For those of you not currently in China you may not know who LeEco are but they are about to make some positive waves in the US.
LeEco, formally LeTV are a company similar to Netflix, essentially a provider of television and movie programming. Now imagine if you will Netflix deciding that it would be easier to get you to watch their service if they just sold you the device as well with a years free subscription to boot. This is basically what LeECo have done.
The LeECo SuperTV is their first foray on to US shores and I have been lucky enough to get one early to try and let you know what I think. This is a first look and not a review because the software is not fully completed and I don’t review unfinished work.
I have been to a lot of tech shows featuring 4k over the last few years where TV companies have been telling us to throw out our thousand dollar 1080p TV’s and get their new one instead. And up until now I have been disinclined to do that. The SuperTV however helped me see a new way.
The SuperTV is wonderful looking to my eyes. The Aluminium frame and heavy weight stand give it a solid, industrial feel while the curve of the stand ads a dramatic flare. At 55 inches the SuperTV fills a large amount of space and mounted on the wall is probably it’s best home. Personally I like my TV on a counter top so I can get behind it easily but for most mounting will be best.
LeECo have used a dark plastic on the back that is almost see through which not only helps keep the weight down but shows of the internals for those of us who like circuit porn. With multiple ports on the back and sides the SuperTV is equipped to support the biggest geek. I have a chromecast, Xbox One, PS3, Wii and an old Sega plugged into mine and it still has ports to spare. It even has a USB 3.0 port for adding an external hard drive. I’ve tried it with a 1TB WD HDD and it plays movies at 1080p with no juddering or lag at all. Brilliant idea to include a USB 3.0 it really is.
The panel on the SuperTV is great. I use “great” here and not “Fabulous” or “Stunning” or “Amazeballs” because it isn’t. I’m afraid that accolade goes to the Samsung Oled curved display. However that doesn’t diminish the SuperTV in the slightest. At it’s price point it is truly great, with crisp clear lines even at 720p and excellent colour saturation. At 4k the screen is something to behold with a depth of quality that takes your breath away. The SuperTV comes with a 4k channel with lots of test footage and watching them really brings home the difference, often it’s like looking through a window it is that sharp and clear. 4k is the future and the future is bright guys, it really is.
I use my SuperTV a lot for playing Xbox One and as you may know the max resolution for it is only 1080p. That doesn’t mean the quality is lacking on the SuperTV however. The images are still sharp and since the latest software update they feel smoother almost like they increased the framerate, I don’t think they did but it feels like it. I am constantly stopping at some vista on Destiny or some beautiful crafted scene in Tomb Raider and just looking. It really is a great screen.
Smart or Sort of Smart?
The SuperTV runs Android but not Android TV. Due to issues connecting to Google Services the android part of the TV is run as EUI, LeEco’s own brand of Android.
The positive side of this is the ability to sideload apps. If you have ever used an Android phone you are probably aware that you can download apps from websites and load them onto your phone without using the Play Store. The same is true for the SuperTV. I recently creating a tutorial on the LE Forum to show you how to it and it can be found here. It really is a simple process and I recommend installing the Amazon Appstore as soon as possible to replace the Google store.
The flip side of the coin is the lack of Google products. I managed to sideload the Youtube TV app but it doesn’t allow 4k streaming without play services. If, like me, you use your Google account for everything it’s a trifle annoying not to be able to link it to your TV but that really is the height of First World Problems. The lack of Google apps is certainly not a deal breaker and LeECo are still working hard to expand the android side of the TV. Through the Amazon Appstore you can still install the major apps you want like Netflix and Hulu, both of which work great on the SuperTV.
Special mention to the bluetooth on the TV. I have downloaded a couple of excellent emulators and bought a $20 bluetooth game controller and a wireless keyboard and it works amazingly well. I currently have DosBox running the original Dune and a Snes emulator running the ever awesome Mario 3.
So is it worth it?
LeEco are a new company just coming into the US and still have a few kinks to work out. Be that as it may the SuperTV is still a huge bargain for a 4K TV. The design and overall quality of the display makes this an insanely good entry point into the 4K world.