SunBrite TV Signature Series 55-inch Outdoor TV Review: The New Outdoor King

When it comes to getting a TV for your porch or poolside, the SunBrite TV Signature Series 55-inch Outdoor TV ($4,499) is the best we've seen. This weatherproof set can withstand  the elements, and its 4K picture is sharp with HDR support for the best colors. You'll be making some compromises in the name of outdoor capability, however, like the lack of smart-TV functions, or the need to buy a soundbar. However, if you're willing to pay a premium for an outdoor TV, this is the one to buy.

SunBriteTV Signature Series 55-inch Outdoor TV Specs

Price$4,499.00
Screen size55 inches
Resolution3840 x 2160
HDRHDR10
Refresh rate60Hz
Ports2 HDMI, 2 USB
AudioN/A
Smart TV softwareN/A
Size50.5 x 29.7 x 3.8 inches [w/o stand]
Weight68.5 pounds [w/o stand]

Design

The SunBriteTV Signature Series is a 55-inch outdoor TV, and with outdoor capability comes a number of unique design elements. The chassis is rugged aluminum, protected from rust and weather with a black-powder-coat paint job, with a flat black finish on the rear panel and a glossy textured finish on the bezel around the screen.

The Signature Series measures 50.5 x 29.7 x 3.8 inches without the stand, and weighs 68.5 pounds. While that's significantly heavier than comparable indoor TVs – the larger TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV weighs less at 52.3 pounds – other outdoor sets are heavier, like the Evervue Cosmos 40-inch Android TV, which weighs more than 80 pounds, thanks to its heavier steel construction.

The chassis is sealed against many outdoor hazards , from moisture to bugs. Built to work in temperatures ranging from minus 24 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, this TV not only offers good visibility, it can also withstand cold winter nights and blazing summer days. On the back of the TV is a single panel for connecting power and A/V connections, which secures with three thumb screws and has a foam-rubber gasket along the bottom to create a moisture-resistant seal around the cables.

The chassis is sealed against moisture and bugs, and it's built to work in temperatures ranging from minus 24 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

One unexpected frustration with the SunBrite TV is the energy-guide sticker that comes on a new unit. Instead of putting the sticker on the bezel, the one for this set was on the screen itself, and it proved tricky to remove.

Mounting Options

Because our lab isn't set up for full outdoor installation, we asked SunBriteTV to also include a tabletop stand. The chassis has holes to accept a 400mm x 400mm VESA mount, which should work with pretty much any wall mount in that size, but you’ll want to be sure to find something made for outdoor installation. The TV may be rustproof, but most VESA mounts aren't.

SunBriteTV also offers an assortment of mount and stand options. These range from weatherized versions of standard TV VESA mounts, such as tilting and swiveling wall mounts, to freestanding floor stands and hanging ceiling mounts.

Ports

On the back of the TV is one large weatherproofed panel that secures with thumb screws. Inside, you'll find a surprisingly large number of ports and connectors. The TV has two HDMI ports (one with ARC support), two USB ports, component and composite video inputs, a coaxial connection for antenna or cable, as well as an Ethernet port and a connection for a separate IR sensor. There is also a specialized speaker output that works with the included sound bar.

Unlike the many smart TVs we  review, the SunBrite TV Signature Series has no Wi-Fi connectivity. Indeed, it has no smart functionality at all. If you want to stream Netflix or YouTube to your TV, you'll need to add a streaming stick, like Google Chromecast or the Amazon Fire TV.

Performance

Our review model of the Signature Series is outfitted with a 55-inch Ultra-HD display, with an anti-glare coating, 700-nit backlight and HDR support. Watching Spider-Man: Homecoming, dimly lit scenes were punctuated with bright glowing city lights and neon signs, and a fight scene in the night sky on top of a glowing jet looked great.

The HDR support is muted by the SunBriteTV's boosted backlight, but compared with the Evervue Cosmos 40-inch Android TV, which has no HDR support, the difference is dramatic. Watching a scene from Blade Runner 2049, set in a dimly lit farmhouse, I noticed the rich detail in the shadows, and the illuminated doors and windows glowed with a realistic vibrance.

That's not to say the display is perfect. In fact, it suffers from a fairly common problem, albeit one normally seen on much less expensive TVs. The panel uses edge-lit backlighting, which results in far less precise backlight than the full array local dimming options used on more expensive LCD displays.

Normally, this results in large shadows in the corners of the display, but the SunBriteTV had none of the shadows seen on other LCD panels, perhaps due to the amplified brightness the TV uses to improve viewing in partial sunlight conditions. We did, however, see some inconsistent lighting around the edges of the panel, which frequently varied with some spots slightly brighter and others slightly shadowed along all four edges of the display.

Viewing angles were another major concern, with dramatic shifts in color seen from almost any angle other than straight on. Purples turned pink, and oranges  yellow even when viewed from a very slight angle. You'll still be able to watch it with other people, but with more than two or three people, those on the outside edges may notice some skewed colors. On a standard TV, this would be serious problem, but compared with other outdoor TVs, like the Evervue Cosmos 40-inch Android TV or last year's SunBrite TV Veranda model, it still offers superior picture quality overall.

MORE: Best Smart TVs - The Best 4K and HD Televisions for the Money

Lab testing confirmed what I suspected from the outset – whatever the viewable performance, it wouldn't have the best picture quality, due to the display tweaks used to improve visibility in daylight.

The display delivers solid color reproduction, registering 99.8 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which isn't that far off what we've seen on indoor TVs, whether it was the premium LG E7 OLED (99.9 percent) or the much more affordable TCL 6-Series (99.96 percent). It's also an improvement over last year's SunBrite TV (97.4 percent).

Color accuracy wasn't great, with a delta-E rating of 6.7 ( 0 being a perfect score), a far cry from standard sets, like the TCL 6-Series (1.1) or the LG E7 OLED (2.5). Compared with other outdoor TVs, however, the results start looking a lot better. While last year's SunBriteTV Veranda had better color accuracy (3.5), the Evervue Cosmos 40-inch Android TV (13.1) is much worse, and shows how badly picture quality can be skewed in the pursuit of outdoor viewing.

Audio

The SunBriteTV actually has no internal audio. Speakers always present a point of difficulty for weatherproof TVs, since they require open grilles to let sound pass through the TV chassis to the listener, and those openings create a gap in the defenses that keeps out the water and dust that weatherproofing a TV requires. The SunBriteTV sidesteps this problem, ditching speakers in the TV chassis for an external soundbar. While you can use the TV with any decent outdoor speakers, SunBriteTV does offer a number of soundbars made for the backyard patio and similar outdoor environs.

The company provided its own SunBriteTV All-Weather 2-Channel Passive Soundbar Speaker ($999.95) with our review unit, since it's the model they recommend for any of their 49 to 65-inch Signature Series TVs. Its exterior shields internal components from rain, snow, dust, insects, humidity and salt air, and the components are rated to withstand the same broad range of temperatures that the TV does.

This TV doesn't come with speakers, but SunBriteTV offers a number of soundbars made for the backyard patio and similar outdoor environs.

Connecting the soundbar is slightly more complicated than the average HDMI-connected model. The audio connects with basic speaker-wire terminals on the soundbar, tucked behind a protective rubber cover. The speaker wires are bundled into a single audio cable with a 4-pin connector to plug into the TV.

The TV may not have any audio to offer on its own, but the soundbar offered great sound quality. When listening to the Silversun Pickups' "Lazy Eye," the audio quality was excellent, with clear guitar licks, sharp percussion and rich, full bass.

Similar quality was heard while watching test videos and movies, such as Blade Runner 2049. Whether it was an intimate whispered conversation, or combat punctuated with gunfire and missile strikes, the sound quality was superb.

MORE: Best Cheap 4K TVs (Under $500), Ranked from Best to Worst

All of this serves to drive home our common advice to get a soundbar for better audio quality then a standard TV will offer on its own. On most TVs, it's an optional purchase. On the SunBriteTV Signature series, it's a necessity.

Remote Control

The SunBriteTV's remote, like the TV, is designed to withstand the elements and as such has a waterproof plastic surface across all the buttons and a battery compartment that screws down tight to form a waterproof seal. The bubble buttons are identical in shape and size regardless of function, which makes distinguishing one button from another nearly impossible to do by feel. It's identical to the remote that came with last year's SunBriteTV Veranda model.

What we would really like to see on the buttons is some sort of Illumination, whether it's a powered LED backlight or simply glow-in-the-dark markings. As it stands, it's difficult to tell which button is which in anything but broad daylight, making the remote nearly unusable should you want to watch a movie in dark and evening environments.

Bottom Line

The SunBriteTV Signature Series 55-inch Outdoor TV is pricey, but it's a solid option for your yard or pool cabana, with a relatively slim and attractive weatherproof design. The picture quality is very good, and the vibrant picture is enhanced with HDR support. It's the best outdoor TV we've seen this year, especially when paired with the suggested SunBrite soundbar.

We do wish the SunBrite came with smart-TV capabilities, or had its own sound, but compared with the Evervue Cosmos 40-inch Android TV, which has a clunky, tacked-on smart-TV system and lousy audio, it's well worth the extra money. The SunBriteTV is an outdoor TV that simply does the job and does it well.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Create a new thread in the Audio forum about this subject
No comments yet
Comment from the forums
    Your comment