensors and microphones, the former primarily for the so-called Ambient Experience, which is essentially a screensaver that activates when the TV does a Darth Vader and feels your presence, the latter for – you guessed it – voice control.
As you can probably imagine, Alexa is baked right into the Omni QLED user experience, allowing you to control almost every function using your voice. It also works like a standalone Echo, too, so you can control lights, music and any other Alexa-compatible device via the Omni QLED without the screen itself even turning on.
That isn’t to say that you have to use the TV’s Alexa functionality at all, though – there’s a perfectly serviceable remote control handset in the box as well as an old-school physical switch beneath the TV that entirely disables the microphones. A red light appears in the undercarriage to confirm that the TV is not listening.
Just as unsurprising as Alexa featuring prominently in the Omni QLED’s makeup is the fact that it features the Fire TV smart platform – that’s sort of the whole point of the TV.
Screen size 50 inches (also available in 43in, 55in, 65in, 75in)
Backlight Full-Array LED
HDR formats supported HLG, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Operating system Fire OS
HDMI inputs x4
Gaming features VRR, ALLM, Dolby Vision game mode
Optical output? Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand) 66 x 112 x 8.4cm
The Omni QLED’s app support is, in fact, near-flawless. All of the big hitters, including Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV and, yes, Prime Video are on board, but so are less ubiquitous, localised services such as Now and Discovery+ (the new home of BT Sport / TNT Sports) in the UK. All of the UK’s catch-up apps are also present, as well as a Freeview tuner for live, over-the-air broadcasts.
The Omni QLED also goes further than even flagship TVs from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony by offering support for all four current HDR standards; HLG, HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. In fact, it goes as far as offering Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive – versions of the respective formats that automatically adjust to ambient lighting conditions, which are of course measured by those sensors built into the underside of the TV.
The pure panel technology is more advanced than is standard at this price, too. As the name suggests, this is a QLED TV that uses Quantum Dots to (in theory at least) reproduce more vibrant colours than are possible from a standard LCD TV. It not only features direct LED (rather than edge LED) backlighting, which should result in extra brightness, but also local dimming across 48 individual zones (compared with the 80 zones of the 65-inch model), which should make for better contrast than is available from TVs without local dimming.
Gaming specs are also better than the budget TV norm. As with the 65-inch model, this is a 60Hz panel, so 4K/120Hz is always going to be out of reach, but VRR and ALLM are supported across all four of the set’s HDMI ports. One of those ports is also eARC-enabled so can send uncompressed Dolby Atmos signals to a soundbar or AV receiver (assuming that also supports eARC).
It would be easy to assume that Amazon had used its might to gather eyebrow-raisingly impressive components for the money yet paid little attention to the finer details of picture quality, but the Omni QLED provides evidence of genuine effort. We’re not saying that this is a giant-killer of a TV that you should consider if an OLED is within reach, but we are saying that it’s a surprisingly consistent and considered performer that works within its means to provide a very satisfying and authentic picture.
Watching Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, we find the Dolby Vision Dark mode to be too dim even in a pitch-black room, Dolby Vision Bright is good, though, combining deep blacks with satisfyingly punchy highlights. This isn’t a TV that sets out to dazzle, though – it instead opts for balance. In a shop, that would look like dullness next to the super-vivid TVs adjacent, but at home, it’s natural in a way that means you don’t question the delivery and instead focus purely on what you are watching. That’s a more impressive feat than you might imagine, particularly at this level.
Colours successfully tread the fine line between vibrancy and subtlety, and skin tones are natural and fairly delicately shaded, avoiding the waxy appearance that many budget sets are guilty of producing. Edges are sharp without over-exaggeration, and while detail levels obviously aren’t up there with those of the best higher-end TVs, they are impressive for the price, with Harrison Ford’s scars, wrinkles and grey stubble resolved in satisfying fashion.
When the action moves to a network of caves later in the movie, the Omni QLED proves itself capable of producing decently deep blacks for a backlit TV; and while the black bars are a little less black than they should be, particularly in the corners, that is mild and easy to ignore. What’s more, the backlight is very consistent overall, with no patchiness and no obvious blooming.
The 65-inch version of the Omni QLED missed out on a fifth star primarily because of a slight lack of shadow detail and some patchiness to colours in low-light scenes, but this 50-inch model is better in these regards, particularly the former. We certainly don’t feel as though we are missing out on any of the action in the cave scenes, and we have tested plenty of TVs that look murky here.
Another issue raised in our review of the 65-inch model was a certain amount of smearing to motion, most notable as people move their heads. This flaw is still present with this 50-inch model, though it’s slightly less pronounced, and certainly isn’t something that gets in the way of an enjoyable movie night.
Switching to Pan in HDR10 (we actually opt for the Film Dark preset with standard HDR10 and HLG content), it’s clear that the Omni QLED lacks the brightness headroom to do real justice to movies mastered to a very high peak, and the brightest highlights are a little over-exposed, but the TV does a good job overall of tailoring the presentation to its limits.
Dropping down to HD with 1991’s The Fisher King demonstrates that while the Omni QLED isn’t an upscaler of the level of a top Sony or LG TV, it again produces a nicely balanced picture in terms of contrast, colours and sharpness, though a little more noise-suppression would be nice.
Broadly speaking, the key to the Omni QLED’s success in terms of picture quality is the way it works within its means rather than attempts to perform feats of which it’s incapable – a common trait of budget TVs. The same is true of its audio performance.
There is no Dolby Atmos processing here and no attempt to go particularly bassy, so you get neither the spaciousness nor weight that the best TVs deliver. What you do get is a very clear and direct delivery that avoids the sort of low-end distortion that is common from TV speakers – even those of very high-end sets.
In terms of detail and dynamics the sound is unremarkable but fine, and there is nothing in the presentation that distracts or annoys. There’s a lot to be said for that, particularly at this end of the TV market.
Of course, a budget soundbar will enhance your movie enjoyment significantly, and we heartily recommend that you stretch your budget to include one if at all possible.
The standard of budget TVs is lower now than it has been in years, but that’s not to take away from the Omni QLED’s performance, which is markedly more assured, considered and authentically cinematic than expected at this level, now or in the past.
The Amazon Omni QLED clearly isn’t up there with the latest OLED models, but if those are out of reach, this is an excellent compromise that will give you authentically cinematic entertainment for very little money (and effort).
- Picture 5
- Sound 4
- Features 4
Going bigger? Here's our 65-inch Amazon Omni QLED review
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