What Hi-Fi (UK)
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 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.
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 it 7cm above the surface upon which it’s placed. That’s a perfect space for a soundbar such as the Sonos Beam. 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.
The TU7100 gets the same Tizen operating system as Samsung’s flagship sets and it’s absolutely packed with apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Rakuten, Disney Plus and Apple TV – all in 4K and HDR10 (HDR10+ in the cases of Amazon and Rakuten).
The list goes on…
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 another way of getting content 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 though.
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).
We fire up the HDR10+ 4K Blu-ray of 1917 and are instantly impressed with the TU7100’S picture. It’s compromised, as it has to be at this end of the market, but those compromises are in the right places and the core performance is enjoyable.
Blacks are surprisingly deep for a TV that costs so little and there’s plenty of 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. Crucially, this crispness and detail is delivered without any sense of artificiality or over-enhancement.
The same is true of the way the TU7100 handles motion. Switch 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. But that’s not to say that the TU7100 isn’t vibrant when it needs to be.
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. Standard-def content, too, is well handled. Our DVD of Dirty Harry is clean and controlled, with vibrant but natural colours.
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. But if you’re set on making do with the built-in speakers, their output is perfectly passable.
Expectations should be tempered at this end of the market, of course, but while this TV has its limits, it performs remarkably well and boasts the most apppacked operating system in the business. As long as you can live with only two HDMIS, there’s little reason not to buy.