Seiki SE22FR01 Retro TV Review
A throwback with a modern twist
Behind the Screens
The Seiki SE22FR01 (MSRP $249.99) does a great job at looking like a 60s-era television, but it misses the mark a little when it comes to modern expectations for picture quality. We tested a narrow contrast ratio, skewed color production, bizarre gamma correction, and an error-filled grayscale. Fortunately, the story wasn't all bad: This retro TV has decent motion and uniformity, so at the very least most content is palatable.
A display's color gamut is a visual representation of all the colors it can display. There's an international standard for TVs—lovingly called Rec. 709 within the industry—that dictates the exact hue and saturation a display's red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow should be.
The SE22FR01 struggles to meet these expectations on a few fronts: The cyan and magenta it produces are both way off in terms of hue, and blue is much too emphasized within the color spectrum and within sub-pixel balance.
Grayscale & RGB Balance
A display's "grayscale" is the spectrum of neutral shades it produces—blacks, grays, and whites. Because displays use digital "additive" color, they create neutral shades by combining red, green, and blue sub-pixels. Ideally, the sub-pixels will be of equal emphasis within grayscale production, resulting in the same "shade" of white/gray/black across the grayscale.
Unfortunately, the SE22FR01 tested with a total error sum ("DeltaE") of 8.16, which lowered its final ranking considerably. Grayscale error is acceptable at a DeltaE of 3 or less—8.16 is much too high.
We can look closer at the reasons behind these grayscale errors by studying a display's RGB balance. This Seiki Retro TV makes the sub-pixel error that so many modern displays make, over-emphasizing the blue sub-pixel at the expense of the red sub-pixel, resulting in an imbalanced grayscale.
Gamma refers to how quickly or slowly a display's grayscale luminance increases out of minimum luminance, or black. A higher gamma number like 2.2 or 2.4 means a slower exit from black, whereas a lower gamma number like 1.9 or 1.8 means a quicker exit from black into middle luminance. TVs typically follow a gamma of 2.2 for brighter environments, and 2.4 for darker environments. The SE22FR01 is clearly set up for a brighter environment—we tested a gamma of 1.92.
Viewing angle refers to how far from center you can watch a display without picture degradation. For LCDs like the SE22FR01, we like to see a total viewing angle of at least ±45°—sadly, this is rarely the case. While this Seiki didn't meet our ideals, it did test decently with a total viewing angle of 40°, or ±20° from the center to either side. This isn't much of a problem, considering how small this TV is.
Contrast ratio refers to a display's ability to make you believe it—a high X:1 number means a lot of luminance is contrasted against a convincing minimum luminance, which makes brighter objects pop and stand out, and dark areas and shadows look more realistic. The SE22FR01 tested with a rather poor contrast ratio of 631:1, resulting from an overly bright black level of 0.22 cd/m2 and an equally unimpressive peak brightness of 138.90 cd/m2.
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