Cello P50ANSMT-4K Review
So just what do you get at this price point, and what is missing?
What is the Cello P50ANSMT-4K?This is the entry-level 4K LED LCD TV from Cello, a British based TV company, and is part of their Platinum range. It has a 50-inch IPS panel that is LED backlit, with a plastic silver fronted chassis and a 16 Watt soundbar built into the bottom of the panel. This was a new sealed box example supplied for review by Cello direct.
It accepts 4K signals but is not HDR compatible for any of the current standards, and it uses Android tablet TV (version 4) for the smart system, so you can side-load apps or use those already in the app store. This is a different implementation of Android than used by current Philips and Sony TVs, it is quite basic in comparison. Being an IPS panel it also has excellent viewing angles of up to 89 degrees horizontal and vertical before the image washes out and it has an LED backlight, but no local dimming.
AVForums members have asked us to look at this end of the market in the past, so can this Cello deliver a bargain high-quality image or is it best relegated to the kitchen or bedroom? Let’s find out.
DesignThe Cello P50ANSMT has a very industrial design with a prominent 15mm plastic silver bezel to the panel, which has a Cello logo on the bottom. A 70mm soundbar is under the panel and fixed in position, it can’t be removed. This soundbar has visible speaker drivers at each side of the panel with a see-through speaker grille. The surface behind the grille is black in colour with a 2mm silver edge, which surrounds the soundbar section, and a power indicator light to the left. The TV stands on two silver plastic feet that are screwed into position at either end of the set.
The TV is thicker than edge lit panels and there is a further raised section in the middle of the rear, which houses the connections and electronics. Everything is made from plastic and the weight of the set is only 12.75Kg, which does give the impression of cost savings being made with the build quality. Compared to the recently reviewed Hisense H55U7A, which can be bought for £579, this Cello TV feels very basic in terms of build and materials used.
ConnectionsWe keep the basic approach going with the connections that are situated around the back of the panel, which are downward and sideways facing and on a raised area. The side connections are an RF ariel for the tuner, optical audio out, LAN, 2 Android USB 2.0 slots and a micro SD card slot. The downward connections are three HDMI slots (4K, 30p with HDCP 2.2), composite video and RCA audio in, RCA audio out and a TV USB 2.0.
ControlThe remote control is a long plastic affair with the buttons well spaced out and in a logical position. The centre has the directional pad surrounded by the Exit, Info, Picture and Sound direct access keys. Below these are the volume and channel rockers with EPG and Source buttons between them. To the top we have the Power and Smart TV direct keys and below these are the TV, Radio, Satellite, Menu, Re-Tune and Mute buttons. We did find the position of some of these options to be counter-intuitive, such as the mute key, which really should be down where the source key is positioned, next to the volume rockers.
To the bottom of the remote we have coloured keys, direct keys for HDMI and USB sources and player controls. There is also a large ‘Air Remote’ logo at the bottom of the controller. This works in a similar fashion to the LG Magic remote, but is nowhere near as good. You plug in the supplied USB receiver to one of the Android USB ports and by pressing the mouse key on the remote you now have access to a pointer that you can move around within the smart TV functions, by moving the remote. Now with the review sample supplied by Cello this receiver was in the remote bag, but there was also a flyer stating that you need to pay £20 to activate this feature, although it worked for us out of the box. We have asked Cello to clarify if this will be the case for retail versions.
FunctionalityFor a mass-market product we did find that for the majority of our needs the Cello was intuitive to use and had most of the features we would expect to be there.
Selecting the TV tuner did turn out to be confusing as it is classed as the Smart TV system and a number of times this either crashed or just hung for ages while it opened up the Android system. Pressing the direct TV button on the remote control didn’t work at all. So we did find that slightly odd, as well as the number of channels we receive. There were no problems on our long-term OLED test TVs but some channels were missing in this tuner, no matter how often we tried to get them with a re-tune.
Once you get used to how to bring up the channel listings and EPG it is easy enough to navigate around the channels and make selections, but it doesn’t feel very slick or intuitive, unlike like the majority of set-top boxes from Sky, Humax or BT.
The Smart TV system is run by the tablet version of Android TV, which at version 4 is an old operating system to use. It was slow and clunky most of the time we used it, but we did make sure we had the latest firmware running on the TV before we started our week testing the set. When it was up and running without any crashes we did find it easy to move around and select the options available. Downloading apps was straightforward and most of the major ones are available in the app store. You really need to use the mouse pointer function on the remote in the Smart system as it is designed for a tablet or mobile phone, not a TV with a standard remote. We did find it a chore to be honest as the pointer doesn’t respond to the exact position of the remote, so you find yourself pointing it in strange directions to hit the position you want on the screen. The LG Magic remote is light years ahead of this in comparison.
In the end, we found the best way to use the Cello P50ANSMT-4K was with a separate set-top box and Apple TV, using the TV as a monitor only, which is a little damming on the functionality of the Cello. Also be aware that the P50ANSMT-4K applies an approximate 5% overscan crop to HDMI sources and you have to go into the menu system and change the HDMI mode to PC Mode to switch off overscan.
One aspect of the Cello that some users may like is that this Android system allows sideloading of apps and software, so you can access Kodi and similar without any issues. Obviously, although Kodi is an open source and legitimate piece of software it doesn’t take a genius to work out what else could be used with the system, a use we do not condone.
Our feedback to Cello would be to get the Smart system up to date and working in a manner that is comparable to the major brands. Using a system designed for a mobile or tablet is never going to work with a TV set that uses a remote control. For example, the YouTube app is unusable without an Air remote and keyboard, whereas the same app on the - not that much more expensive - Hisense was a doddle to use with the remote control only. With some viewers actually watching YouTube more than normal terrestrial TV the interface needs to be much more usable. We also think that the menu system has to offer more options, which we will go into more detail further in the review.
FeaturesThe Cello P50ANSMT-4K uses a 3840 x 2160 UHD IPS LCD panel that has a direct LED backlight with no local dimming. It is designed and built for a specific price point and a performance level that will suit the needs of a very large and varied market. It is certainly a consumer level TV and not one designed to appeal to videophiles like some of our membership here at AVForums. As such, should we really expect much from the picture performance and features at this price point?
At a glance, the feature set seems to be very good with Android Smart TV with most of the major catch up services and on-demand streaming apps being available. There is Wi-Fi built-in along with the air remote with pointer for using with the smart system, and it has a strong design along with the built-in soundbar. So on the surface at least it appears to have lots of bases covered.
The menu system on the Cello is extremely basic and we guess that fits with the intended market the company are aiming for. There are very few picture controls and as such we are at the mercy of the Cello engineers and what they consider to be a good picture. We have four picture modes to choose from (Theater, Personal, Standard and Dynamic) and the same in terms of Colour Temp. You also have an HDMI mode selector, Aspect Ratio and Noise Reduction options and that is it! There is no gamma option menu and you only get Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness and Colour sliders in the Personal picture mode. Even for a TV aimed at the mass market, the lack of some options is in our opinion disappointing.
Our feedback to Cello is that the picture modes have to be far better in terms of image quality and fidelity (more on that later) and there has to be at least a hidden advanced menu for those who want more adjustment. There absolutely has to be a gamma selection that tracks luminance correctly for normal content that is designed to be viewed with a curve between 2.2 and 2.6 which we will cover more in the picture assessment. We understand the market that Cello is selling to, but even that market deserves some options that reflect the content they are watching and the standards they are mastered to.
Out of the Box MeasurementsWe are an easy bunch to please here at AVForums and all we look for in any TV we review is at least one picture mode that gets as close as possible to the industry standards which are used to master TV shows and films. This is Rec.709 colour and D65 white for HD and PAL material and as this TV doesn’t do HDR we don’t have to worry about even more standards. So it should be easy to have an accurate as possible picture mode. A TV must be able to show the content as it was intended to be seen, or get as close as possible to doing that. If it can’t then we couldn’t possibly give it a good mark for picture quality. It is that simple.
The problem the Cello has is that by going for simplicity of use, they have not added in picture controls of any worth and as such we are at the mercy of what their engineers think an accurate image is, and we are guessing it will not be to the industry standards. We chose the Personal picture mode after measuring all those available. It is the only preset that has basic controls available for picture adjustment.
As you can see in the greyscale graph (top left) we are not off to a very good start. Greyscale is the backbone to your image; it is the colour of grey, be that black with no brightness and white at 100% brightness, colour is then, in very simple terms, laid on top of this canvas. It is also important that gamma, in this case, follows a curve as all content for SD and HD playback is mastered with a gamma curve between 2.2 and 2.6 which has been the case since the dawn of TV. Nowadays with HDR content, we use the PQ-EOTF for that content which in very simple terms is a much more linear response than a curve. PQ-EOTF is not used for normal SD and HD material, only HDR 4K content. The problems I am building up to, surround how this TV uses gamma and it’s inaccurate greyscale tracking. Gamma is just not tracking any curve at all and is in most respects almost linear in its response. This means that as the image gets brighter, so does gamma until it just clips away all detail in the bright areas of the image. What we have then is an image that lacks red energy, is very blue/cyan in the whites and where the luminance is too bright that it clips all detail in the brightest parts of the image. Not a great start then.
Moving to the colour gamut (top right) and that cyan push seen in the greyscale is obvious here as it pulls the gamut and saturation tracking over towards cyan. This causes issues from 75% saturation and below and is annoying because if the greyscale and gamma were accurate, then this Cello TV would have been able to get pretty close to the industry standards.
Our feedback to Cello is pretty obvious and that is to get an image preset that has good greyscale tracking and to add a gamma selection to the picture menus for 2.0 to 2.6 and also include ITU BT.1886. If they managed to do that then the TV would at least have a fighting chance of being able to show content as it was mastered and should be viewed. Yes, it might be a budget TV, but every TV should be able to show content as it is mastered, as it’s first priority, or why bother at all.
Calibrated MeasurementsYou will not be surprised to learn that there are no calibration controls on the Cello, given the price point and the fact you know that one of the most important controls, the gamma selection, is nowhere to be seen either. But surprisingly under the Color Temp setting of personal, we get a one-point adjustment tool, so we can at least make a stab at getting the greyscale tracking better.
Looking at the greyscale (top left) we set about adjusting the 50ire point with the one-point control, and although it was coarse in its adjustment we did manage to get the greyscale tracking in a more accurate fashion, which again just points to Cello that they could be doing this out of the factory. However the adjustments here were interesting but didn’t change the fact that Gamma is a mess and is not tracking any curve, so as the image gets brighter or has brighter areas in it, detail disappears as it is blown out and clipped.
However having been able to make some very basic adjustments to the greyscale we were able to reduce the cyan push of the colour gamut (top right). Again it points to a missed opportunity by Cello as most of the saturation tracking points were close to being where they should be for an accurate Rec.709 image, but of course, luminance is way off.
It is a shame that Cello have not included a gamma selector or curve to the P50ANSMT-4K and a quick greyscale alignment from the factory, as doing so would suddenly give this TV a fairly accurate image to the standards used to master our TV and Film content and allow us to view them properly. If people then want to switch to brighter and more garish modes, that’s fine, but a TV must have at least one preset that is as accurate as possible, otherwise, it isn’t doing its job.
Cello P50ANSMT-4K General Performance
Viewing angles and panel uniformityThe P50ANSMT-4K is using an IPS LCD panel and as such the viewing angles are very good with contrast and colour managing to look decent until you get quite far off axis. This means that for a normal living room where some viewing positions are not central to the screen, those viewers should get a balanced image and not one that is washed out like a VA panel would be.
The Cello also has an LED backlight, which also manages to do a decent job with just the occasional sign of dark corners and some patchiness and blotching of the backlight on the panel, and DSE (Dirty Screen Effect) is visible with some content. Football content did suffer from DSE with most of the image being green from the pitch, which highlighted it more. It was harder to notice with everyday TV programs and news bulletins, but as the viewing surroundings got dimmer in the evening, we did notice the dim corners and uneven uniformity more.
Black levels and contrast performanceBeing an IPS panel the drawbacks are with the contrast performance, as opposed to a VA panel which is strong in this area with excellent blacks and more contrast. The panel here wasn’t the brightest, nor did it have a great contrast performance, mainly due to the terrible gamma tracking blowing out detail and the panel only being able to hit 140nits brightness at its peak. Blacks measured 0.20nits, which meant that overall on/off contrast was 700:1 which is quite low by today’s standards.
Motion handling and video processingThere is no frame interpolation on the Cello P50ANSMT-4K and we didn’t find any major issues with motion with the majority of content we viewed. 24fps material is played back well with no signs of induced judder from the processing and image blur is in the source. We did notice some edge trailing now and again with faster moving scenes and 50i material did have a slight micro stutter every now and again with TV viewing, under scrutiny, although it was hard to see if you didn’t notice it straight away, you needed to go looking for it.
Input LagWe measured a lag of 58ms in all the picture modes, which is just a tad high for competitive gaming with some genres. It’s certainly a screen you need to demo if gaming is important and you must have this TV.
Sound QualityGiven we have a soundbar with stereo speakers providing a total output of 16W with 4 woofers and two tweeters, we found the sound to be functional at best and a little sibilant if pushed too hard. However, used as an everyday TV the soundbar does a perfectly reasonable job of conveying what is happening on screen. We didn’t find the surround mode added much, other than a wider soundstage, but dialogue started to become lost. Overall it works as intended within the remit of this TV's price point.
Cello P50ANSMT-4K Picture QualityDynamic – Well it is just that with hard clipping of the brightest parts of the image adding to the already painful issues of the gamma doing the same. Faces have no detail and look like everyone has had Botox, with colours also suffering from being too vivid and bright, with a neon effect and edges become indistinct. Some of the worst picture quality we have seen.
Standard – is washed out and again suffers from the gamma issue of clipping bright detail within any image. Faces still look like everyone is addicted to Botox use and anyone wearing a white shirt looks very odd. Colours are more muted than dynamic but still far from being accurate, with whites looking blue.
Theatre – this is the one setting you would assume would try and get close to being accurate and it does try to add in a high contrast feel, but does so by hard clipping blacks and eliminating large parts of the darker parts of the image (I won’t say shadow detail as there is none in any preset). Gamma is still an issue and brighter parts of the image are still blown out, so you have clipping at both ends of the image and not a lot to like in-between. You can probably start to see a pattern here.
Personal – This is the only picture mode that allows any kind of adjustment to the brightness, contrast, sharpness and colour, but like all the others we have no control over gamma. We can however adjust the white balance in the personal mode as well (and can apply this to the other presets) but you can’t do this by eye, only a calibrator or someone with the necessary kit can do this, so defeats the purpose at this price point.
Image quality is based on the Standard mode as a starting point in Personal, which isn’t ideal, but then none of the image presets are good here. Even when calibrated, image quality is compromised by the gamma not following a curve. We didn’t enjoy watching anything on the Cello and we would really like to see the company take on some feedback and implement this to the TV. We don’t think it will take much to improve the performance dramatically.
The TV accepts 4K Ultra HD signals and displays them without HDR and does so to a good standard with motion, resolution and no signs of posterisation of higher bitrate content. Colour and gamma are still an issue that affects image quality.
Feedback for Cello – We understand that this TV is built to a price point and accept that the audience is perhaps not the type of person who would visit and use AVForums. But at the same time, the job of a TV is to display images and sound as close as possible to how that content was mastered and intended. Otherwise, it is just the interpretation of the engineers on what an image should look like, and they are not the creators or artists.
There are clear standards that have been laid down for decades on what an image should look like, and it is the opinion of AVForums that at least one picture setting on any TV should be set up to get as close as possible to display an image to that standard. AVForums has been lobbying TV manufacturers since 2005 on this subject and we are pleased to see that every major brand now realises that director or content creator intent is important and have at least one mode (usually more) that try to get to the standards.
What we have seen from the Cello P50ANSMT-4K is promising because it would only take some slight changes and adding new settings (which probably exist in the service menu and software already in the TV). We saw this recently with electriQ and their OLED TV and just by fixing some of the issues the image was immediately more viewable. We believe you can still have a budget TV aimed at the mass market, which has excellent picture quality, is easy to use, and has everything we suggest you add. Over to you Cello.
- Good viewing angles
- Soundbar built-in
- Can accept 4K content (not HDR)
- Picture quality suffers in every mode due to gamma not tracking a curve at all
- Picture controls are very basic
- Air remote difficult to use with pointer
- Android TV is dated, crashes and is for tablet and mobile devices, not a TV
- Poor contrast and panel uniformity issues
Cello P50ANSMT-4K ReviewWhile in its present form the Cello P50ANSMT-4K is not a TV we can recommend for its picture quality and usability, we do believe that with just a few tweaks of the image controls available and the addition of correct gamma tracking, it could be a bit of a bargain.
We know that is a bit of a leap when the product we are actually reviewing performs poorly in the tests and assessment, but there are enough glimpses of what could be achieved to make us think the company could introduce them and still have a product in the same price bracket, but one that performs well to the accepted industry standards. Yes, consumers at this end of the market probably don’t care at all about standards, or director’s intent or good image quality, but a TV must, in our opinion, have at least one image preset that tries hard to do that, or it will never score highly in our reviews.
We really hope that Cello takes our feedback and assessment in the spirit in which it is intended and that is to focus on small improvements that could turn this TV and future models from the company, into excellent value for money products with more accurate image quality. We look forward to seeing more from this British company and the AVForums door is open to pointing them to what our readers will be looking for in a TV.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £499.99
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level4
SDR Picture Quality4
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box4
Picture Quality Calibrated5
Ease Of Use5
Value for Money5
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