Kodak 43-CA-Pro smart TV review: Good budget 4K Android TV
Kodak has a wide range of smart TVs in India mainly catering to the entry-level segment. While they generally offer reasonable performance and features for the price, they aren't at the same level as TVs from Xiaomi or Hisense. Their flagship CA series has been a different kettle of fish though that manages to click a lot more boxes and offers much better performance. The company recently launched the CA Pro series of smart TVs with more RAM and a newer version of Android TV that promises a smoother and better performance. What other enhancements does this series bring to the table and is it worth buying? We got our hands on the 43-inch model from the Kodak CA Pro series. Time to look at it closely.
Neat design, decent connectivity options barring a few
Like most TV these days, the Kodak 43 CA Pro TV also has a near bezel-less design on three sides, with a thicker bottom bezel that hosts an IR receiver and a power LED. It looks almost identical to its predecessor. While there is nothing bad about the design, the company could have tweaked it a bit. The TV isn't too bulky and is quite light, not that you are going to move it around too often. The ports are located closer to the center of the TV rather than near the edge, making them slightly less accessible if you wall mount the TV. But given that this is a relatively smaller screen, it is manageable. All ports are side-facing, which is good. The TV can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled mount or metal stands respectively. The metal stands feel rugged and hold the TV firmly in place. You get a voice enabled remote and a pair of AAA batteries to power it. The remote control here is quite different from the one available with the CA series. It is a positive change with a clutter-free design sporting just the necessary keys without missing out on any important function. There is a common sense approach to the key layout—a simple thing that a lot of brands overlook. In the connectivity department, you have the usual spread. You get three HDMI ports, one of which supports ARC, two USB 2.0 ports, Optical audio out, A/V input and a LAN port. Despite Kodak listing it in the spec-sheet, an analogue audio out option like a headphone jack is missing here. Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. Support for 5GHz network has been omitted, something I had hoped would change from its predecessor.
IPS panel, good processing hardware but limited HDR compliance
This Kodak 43 CA Pro TV has a 43-inch IPS panel with an Ultra-HD (4K) resolution of 3840x2160 pixels and a 60Hz refresh rate. It has a rated peak brightness of 450-nits. The TV supports popular HDR standards like HDR10/10+ and HLG with 10-bit color depth. It is not compliant with Dolby Vision, something I do not expect from budget TVs. It is powered by a quad-core processor with four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.5GHz each and a Mali-450 GPU. You get 2GB of RAM (up from 1.75GB on CA series) and 8GB internal storage, half of which is taken up by the Android TV 10 OS and pre-installed apps. The remaining space can be used for installing more apps. Like all certified Android TVs, it has Chromecast built-in and lets you cast content to the TV from compatible apps on your phone or tablet. Sound output is bumped up to 40W with support for Dolby Digital MS12 and DTS TruSurround. The wireless remote control operates over IR and Bluetooth both. You can pair it with the TV by pressing the corresponding buttons as instructed during setup. Post that, everything other than the power button operates over Bluetooth. Once paired, you can bring up Google Assistant by pressing the corresponding key and issue voice commands that work well with minimal delay.
Android TV 10 with clean UI and quick settings option
This Kodak TV runs the official Android TV 10 OS and has a stock user interface. Actually, it has the new Google TV-like user interface that you see on Android TVs these days. It looks a bit more polished and is fairly simple to grasp with a row of your favorite apps and others that display the recently played or suggested content from various OTT platforms. Things are pretty standard here except that the sound and picture adjustments have been moved to the quick settings menu from the main Android settings. The UI is responsive and lag-free. Apps for Netflix and Prime Video are pre-installed, and there's hardly any bloatware. This TV gives you access to sound and picture settings on the fly while viewing content from any source or app or even on the TV's home screen. All you need to do is press the Menu button on the remote to bring up the quick settings and make the necessary adjustments. You don't have to shut the video or exit the app while doing it.
Good color reproduction and SDR performance, but no HDR benefits
The overall picture quality is above average for a budget TV. The panel here isn't among the brightest I have come across, and while it doesn't impact the SDR performance as much, you hardly get any noticeable HDR benefits. When viewing SDR content, the contrast is manageable, and details in dark areas in high contrast scenes were just about visible. However, there was noticeable flickering in high contrast scenes when watching HDR content. Black levels are average and at par for budget TVs. The color reproduction of this TV is quite impressive though. The colors appear close to natural and are easy on the eyes. The default tuning is not bad, but with a little bit of picture adjustments, you can get the best out of the IPS panel here. You get a handful of picture tweaks ranging from saturation, brightness, contrast, sharpness to more advanced options like white balance and color temperature. And of course, you also have picture presets for quick adjustments. You get the same set of presets in HDR and SDR content. As mentioned earlier, the HDR10 content doesn't look noticeably different from SDR due to insufficient brightness. While the contrast isn't better, it isn't erratic either like in case of certain budget TVs. 4K content looks sharp and 1080p videos are upscaled really well and look equally sharp and vibrant. 720p upscaling is also pretty good and HD videos are perfectly watchable given that it's a 43-inch screen. Anything with lower resolution looks noticeably soft. The viewing angles are pretty broad thanks to the IPS panel.
Improved sound output and generally good performance for the price
A pair of bottom firing speakers rated at 40W deliver good sound output. The audio is loud with good clarity and seems like a definite improvement over its predecessor, and it is not the extra wattage that I speak of. The sound is loud enough even around the 30% mark and rarely did I have to go beyond 50%. While there is more than a hint of bass, the speakers are tuned for better vocal clarity. The built-in speakers are more than adequate when watching news, sports or vocal heavy content, and the experience in movies and web series is also decent. The speakers are tuned well out of the box, and you have a few sound adjustments to tweak the sound a little more. The speakers are compliant with Dolby Digital audio as well as DTS TruSurround but not Dolby Atmos. Anyway, Atmos doesn't really make a world of difference on basic TV speakers. If you want a better audio experience, one can always plug in a budget soundbar with a subwoofer. Make sure it has HDMI or optical input, as this TV does not have an analog audio output port. The TV takes less than 40 seconds to boot when you switch it on from the mains, which is reasonable for Android TVs. After that, it comes back on in a couple of seconds from standby mode. The default media player was good enough to handle all our test videos with different codecs including 4K videos via USB.
A good budget 4K TV that gets the basics right
The Kodak 43 CA Pro smart TV can be purchased for Rs. 27,999 with a one year warranty on Flipkart, and often sells for a thousand or two less. That makes it one of the more affordable Android TVs with a 4K IPS panel, good picture quality, Android TV 10 platform and decent sound output. However, it is just a minor upgrade over the CA series, mainly in terms of RAM and sound output. It still lacks support for Dolby Vision, 5GHz Wi-Fi, and the HDR performance is nothing worth writing home about. Kodak could have probably added some of those features to make the CA Pro stand out more. Having said that, this 43-inch TV is a decent buy if you can find one closer to Rs. 25,000. But the competition is stiff in this segment as you move closer to Rs. 30,000. The 43-inch variant from Blaupunkt's Cybersound series (43CSA7070) is currently selling for Rs. 27,999 too. It offers slightly better HDR performance, better audio output, dual-band Wi-Fi and a more attractive design. Rest of the features are quite similar to the Kodak CA Pro. If you are looking for Dolby Vision compliance, you can consider the Hisense 43A6GE that sells for a couple of thousands more. That too supports 5GHz Wi-Fi and you get twice the internal storage, but you will have to make do with a generation-old Android TV 9 platform.