Since the term was first coined about a decade ago, Smart TVs have promised quite a lot to customers, many of which failed to deliver. In general, the term refers to television sets that are interactive in some form or another. The lines are quite blurry. The basic features are integrated via a simple Web app or platform, upon which they deliver additional applications or simply allow you to browse the Web.
Personally, I don’t think simply slapping an app or two, or even a Web browser, should qualify any TV to sport the “Smart TV” moniker, but such is the state of affairs. You may feel that these issues typically only plague smaller and cheaper brands, but it’s a known issue across the board. Many friends and family I know often claim to have Smart TVs, only to find that there’s a limit of three or four preinstalled applications you can switch between. In South Africa, it appears that simply delivering YouTube, Netflix and/or DStv apps qualifies the device, but in reality, falls way short of the mark.
In recent months I’ve reviewed a few Smart TVs, which most could successfully boast the title without any debate. Others, however, only sport a set of preinstalled apps with no means of adding to the bouquet. Having recently attended a demonstration hosted by Skyworth as they showcased their latest offerings to the South African market, I was more than happy to receive the Skyworth G6 Android TV for review.
Build and Design
While the Skyworth G6 isn’t your entry-level product, it doesn’t classify as being premium either. This mid-range unit features a plastic construction, although without looking cheap or tacky. The unit has a lightweight build, which can be handled fairly easily be one person, both out the box and during setup. With the stand in place, the unit weights 12.7KG. In terms of the dimensions, the units 1098.7×240.9×688.4mm, which includes the stand, and 1098.7×76.5×659.5mm without. The stand itself is made up of two separate components (the feet), which screw into either side of the undertray. In between the two feet is a grey coloured panel, which includes the Skyworth logo in silver. Just below this panel is the down-firing, built-in soundbar.
…the G6 doesn’t have the super-thin panel…
Unlike the previous units I’ve reviewed recently, the G6 doesn’t have the super-thin panel. Instead, the plastic rear cover has an angled approach as it leads toward the thickest portion. Towards the bottom half of the rear, the cover broadens in order to house the many different components that power the unit, as is standard across the majority of TVs. This panel also houses the different interfaces for the unit, which includes an RF input, composite, x3 HDMI, auxiliary, x2 USB, Ethernet, wireless LAN, as well as Chromecast support built in. For the most part, I only used two HDMI and two USB ports to run all my equipment. The same panel includes a single USB and HDMI port on the right-hand side as the two primary input sources.
The Skyworth G6 isn’t going to be winning many style awards, but it gets the job done without looking out of place or unsightly.
Screen and Display
While it may be a mid-range unit, the Skyworth G6 still manages to pack an (LG-sourced) LED IPS screen, which has a UHD 4K display with 3840x2160px resolution at 60Hz, with a glossy finish. This is quite an impressive specification on a unit that doesn’t cross the R10,000 mark. These aren’t just numbers on paper, however, as the screen produces the goods where it counts. I was worried at the start of the review that the unit would be susceptible to bleeding, but I didn’t experience any of this. We don’t get the deep black as you would on an OLED panel, but they’re dark enough to provide great contrast while viewing.
Using the default setting at first, the colours are somewhat washed, but you won’t notice it if you haven’t had anything to match it against. Thankfully, the unit includes a few advanced options in the settings menu to allow you to make some adjustments where required. It’s not the most straight-forward of processes, as with other TVs, but I managed to get the settings where I wanted it to be eventually.
The unit supports 4K (2160p) content and is also able to upscale content when required.
The unit supports 4K (2160p) content and is also able to upscale content when required. Overall, the upscaling worked well enough and you wouldn’t notice any pixelation, etc. from the processing. The upscaled image is a bit on the soft side and could use a sharpen feature or setting to at some additional detail to the picture. Playing 4K content was great and didn’t have the same issues of upscaling from 1080p and the likes. The unit, however, doesn’t offer any HDR support, although being a mid-range unit, I didn’t expect it to. The maximum brightness of 250nits, as per the specifications, means that HDR may not necessarily be feasible on the panel.
When it comes to gaming, the refresh latency is more than good enough for casual gamers. It doesn’t, however, offer support for higher frequencies for the more professional gamers, nor does it have G-sync support. For the most part, games looked great, with a good mix of colours and contrast levels. As mentioned previously, the panel has a glossy finish. Thankfully, it doesn’t suffer from glare or reflections that often plague similar finishes.
Although most users will only go through the process once and setup not high on the list of priorities for would-be buyers, it is quite an important part of the experience as well as our testing. With the unit not being overly heavy, I was thankful that I was able to manage the entire setup by myself, which included carrying the box up a few flights of stairs, unboxing the TV and positioning on the TV stand.
After lifting the panel out the box, the rest of the process was pretty standard. Lie the screen on a flat surface and screw in the stand (feet) into position, ensuring that it’s solidly in place. Once you’ve positioned the unit on the stand, you can connect the separate power cable and turn on the TV. If you have any additional input sources from HDMI, RCA, etc. you can connect those before powering on the unit.
The unit I received for review included two remotes, one Bluetooth and one infrared, as well as a Bluetooth game controller.
The unit I received for review included two remotes, one Bluetooth and one infrared, as well as a Bluetooth game controller. Upon booting up the G6, you’re prompted to fill in some details through the setup process, which isn’t overly complicated. There’s also an option to download a smartphone app, which will allow you to control the TV via your phone if any of the remotes are ever missing. For the Bluetooth remote and game controller, you can connect these via the settings menu.
I had a small issue connecting the Bluetooth remote at the start. I was fortunate enough to spend a few minutes at the Skyworth offices to have a view of some of the other units from the range, as well as some future offerings. Part of the demonstrations took me through the full setup and use of some of the models, which also required the Bluetooth remote pairing. After being shown the end to end process, I realised the issue I originally had with the review unit was that it had been previously paired with the unit, and created a connectivity issue once the unit was factory reset. After I unpaired it and redid the process, it was much easier to follow the prompts. In addition to this, I also paired a number of other Bluetooth devices to operate the TV, which included a tablet, a Bluetooth mouse, as well as two other devices. At one point I had successfully connected eight devices, all of which could control the TV at the same time, which was pretty impressive.
Smart Features and Performance
There’s no doubting that the G6 is a fully-fledged Smart TV. The whole marketing around the product depends on it. And with the unit being based on the Android platform, it opens up a world of capabilities that some of the other Smart TVs don’t offer. Out of the box, the G6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat. The unit I received was already updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, which offers quite a number of updates over the previous version, many of which are interface and optimisation related. While many of the apps and services worked brilliantly, the Android 8.0 update created a small issue of certification with certain apps. This was down to a Google bug, which was rectified within the same week of the review.
If there’s one thing that bugs me about all the other Smart TVs, it’s how it manages network connectivity. There aren’t any options for remembering networks. With my current data setup, I need to switch to a separate home network during peak hours, which, on other Smart TVs, means I have to retype the password when switching. At times, this also creates an issue with the wireless adapter, which then requires me to restart the TV by turning it off at the plug. On the Skyworth G6, I thankfully didn’t run into these issues. As with your smartphone, you can easily select the network you wish to connect to by simply selected the saved connections. In fact, when the software picks up that there are two connections at home and the one loses data connectivity, which in my case it does, it will switch to the other network without always needing to prompt it to do. I loved this feature.
As with the other Smart TVs, the Skyworth G6 also has a list of pre-installed apps, which included YouTube, Netflix, DStv as well as Google Play Music.
As with the other Smart TVs, the Skyworth G6 also has a list of pre-installed apps, which included YouTube, Netflix, DStv as well as Google Play Music. Being an Android-based platform, users have a multitude of apps at their fingertips via Google Play. Yes, not all apps will be ported or available for the G6, but there weren’t many I wasn’t able to find, install and use. In fact, what’s even better about the software is that it allows you to install and play games, thanks to its hardware specifications.
The Skyworth G6 is built upon a Quad Core CPU, although I wasn’t certain which chipset it uses. It also has a built-in GPU as part of the SoC, as well as 4GB RAM. All of the games I installed and tested ran smoothly and while the graphics weren’t always set to the highest option, it was more than sufficient, and a great way to kill a few minutes when required. Some touch-based games don’t port well, but there are more than enough options to get by. The controller itself is based loosely on the Xbox One controller and very lightweight. It includes a built-in rechargeable battery pack, which you can charge by using the USB ports on the TV via a microUSB cable.
There’s no doubting that the G6 is a fully-fledged Smart TV.
Being an Android system, there are a few missing features that aren’t available that we’re pretty accustomed to on our smartphones. The first of these is the multitasking support. It’s not that the Skyworth G6 doesn’t support it, it’s that it isn’t as easy to use, or switch between apps. While you are able to select the home button to open another app and then go home again to open the previous app and continue watching where you left off, this is a bit cumbersome. There are times when I really could have used this feature, such as going into the settings without having to close the video I was currently streaming to make any adjustments. Although this isn’t a major flaw, I’m hoping it’s something that would be considered by the design team in future software updates.
The Skyworth G6 Android TV is a very solid unit with quite a lot of functionality that we don’t often see in other Smart TVs. At a retail price of R7,999, the unit is fairly inexpensive. In addition to this, the Black Friday sales, saving customers R1,000, made the purchase even more alluring.
For many locals, Skyworth isn’t a very familiar brand, but with their growing presence and Android TV experience, it’s quickly becoming a crowd favourite. The brand has already been well-established in various other regions, Asia specifically, and with the introduction of the Skyworth G6 Android TV, it was the safe choice to bring the brand into the Southern African region. With the overwhelming success of the Android TVs, especially during the Black Friday weekend, which sold out in many stores, the brand is now well-positioned to introduce bigger and better, which is on the cards for 2019.
Skyworth G6 Android TV
The Skyworth G6 Android TV is a solid unit with solid performances. With the platform built on Android, it offers quite a lot of additional smart features we don't often see in many other competing units. With a great price to back it, the unit is definitely a crowd pleaser.
- Android-based OS
- Expandable app inventory
- Limited mulitasking
- Not the greatest audio
- Ease of Learning
- Ease of Use
- Value for Money