When you hear the Chinese brand name, Huawei, the first thing your brain goes to that happened in the US with the smartphone division and the whole mess behind it, but that didn’t stop the brand from going further. Their focus has shifted over to things like IoT and other products – including TVs – which is what we are going to talk about. The brand graced us with their new Vision S for us to play around and after about a solid month spending time with it – we have some things to say. Before we go any further, we will split this review into two different perspectives: how does it do as a “TV” on its own and how does it do as a “Smart TV” because this TV runs their HarmonyOS.
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As a TV
Marvelous Design Language
After setting it up, one thing we notice and definitely enjoyed looking at is approach Huawei took to make the TV look very minimalistic. Minimalism is hard to achieve, and a lot of brands tend to think they are doing just that but with the wedge-shaped legs and other contraption it uses to make the TV different, doesn’t necessarily scream simplistic but sophisticated instead. The Vision S has a simple design with the near bezel less for better immersion and a stand that looks odd at first and would make anyone wonder how it would sit stable but once you do put the screws and stand together, its one of the least visually interrupting stands I have seen on a TV. It maybe an acquired taste but from what I see, all in all, it’s one nice looking TV.
Depending in which country you live in, there are different variants of TV made available – either a 55” or a 65” depending on your preference. The one Huawei sent us over was the 65” variant. With the display size aside, the rest of the specification through out all the Vision S remains the same with some interesting touch to make it unique. The Vision S comes equipped with a 4K UHD TV, a 120Hz Panel and covers the DCI-P3 Color Gamut up at 92%. Unfortunately, the Vision S doesn’t use a Quantum Dot display nor an OLED display to make the colors lot more vibrant but instead it uses a Direct LED Backlight LCD panel instead.
What you will definitely miss out with the Vision S are the deep dark true blacks and rich color bringing out images alive and when it has a dark black screen, you will notice the popular white-ish kind of glaring light that we see even in normal LCD panels. Thing is, Huawei is aware of it and it might be a deal breaker for most, but it does make up and stands out different with its other feature – especially the 120Hz refresh rate, that’s an interesting one given gaming devices lately has been adding support to selected games and take advantage of higher refresh rates to give a smooth gaming experience.
So, we decided to use the PlayStation 5 and put it to test with Spider Man: Miles Morales, unfortunately, it does have its limitation as the Vision S HDMI ports does not come with HDMI 2.1 support (It only supports HDMI 1.4 and 2.0). Kind of a shame given that this could totally been one great TV to recommend to gamers as the market still lacks many 4K 120Hz TV and this is truly a unique one. It isn’t possible to enable via an update as it’s a hardware update.
But none the less, the experience using the TV was pretty pleasant – unfortunately, the variant we received is the Chinese unit, and that means it has too many applications which the Malaysian market won’t be getting as it doesn’t support it. So, our only way to test the 4K display colors are through playing games and hooking up our PC. When we did, the display is perfectly capable of showing some good colors and sharp images. Watching shows any pretty much most of the content on the Vision S is pretty pleasing and one feature that can be a love-and-hate relation is the Smart MEMC, which transforms the low framerate into 120 fps – not a fan of it as I personally enjoy the normal 24 fps cinematic experience. The brightness of 350nits, might be a hit and miss depending on where you decide to place the TV in your home, but the anti-glare coating does help to a certain extent.
Generally speaking, the speakers found inside TVs are just – for lack of a better word, disappointing. But the Vision S comes equipped with 4 speaker and Huawei’s own Histen audio algorithm to give a true surround extension – this is pretty nice as the speaker does sound pretty well with a decent bass to it and clarity in vocal in Spotify. Obviously if you do want better sound system which you will want to invest in down the line, you should – if you want a much more immersive experience but for what its worth and say if you don’t have the extra penny to fork out for a sound system, these speakers don’t disappoint.
As for the connectivity, you have a decent range of inputs to take advantage of the video gadget you have in your living room. It comes with 3 HDMI 2.0, 1 AV in, 1 USB 3.0 and 1 SPDIF. There isn’t a dedicated HDMI ARC port, so, if you plan to hook up any audio system that heavily relies on that, well, good luck.
Since its obviously a TV, it does come with a Bluetooth Voice control Remote and support for OneHop Projection – basically to tap and mirror your content to the bigger screen. Finally, Internet connectivity is key, and it comes with WiFi support.
Okay, here’s the thing – looking at it as a TV, the Huawei Vision S isn’t too shabby and it definitely competing with some other TVs in the same price bracket. It sure isn’t a perfect one but it makes trade off for features in other department to make it a nice piece of hardware to leave it in the living room or even in your bedroom – wherever you want. The added webcam support brings a lot of possibilities into the room, but it falls short due from a Smart TV perspective. Since, its Huawei’s first AV Product out of China, it creates a lot of room for improvement and I believe it can but there’s one area the TV might face a hiccup, that is – as a Smart TV.
As a Smart TV
HarmonyOS lacks… Harmony.
The Vision S runs their own HarmonyOS which is said to be the cutting-edge OS that will be rivalling Android. If you do go into the settings to find any trace of what Android OS, you can’t because it hides that. But if you already didn’t know, the Huawei Vision S’ HarmonyOS is based on Android but without Google Services. So, the experience you get on this TV is more or less equivalent to their Tablet – the Matepad. What you do get in your living room is a big 55” or 65” inch Tablet sans the touch screen. We did try a lot of things to get the TV to work the way we wanted it to do, like try other features, sideload applications (.apk) which is possible through the USB Port, but unfortunately – with many applications heavily dependent on Google Services, the TV misses out on the ability to broaden its horizon. You can try other applications like Spotify which does work, and we used it to listen to music and other video services which doesn’t rely on Google Services.
Huawei’s Vision with the TV is different
Since it’s a TV, is the whole experience a game over? Well, not quite. Huawei shifted their focus to IoT and home appliances, we have seen that with their AX based routers and much more (and they have received some good reviews from our friends) and Huawei intends to bridge the gap and bring a unified home experience regardless of which smartphone you use because all they need is an application to support their ecosystem – this is kind of a long game but I am very much so interested in seeing how it does turn out.
Some of the features it currently carries, puts the TV in a unique position – like sure it’s a entertainment-centric TV, but it also brings a potential to the table to act as a conference TV for board room with its Webcam. But it requires diversification of its services regardless of which device a user use. Currently it only supports MeeTime, probably down the line we may see other services like Skype or Zoom taking advantage of it – which I think is going to be a game changer.
The Huawei Vision S is a good attempt in reviving their name from being a smartphone brand to a household brand – and getting more choice in the TV segment is a good thing but it’s a competitive area especially with brands that has major market shares like LG, Sony, Samsung dominating the scene.
The HarmonyOS does leave a sore spot and it could have been something else, but if Huawei does take its vision seriously and carry that idea of unifying homes, plus remember, other TVs use their own proprietary OS, there might be light at the tunnel after all – and Huawei, the ball is in your park.
Giving credit where it’s due, Huawei have added quite the number of features to make up for its trade-off in various places – like it uses an LCD Panel but makes up with a better DCI-P3 color gamut coverage – that’s one, support for 120Hz and upscaling content to give higher fps and a 4K panel, a Webcam which you don’t find in any TV and to me the design is tasteful. The Vision S 65” we reviewed comes at a whopping RM 3,999 and I believe they nailed the price on that – but if you want a smaller one, the 55” inch is going for RM 2,999 which is too good to be true.
We here at The Adventures of Vesper give a Silver Award for making an attempt in bringing an appealing product with an impressive price tag. Click here to visit Huawei Store.
Special thanks to Huawei for sending us the Vision S for making this review happen and our friend SJ Teoh for loaning us the PS5 to test some of the features.