Screen size: 55 inches
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Ports: 3 HDMI (1 ARC), 1 USB
Audio: 10 watts, 2.0 Channel
Smart TV software: Fire TV 126.96.36.199
Size: 48.9 x 28.6 x 3.3 [w/o stand]
Weight: 29.3 inches [w/o stand]
The latest version of Insignia's Fire TV Edition sets, the Insignia F30 Fire TV Edition, remains a good bargain and one of the best models with Amazon’s Fire TV built in. Costing just $429 — and available for less as we see holiday discounts — the NS-55DF710NA21 is an incremental update from last year’s version. It's also notably better than it's competitor and cousin, seen in our Toshiba 4K Fire TV Edition (2020 model) review.
The best feature remains its quick and responsive implementation of Fire TV OS and all the goodies that come with it. At first you may be disappointed with the picture on the LCD screen due to the way it’s set up out of the box. But with some adjustments, it can produce a good picture for the price.
Editor's Note: The Insignia model reviewed here was recently renamed the Insignia F30 Series Fire TV Edition, and we have updated some of the language in this review to reflect that change. The rating and overall recommendations of our review remain unchanged from when it ran in December of 2020.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Price and availability
We tested the 55-inch version of the Insignia F30 Series Fire TV Edition, sold at Best Buy and Amazon. But there are several other sizes of the Insignia Fire TV available, if you’re looking for something larger or smaller.
We've listed the recommended retail prices below, but be aware that the Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition is frequently on sale, and most models have been available at lower prices off and on for the last several months. Even without discounts, the Insignia earns a place among the best TVs under $500.
- 43-inch (model NS-43DF710NA21) - $279.99
- 50-inch (model NS-50DF710NA21) - $339.99
- 55-inch (model NS-55DF710NA21) - $389.99
- 65-inch (model NS-65DF710NA21) - $519.99
- 70-inch (model NS-70DF710NA21) - $619.99
Across these models, the Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition line is virtually identical, offering the same number of ports, the same 4K resolution and HDR support, and the same display. All the sets use a direct backlight and feature the same processor. As a result, we expect the performance for all sizes to have the same strengths and weaknesses as the 55-inch model we used for this review.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Design
The 48.9 x 28.6 x 3.3-inch Insignia F30 looks like what it is: an inexpensive TV. Its dark plastic case doesn’t project an air of prestige like pricier TVs do. And unlike many newer (and more expensive) TVs, it still has a rather thick half-inch bezel around the edge. But that said, it’s not an eyesore, either.
The included plastic feet also look a little cheap, and they weren’t nearly as easy to put on as those that come with more expensive TVs from companies like LG and Samsung. Instead of snapping in, you have to use screws to secure the feet to the bottom of the TV, and small hands would help to get the screws inside the enclosure. Alternatively, you can get a 200 x 200 VESA wall mount if you don’t want to deal with the stand.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Ports
The Insignia F30 Fire TV Edition has three HDMI ports, including one that supports audio return channel (ARC) for easy connection to a soundbar. That number is pretty typical for TVs in this price range. It also has a composite video connection, a coaxial RF antenna connection and a USB port, but it doesn’t have a component video input.
The HDMI inputs are located on the left side, while the optical digital audio, RCA analog audio, antenna and composite video inputs are on the back of the TV. None are particularly easy to access, but that will only be an issue if you have to change what’s connected to the TV frequently.
For sound, you can use optical digital audio or RCA analog (or HDMI ARC). The Insignia F30 also supports Bluetooth for listening wirelessly on headphones, or you can connect wired headphones to the 3.5mm port located above the HDMI ports.
To enable the smarts of this Fire TV, you connect to the Internet through Wi-fi or wired Ethernet.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Performance
Last year’s Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition was the first impressive implementation of Fire TV in a budget model that we’d tested. The Insignia F30 takes a few steps forward and a few steps back in terms of quality.
It produced a sharp picture overall, but it’s far from a great viewing experience out of the box. The underwater scenes in My Octopus Teacher were crisp and realistic. But don’t move too far from center while watching — the TV’s limited viewing angles change the colors significantly when you get to 45 degrees from the middle.
Using the default settings, the picture looked oversaturated and colors skewed toward red. While watching Blade Runner 2049 on 4K Blu-ray, the orange sky in the ruins of Las Vegas was too orange and overwhelmed the scenes. The F30 supports HDR10, but not HDR10+ or Dolby Vision. As a result, HDR performance was limited and contrast was poor; it lost details in the darkness while watching both Blade Runner 2049 and Avengers: Infinity War.
Testing in our lab showed that its color gamut was 96.68 percent — much worse than the 99.45 that last year’s model scored but on par with the Vizio V505-G9 (96.48). The screen also showed some improvements. Color accuracy was much better, with a Delta-E score of 2.7 versus 3.9 last year (the V505-G9 scored an even better 2.3). The Insignia F30 also improved on brightness, putting out 347 nits, compared to 307 for last year’s version and the V505-G9’s relatively low 287 nits.
Blurring presented another problem, especially with motion processing and dynamic noise reduction on. The TV had trouble keeping up with fast action sequences during The Old Guard and quick drives down the lane in a live basketball game. The F30’s lag time is actually a little better than last year, scoring 36.4 milliseconds on our Leo Bodnar signal lag tester (last year’s was 38.8). That score still won’t impress gamers, who typically want lag times in the 20s or lower.
Part of that is due to the TV’s 60Hz refresh rate. But as soon as I made some adjustments to the settings, the picture quality improved and the TV became much more enjoyable to watch. I preferred Natural picture mode to the default standard; the oversaturation I saw disappeared. After I turned off motion processing and dynamic noise reduction, the problems with blurring significantly reduced.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Audio
The Insignia F30 produces pretty impressive audio for a TV, regardless of price. Though it only supports Dolby Audio, not Dolby Atmos, it delivered a much wider sound than a typical TV with 2-channel sound. It helped make the viewing experience more encompassing. But dialog while watching Blade Runner 2049 and Infinity War was lost a bit in the mix, with the surround sound outweighing the voices.
Even with its better-than-average sound, a soundbar would be a worthy addition to your home theater set up.
Similar to the video settings, you can improve the quality of the sound by changing the sound mode. Options include Standard, Music, Movie, Clear Voice, Enhanced Bass and Custom (Standard is selected by default). I thought Enhanced Bass worked better for both dialog and action scenes.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Smart features
If you’re familiar with Amazon’s Fire TV stick, you’ll feel right at home while using the Insignia F30 Fire TV Edition. As with last year’s Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition, Fire TV on the Insignia F30 is fast and responsive.
Since this is a Fire TV, Amazon Prime Video movies and shows are front and center on the home screen. You’ll also see recently used apps there. Menu options include Live for live TV services; Your Videos, which is focused on your Prime Video watchlist and recommendations; Free, which shows free services and movies and shows that are free; Movies; TV Shows; Apps; and Settings.
While it doesn’t come with many apps installed, you can download apps for most services you’ll want, including Netflix, Hulu and HBOMax. You can also run live TV from YouTube TV, Sling and others. Conveniently, once you install a live TV app, you can access it through the TV button on the remote.
To get the Fire TV setup, you start by choosing Basic or Full. Basic doesn’t require an Amazon account, but you only get live TV through an antenna and five apps. Full setup requires you login to Amazon, but then you get all the features you’ll want from the smart OS — including Alexa.
You activate Alexa by pressing the microphone button on the remote (there’s no hands-free activation on this TV). Alexa can help you start apps, go to specific videos or change inputs — it did all those things much more quickly than navigating the menus. Thanks to its smart home integration, it also switched on my holiday lights when asked.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Remote control
The Insignia remote is similar to a Fire TV Stick remote and it has a solid and comfortable feel. This year’s model has a few more buttons than last year’s. With all the options, there’s very little empty space left.
In addition to a ring-shaped navigation pad and the usual buttons on a remote, there are buttons for accessing the antenna or live TV services you subscribe to; settings; and quick access to recent apps, among others. Just below the power button is the microphone button for accessing Alexa. There are dedicated buttons for Netflix, HBO and Hulu, as well as Prime Video, which seems extraneous since the home screen is dominated by Prime Video choices.
Insignia F30 Fire TV: Verdict
When you’re looking for an affordable TV, you often have to compromise on features. With the Insignia F30 Fire TV Edition, you don’t have to give up a full-featured smart OS or a sharp picture, making it one of the better bargains for one of the best 4K TVs. You will have to deal with some color issues and blurring, but adjusting the TV’s settings will help that immensely.
Cheaper TVs are available. The Vizio V-Series 55-inch model runs just $339.99 — almost $100 less than the NS-55DF710NA21. You get similar picture quality, but a much less smart OS. Having Alexa inside the Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition brings a lot of value, from voice control of TV functions to access to your smart home devices. That may make the trade off in price worth it.