A couple months ago, our Ben Schoon reviewed the 43-inch model LeEco’s Super4 TV powered by Android TV, and while it worked for him, he did give a stern warning to anyone looking to pick up the television for themselves. After taking a look at the 65-inch model for the last few weeks (and my colleague Stephen looking at the 55-incher), we share many of Schoon’s same concerns. While the LeEco Super4 are decent TVs by themselves, there are a still some little problems that make it less-than-amazing in terms of overall value…
Android TV, on paper, is fantastic. If you love your Android smartphone, why not have your television powered by the same operating system? You have access to the familiarity of what the Google Play Store offers, you get built-in Chromecast support for connecting to your phone easier, and more. One of the problems, though, is that Android TV hasn’t really evolved since being launched. Lots of developers haven’t gotten around to either updating their apps for the big screen or just haven’t created one at all, and the OS itself is aging slowly but surely.
Just like with phones, it’s up to the television producer to keep it updated to the latest version of Android, and add functionality atop the operating system that people like you and I will find useful. Perhaps unsurprisingly coming from a Chinese company that makes pack-as-many-specs-per-dollar-as-we-can phones, LeEco’s software execution isn’t perfect. For example, LeEco first released these Super4 sets back in late 2016 and didn’t push out its first bug-fixing update until April 2017. So I don’t have high hopes that the company will get Nougat running on the televisions anytime soon (if at all).
If there is one thing that LeEco did right with its Super4 televisions, however, it’s their displays. This 65.5-inch UHD 4K 3840 x 2160 display I checked out running at 60Hz with HDR is a solid value (and, likewise for Stephen’s 55-incher at that same 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution, at least as per what he’s told me). The biggest issue, still, is the lack of 4K content out there to watch as well as services that stream in 4K. If you can find it, though, it’s absolutely remarkable, and depending on the price you get on this set, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal.
As Schoon said in his review, “it’s bright, the colors look excellent, and the 4K panel is absolutely fantastic.”
Both the 55-inch model and the 65-inch models have a very similar design aesthetic, so anything that’s an upside on the bigger one pretty much applies to the smaller one too, and that brings us to its design.
The looks of the LeEco Super4 televisions are another strength of this lineup. Around front, you have a thin .39-inch metal frame (it’s the same size on both models) that doesn’t take away from the television at all. Around back, the top half of the set is an all metal, “ultra-slim” form factor. The bottom half of the TV is a bit thicker (as you can see in the above photo) but mainly because that’s where all of the computing and ports are stored (more on those later).
While the rest of the shots in this review are of the X65, here’s a quick look at the X55 unit from a few different angles:
The biggest issue I had with the Super4’s design (although this is admittedly a bit less of a problem on the smaller 55-inch model) is the placement of the stands. With most televisions that I’ve ever dealt with, the leg(s) were located near the middle of the TV so that it could be placed almost anywhere. With the LeEco’s being on the outside of the set, I had to get an extremely wide (more than 58-inches) TV stand. While this can be a nuisance, I did learn to appreciate their placement just because it kept the whole system more stabilized.
The LeEco Super 4 X65 comes with two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0, three HDMI 2.0 inputs, a 3.5mm audio plug, RF (ATSC/NTSC) input, composite, VGA, optical audio output, and an ethernet jack. Most of these ports are the same on all of the Super4 televisions but the number of HDMI and USB ports may vary. The 55-inch X55, however, sports the same exact I/O as the X65.
For my setup, I only used the HDMI ports and the optical audio jack. Everything else was nice to have but I do wish I had more HDMI slots because three just doesn’t cut it in this day and age. Stephen used several of these ports, and has no complaints. In fact, he mentioned to me — as this being his first Android TV — that the source switcher on the Android TV home screen was a pleasant surprise for him.
Sound Quality (built-in speakers)
I am no sound expert but I could tell that the sound I was hearing was definitely coming out of built-in speakers. On LeEco’s website, it’s stated that the Super4 has “cinema-grade sound” because the sets use Harman Kardon audio and Dolby Digital Plus technology. Both Stephen and I don’t exactly buy the whole “cinema-grade sound” claim, and that’s evidenced by the fact that we both just couldn’t stand using it as the only audio output.
When watching movies or TV shows, you can definitely crank the volume to a deafening level with no real issues, but the bass was lacking and the sound began to get distorted at higher levels. Personally, we preferred to set up our own cheap surround sound systems, which made the entire experience so much better. All it takes is a decent set of external Logitech desktop speakers with a mini subwoofer and you’ll be good to go.
Software performance (Android TV and Google Cast)
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Android TV is great, but there are so many things that are either missing or just broken enough that it takes away from the viewing experience. The TVs’ main strengths were streaming content from applications like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and several others. Plus, if there isn’t an application made specifically for Android TV, you can use the built-in Google Cast functionality to send the video to the screen wirelessly.
But we both had our issues, at least until the sets’ April bug fix updates came out. Stephen and I both had problems with maintaining a constant Wi-Fi connection until that update arrived, and Stephen experienced an issue on the X55 that required him to hard restart the unit once a day just to get it to recognize the audio out port. Both of these things were resolved, like I said, but they were annoying to say the least.
All of LeEco’s Super4 Android TVs are powered by the Mstar 6A938 processor and 3GB of RAM. This is plenty of power when streaming 4K content from Netflix, but it can get lagged down playing games (but really, there aren’t any games on the Android TV Play Store that all that great anyway). Additionally, the TV can appear a little sluggish when you watch 4K content at 60Hz from an external item through HDMI.
LeEco’s software modifications and apps
Thankfully, LeEco leaves the Android TV interface alone for the most part. The biggest change is that the company groups all of its own as well as pre-installed applications together in a “LeEco” section. This isn’t too big of a problem but it can make looking for a specific application difficult if you can’t remember which grouping it is stored in.
In addition to pre-installing Netflix, DirecTV Now, Pandora, and several other third-party applications, LeEco also provides its Le and LeZone content apps, which are practically useless. Le is basically the company’s version of Netflix, providing content from several different providers. LeZone is the company’s app store, offering different games that both can and cannot be found on the Play Store. Personally, I never launched either of these apps nor did I watch the content found within. Chances are, you already subscribe to a service that offers that same content.
The LeEco Super4’s controller is just that, a controller. Thankfully, it is pretty simple and does feel premium in the hand with its metal finish and a decent weight. In addition to the basic navigation, volume, and source buttons, you do get shortcut buttons to launch Netflix and Le, Android TV specific navigation keys, and a microphone button so that you can search for content. It took us both a while to realize that the controller should be paired over Bluetooth to get its full functionality up and running (it doesn’t need to aimed at the TV itself), but when we did it was smooth sailing.
I have had the LeEco Super4 X65 for exactly two months as of this review and the main reason why I waited so long to review it is because I was waiting for several crippling bugs to be fixed, and as I mentioned, these weren’t small issues either. These were things that required me (and probably everyone else that owned the TV from day one) to unplug the television every single time I wanted to watch something.
After having to deal with these sorts of issues, and considering the fact the LeEco is flailing and is having a hard time getting any traction in the US, both Stephen and I have a hard time recommending these televisions to most people. For $1,000 from LeEco’s LeMall website or $1,079 from Amazon, this Super4 X65 appears to be a decent deal on the surface, especially when comparing it to other 65-inch 4K HDR televisions from other companies. But coming from a less-than stable company, I wouldn’t expect much support — especially on the software side of things — going forward.
If you can deal with some minor bugs (the biggest problems seem to be fixed at this point) here and there, I say go ahead and purchase this television, however. Since receiving the X65, it has received two software updates that have immensely improved the experience, and while this does give me hope, I have to agree with Schoon when he said in his review that “signs indicate that LeEco isn’t doing incredibly well, so software upgrades and even warranty support over the coming years isn’t exactly a guarantee.”