04th Jan2019

Cello C55SF4K 55-inch QLED TV Review

by Phil Wheat

C55SFS4K-QLED-view-1

TV’s. We use them a LOT here at Nerdly. And, given the amount of content we review each week, there’s no way we don’t use that big box in the corner of the room more than the average person – be it for reviewing movies, play games, or catching up on the latest episode of whichever geeky show we’re hyped for. So why then, if we use it so much and – more importantly – rely on it so much, do we still have an old 3rd-generation Series III Samsung LCD TV? Because despite the leaps and bounds in TV technology I’ve never found a TV better – at least in terms of image quality and sound. Yes, the Series III is getting on a bit but, thanks to the folks at AV Forums and the optimisation guides for PQ etc., available on the site, it still out performs other TVs in our price range.

Speaking of which, the other reason we haven’t upgraded the TV is the price of a replacement panel. Have you seen the prices of decent, high-quality TVs these days?! And no, I don’t think there’s ANYONE out there who’d drop mid-four figures or more (Hello? 15k for an 85in Samsung QLED TV – hell no!) for a new TV. And if you do? You’ve got more money than sense… as my mum would say!

But then along comes Cello and their new range of QLED TVs, including the C55SF4K – a 55″ QLED 4K HDR set which Cello were kind enough to send us for review… And which also, for the price, is INCREDIBLY well-specced. Check out the basic out-of-the-box specs below and remember, this TV is available online for a mere £799!

  • Screen size: 55″ UHD
  • Resolution: 3840 x 2160 10bit
  • Contrast ratio: 1200:1
  • Brightness: 200 cd/m2
  • Panel: Samsung LSC550FN11 (8ms)
  • VESA mount 400 x 200
  • Software: Android 7 OS
  • Processor: AMLogic 962 A53 quad-core CPU @ 1.5GHz / 2gb DDR4 / 8gb flash
  • DVB-T2 tuner

So, from that intro you know I’m cheap but I still want the best possible TV, with the best picture quality; but for not a lot of money. And – given the specs above – you can gather Cello’s new QLED TVs fit that criteria to a tee!

Out of the box the C55SF4K feels like a premium TV. The panel is, for the most part, very thin – with only the bottom third of the set having any real depth, and this is where all the inputs, TV components, stand and mounting options are housed. The upper two-thirds of the panel are super-slim, like feels waaaay to fragile to be secure, slim. But its not. That slim look is carried across to the bezel around the TV too. It’s a design choice that, along with the curved stand (which sadly doesn’t allow for the TV to be rotated in any way), gives the Cello TV a premium look AND feel.

As previously mentioned, the bottom portion of the C55SF4K houses all the necessary inputs and outputs: 4x HDMI 2.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports, aerial, an Ethernet port, audio outputs such as RCA, mini AV, headphone and optical. As well as a microSD slot, which will allow you to playback files; and finally the power-in. There are also numerous other options for getting your own content onto the TV besides the microSD slot – the TV has built-in WiFi @ 2.4GHz so you can stream to the TV from various sources; and you can connect a correctly-formatted hard drive or USB stick to the USB port(s) and – thanks to this being and Android TV – use numerous apps to playback the content within. You can also, according to the specs, record digital TV on to a device connected to the USB port too – though not having any over-the-air TV sources meant we couldn’t try that option.

Speaking of Android, the C55SF4K is running Android 7 OS, giving you access to tons of apps via the Play Store like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime (Android OS even recommends apps to download on first boot up) – though beware, there are a number of apps NOT optimised for use outside of touchscreens. This means using the remote controls mouse option, where you tap the mouse button and the remote turns into a pointing device allowing you move around the screen and click the centre button to select. However… there’s still a massive issues with scrolling, which both the mouse and traditional up/down buttons struggle with, meaning you can sometimes not actually reach the part of the screen you need to! In terms of apps, connecting an external device such as an Apple TV, Roku or Now TV box, works much better given that the software for those is built for use with a remote.

C55SFS4K-QLED-Remote

The optimum viewing angle is quite narrow, and whilst you can see the image from a rather wide viewing angle the image gets brighter, losing contrast, the wider the angle – from dead centre the blacks are crisp, the colour perfect; but move 45-degrees to either side of centre and the blacks get greyer and the colours more washed out. The greater the angle the more brighter and washed out the image. Which is pretty much standard for QLED TV’s anyway but its remarkably noticeable coming from an old LCD TV where the image went darker the greater the viewing angle.

As we’re discussing issues with this TV, there were some more slight “niggles” with the Cello set but nothing so major that it rules out picking this TV up if you’re looking to upgrade. Firstly, and probably the most negligible issue I had, is the positioning of the inputs – everything is on the left hand side of the TV (as you look at it). Now that might not seem like a problem but it did mean I had to completely rearrange my setup to accommodate all my devices, in particular reposition our Nintendo Switch from the opposite side of the TV due to the distance across the back of the panel to the closest HDMI input being longer than the Switch’s supplied HDMI cable.

Secondly, again related to the HDMI port(s), we had issues with the connection to our NOW TV box – insomuch as occasionally there seemed to be a feedback loop preventing the image coming through (resetting the picture over and over) if the TV was switched to the relevant HDMI source before the NOW TV box had booted on. There are also incompatibility issues with the C55SF4K and the Apple TV, sometimes the TV remote would work the Apple TV and sometimes not; and the reverse was true also – occasionally the Apple TV remote would not change volume on the TV and other times it would. It all seems to be connected to if/when you switch sources – do it at the wrong time and things tend to go a little skew-whiff. But he last, and the biggest, problem I had with the C55SF4K TV was the picture quality. Now not the PQ overall, just one minor niggle related to the quality settings; and to be fair this was only a truly noticeable issue for one particular connection…

The TV has a number on in-built picture quality settings: standard, vivid, monitor etc. and its those settings (and getting the C55SF4K to keep them) that seemed to be the problem – in that the PQ would drop from a crisp HDMI picture to something akin to an old-school VGA image when switching sources. Now I mentioned that this was noticeable issue for one particular connection and that was a Mac Mini. You see, as part of our home cinema we have a 2012 Mac Mini driving not only our Plex set-up but also our TV watching and its when viewing the Mac Mini that the PQ issue becomes noticeable. We set the C55SF4K up using the supplied settings at first and that’s where the issue arose – switching the TV on and/or switching sources to the HDMI input(s) we connected the Mac to gave a fuzzy image when using ANY of the supplied PQ settings. However the issue could be solved by going into the settings and switching back and forward from any PQ setting: in our case from the “monitor” quality setting to “standard” and back again. And voila! The Mac picture was crisp and clear as any regular computer monitor would be. Unfortunately that was the case every time you switched to the Mac input – the C55SF4K never seemed to be able to supply the crisp, clean, image quality WITHOUT going through the quality-switching routine.

C55SFS4K-QLED-view-2

However the picture quality issues were not all bad… Surprisingly, and this was something I was NOT expecting, the C55SF4K actually improved the picture quality of low-resolution video in our set-up – well at least in terms of comparing it with our existing Samsung LCD TV! The improvement is most notable in low-res visuals of 360p or less (yes, we still watch stuff under 720/1080p), which can be the kinds of streams you sometimes get with the TV player app during peak periods, as well as online content via YouTube (I’m a sucker for watching old not-available-since-VHS cartoons on the platform) and older titles on VHS etc. I was always lead to believe that LCD TVs beat any LED when it comes to lower resolution content but the Cello C55SF4K proves that wrong – thanks to the HDR the blacks are blacker, pixelation seems to be less defined… without looking like a DNR mess of course. And this improvement is only via using the standard image quality settings – unlike my Samsung TV, which was professionally optimised for the best PQ in that particular model!

Gaming on this TV is also looks fantastic. The panel, which is actually manufactured by Samsung, has an 8ms lag time which is fine for gaming – mix that with the superb image quality of the QLED screen means that gaming looks brighter, cleaner and more colourful than ever – and we tried it with both a PS4 and Nintendo Switch and BOTH looked much better than on our old Samsung LCD TV. In terms of sound however, the C55SF4K isn’t the best. Given the thinness of the panel there’s only so much room for the audio to resonant within the TV, meaning that the output does seem to suffer from a lack of bass, but given that 90% of LED TVs suffer from the same problem (hence the rise in the sale of soundbars) that shouldn’t be a concern for those looking for a decent new QLED TV.

Yes the Cello C55SF4K TV isn’t perfect (though you’ll quickly become accustomed to the sets quirks) but in terms of price versus picture quality and design, this is one TV that will be hard to beat. A few software improvements and maybe an upgrade to the Android OS would easily make this TV a must-buy – for now its the perfect entry-level QLED TV for those, like us, on a budget, beating all similarly priced and similarly sized TVs with ease.

For more info on the Cello C55SF4K 55-inch QLED TV, check out the official Cello website.

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