Today we’re looking at the 50-inch Cello Platinum, a 4K Android smart TV offered for the low price of just £400. That’s pretty cheap, yet the TV still includes an integrated 16W soundbar, a fancy ‘air mouse’ remote and of course that desirable 3840 x 2160 resolution. What corners have been cut to deliver that low price point? Let’s found our in our full review.
- 50″ Platinum 4K Ultra HD widescreen LED TV
- Android Smart TV with built-in Wi-Fi
- USB 2.0 – play media files from other devices
- Six speaker 16W soundbar: 4x 8W sub-woofers, 2x 8W treble
- Air mouse remote control
- HDMI x 3 inputs for external devices & consoles
- Can be wall mounted (400mm x 400mm bracket not included)
The Cello Platinum looks pretty similar to other low-end TVs, wrapping its inexpensive 55-inch 4K panel with a fairly chunky bezel wrought from black plastic. Below this you’ll find the TV’s unique selling point: an integrated soundbar, tucked just beneath the display. That means that the screen is a little higher than you’ll find on most TVs, and because Cello have included some electronics (e.g. the remote sensor) inside the soundbar as well, it’s impossible to remove or swap out.
On the back, you’ll find the usual options for ports and features – a couple of USB ports, optical and digital audio in and out, Component, Composite, three HDMI ports, and the usual SCART port used only by grandparents and retro game enthusiasts. Gigbit ethernet is also included, allowing the Android operating system on board to download updates faster than the TV’s Wi-Fi N will allow.
The TV itself is fairly heavyset, noticeably thicker and more ponderous than the 2016-era Sony KDL50W8 I set it up next to. That makes carrying it around a challenge – at least on the 50-inch model I’m testing – but also ensures that it feels relatively sturdy. If the construction has a weak point, I’d point to the chunky plastic feet, which attach awkwardly and seem to never lie flush with the surface they’re screwed into. Thankfully, wall-mounting is also an option.
While most ‘made in the UK’ products operate at the midrange or upper-end of the market, the Cello Platinum remains a budget affair. However, the manuals and software are at least relatively well written for a low-cost brand, implying some oversight from a native English speaker, which does make the television feel like a more premium proposition.
Setup, software & controls
Once you’ve got the TV plugged in and turned on, you’ll go through the setup process. This is one that you’ll be familiar with if you have set up an Android phone before; you’re asked to choose a language, sign into a wireless network (if you haven’t plugged in an ethernet cable) and sign into your Google account. This Google sign-in didn’t work for me, failing in an error message each time I tried it after successfully performing two-factor authentication, so in the end I had to create a new Google account to get started. (Later, I checked the settings menu and discovered that my original Google account had in fact signed in successfully, but the setup simply hadn’t allowed me to progress.) The setup process also refers to “your tablet”, suggesting that Cello’s OS is a customised version of standard Android, rather than using proper Android TV.
Once setup is completed, you’re left in a simple grid-based home screen, with a selection of TV-focused apps suggested (but not pre-installed) at the top of the screen, with access to the Play Store to install other apps and settings below.
The remote’s directional controls can be used to move from icon to icon, and the exit button returns to the home screen, but there doesn’t seem to be a physical ‘back’ button on the remote that works as it does in Android. I had frequent problems using the remote to navigate apps; even common apps like YouTube and Netflix have usability problems like items highlighted by the remote not being marked on-screen. However, simpler apps like Kodi are easily navigated using the remote.
The remote also includes a Wii-mote pointer-style mouse, which is activated by installing the included USB dongle into one of the TV’s USB ports; otherwise, the button on the remote labelled ‘Mouse’ does nothing. The pointer works well for selecting icons, but is torturous for scrolling down long lists (e.g. of search results on YouTube) as it requires pointing the remote at the ceiling then the floor in rapid succession.
Ultimately, I ended up plugging in a wired keyboard and mouse to avoid frustration; not an ideal TV experience! A wireless keyboard and mouse would be more convenient and easier to tidy away, but would require recharging — also not ideal.
Of course, actually using the built-in smart TV functionality isn’t required. Instead, I recommend picking up an Apple TV, Fire TV or Shield TV and using that instead for your app-based needs.
Picture quality is acceptable, with decent but not great colour accuracy and contrast. The Cello TV lacks many image quality options; there are just three modes and relatively few settings tweaks to make which at least cuts down on the time that you’ll spend delving into menus. One important one is to switch to PC mode to remove the annoying overscan that is present by default.
Unless you are sitting very close, image quality is not noticeably better than a good 1080p set for most content – especially as most apps we tried, including Netflix and YouTube, didn’t allow 4K content to be streamed at all. (These apps also didn’t feel very fluid, with relatively frequent slow-downs during normal operation.)
The set is also quite dim, making it unsuitable for use in bright settings. Unsurprisingly, HDR support is also missing, and it’s often said that HDR is more noticeable than 4K to most viewers. However, HDR content remains somewhat thin on the ground, so its omission isn’t a dealbreaker in 2018.
However, the TV’s input lag is relatively low, measuring around 27ms using the ‘PC’ mode and about 5ms higher on its standard mode. That is not the best we’ve seen in this space and some distance above even a very standard PC monitor, but it is still a strong result that might make the Cello TV a good pick for fans of fast-paced games.
The integrated soundbar is nice, as it makes physical setup very quick indeed and also means that you can get away without buying a speaker system or soundbar yourself. However, the sound quality still doesn’t compare to proper surround sound speakers or even just a good set of wireless tv headphones.
Ultimately, the Cello offers little that distinguish it from other budget options, apart from its patriotic British branding and relatively good input lag. It won’t win any awards for quality, but if you’re after a low-cost 4K set, you’re not interested in HDR and you fancy supporting a local brand, then the Cello Platinum could be worth a look.
In terms of alternatives, we’d recommend sticking with potentially smaller sets from better known brands, which can offer HDR support and likely better image quality for around the same price point. However, you will give up that large 50-inch screen and integrated soundbar, so it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons.