It’s inevitable that a TV manufacturer focuses its attention on flagship models, but that most seem to put very little effort into their entry-level models is pretty unforgivable.
Samsung is practically alone in making its core performance and feature set available at extremely low prices, as is typified by the new UE43TU7100, which is more or less the cheapest 4K model that the company currently makes.
There is actually one cheaper model, the UE43TU7000, but the two TVs differ only in their finishes – the TU7100 on review here has a smart-looking dark silver finish, while the TU7000 is plain black. Samsung suggests that the sets are otherwise identical so, if you don’t mind the slightly more basic appearance, you could save a little more money by going for the TU7000.
Both models come with plastic-feeling but quite elegant-looking plastic feet that give the set a fairly wide footprint of around 85cm and raise the set around 7cm above the surface upon which it’s placed. That’s a perfect space for a soundbar such as the Sonos Beam.
The raised bezel is nice and thin, but there’s a small gap between the bezel and the point at which the display proper begins, which seems rather like cheating. Without the feet, the set measures around 6cm deep, which is slim but not super-skinny.
Around the back, the connections amount to aerial, ethernet and USB sockets, an optical audio output and two HDMIs. Even at this end of the market, it’s rare for a TV to have so few HDMI connections, but we suspect it’s a limitation that will affect few buyers. A typical system here is likely to involve a soundbar connected to the eARC-enabled HDMI 2, and a source such as a PVR or games console, connected to HDMI 1.
Screen type LCD with edge LED backlight
Operating system Samsung Tizen
HDR formats HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
You won’t need to give one of the HDMIs over to a dedicated streamer, because the TU7100 gets the same Tizen operating system as Samsung’s flagship sets. It’s absolutely packed with apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Rakuten, Disney+ and Apple TV – all in 4K and HDR10 (HDR10+ in the cases of Amazon and Rakuten).
BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5 are here too, and Now TV, BT TV and BT Sport give you contract-free access to the exclusive programming of Sky and BT. Plex, meanwhile, allows for local streaming of your own media files, and music and radio can be streamed via Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, BBC Sounds and TuneIn. AirPlay 2 is also on board, giving iOS users yet another way of getting content on to the TV.
The Tizen operating system is clean and intuitive, too, although it does feel a little sluggish in operation here compared with Samsung’s more powerful sets. It’s nothing too bothersome, just a little bit of lag as you switch between apps and scroll along the home menu. The TU7100 has a basic, plastic remote (you have to go up to the TU8000 to get the smarter, stripped-back One Remote), and doesn’t have voice control built-in – though it can respond to commands issued via an Alexa- or Google Assistant-powered speaker.
In more core technology terms, this is an LCD model with an edge LED backlight. It supports HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG but not Dolby Vision (no Samsung TV supports the Dolby format). Its HDMIs support ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), which automatically switches to the TV’s Game mode when a gaming signal is detected, and that Game mode reduces input lag to a very low 18ms. VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) isn’t supported, but that’s to be expected at this price.
We fire up the HDR10+ 4K Blu-ray of 1917 and are instantly impressed with the TU7100’s picture. It’s compromised, of course, as it has to be at this end of the market, but those compromises are in the right places and the set delivers an enjoyable core performance.
The set clearly doesn’t have the contrast range of a higher-end model, but blacks are surprisingly deep for a TV that costs so little and there’s plenty of overall punch. As Lance Corporal Schofield looks across the river to Écoust-Saint-Mein, it is clear that the TU7100 is a sharp and detailed performer, with individual bricks discernible in the building on the opposite shore and the whole scene rendered with solid three-dimensionality.
As Schofield cautiously climbs the building’s dimly lit stairs, the Samsung provides lots of insight, digging up details that most sets at this price simply can’t find. Crucially, this crispness and detail is delivered without any sense of artificiality or over-enhancement, and the same is true of the way the TU7100 handles motion. Switch the processing from the default Auto to Custom and the set strikes a good balance between smoothing and authenticity.
The overall palette of 1917 is subdued, and the TU7100 responds accordingly, avoiding boosting certain shades the way that other sets sometimes do. We’ve seen the French fields rendered in a rather lurid green that’s at odds with the film’s overall tone, but that’s not the case here.
That’s not to say that the TU7100 isn’t vibrant when it needs to be. We switch to Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 on 4K Blu-ray, and the TV does an excellent job with the neon-lit title sequence and the rainbow-breathing, neon gunk-filled Abilisk.
Dropping down to Fargo on 1080p Blu-ray, the TU7100 proves to be a capable upscaler. The image is sharp, detailed and tonally balanced, and the set reduces picture noise without removing the intentional film grain. We notice the slight lack of black depth here more than with HDR content, but it still goes decently deep and combines that with good insight and punchy highlights.
The TU7100 does an admirable job with standard-def content, whether from the integrated tuner, one of its many apps or a treasured DVD. Our well-worn copy of Dirty Harry is clean and controlled, with vibrant but natural colours. All told, this is an excellent picture performance for a TV of this size and at this low price. You’d have to spend a fair bit more to get a significant improvement.
It comes as little surprise that the TU7100’s 20W sound system is no sonic masterpiece, and you’d be well advised to budget for a soundbar with which to partner it. However, if you are determined to make do with the built-in speakers, their output is perfectly passable.
There are three sound modes available and each has its own relative merits. Standard is best suited for most content, as it’s the clearest and most focused. Amplify boosts bass and treble and opens up the sound, making it a good option for movie night, and Adaptive Sound, in our room at least, seems to split the difference.
With all modes, the treble is a bit insistent and there’s a predictable lack of weight, solidity and dynamism that’s to be expected at this level. However, by prevailing standards, the TU7100 sounds good.
The TU7100 is about as affordable as TVs get and, as long as you’re not expecting the moon on a stick, you will be delighted by its performance.
Expectations should be tempered at this end of the market, of course, and while the TV has its limits, it does a remarkably good job in terms of core picture and sound performance, and boasts the best, most-app packed operating system in the business. As long as you can live with only two HDMIs, there’s little reason not to buy.
- Picture 5
- Sound 4
- Features 5
Read our Samsung UE43RU7470 review
Read our Toshiba 43UK4B63DB review
Read our Hisense R50B7120UK review