Seiki SE24FE01 LED TV Review
This little TV can be a jack of multiple trades, but will never be master of movie night.
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The Seiki SE24FE01 (MSRP $169) is an entry-level LED TV from Seiki, manufacturer of the ever-charming Retro TV.
This 24-inch model may attract buyers for two key reasons: an unbeatable price tag, and the fact that it's actually attractive. It's not every day you see a white TV!
The unusual design aesthetic helps this Seiki stand out in a sea of asymmetrical entry-level TVs. It's also available in 22, 40, 48, and 50 inches with prices ranging from $126 to $589, but only the 24-inch version is white.
What's not so attractive is this TV's contrast. Poor black levels and a fairly dim output make it a sorry choice for serious cinephiles or graphics-loving gamers—you folks are better off with something like the Samsung UN24H4500, which you can find online for about $30 more.
On the other hand, it's pretty hard to argue with this Seiki's price tag or unique white finish, and its Full HD resolution and decent color accuracy make it a perfectly capable performer in the roles of desktop monitor or kitchen TV.
The Looks & Experience
"A gold doubloon for the first man who spots the white whale!"
This 24-inch Seiki looks great, if only because it looks different. When it comes to entry-level TVs, the black rectangle look saturates the market like leaves on a tree. The SE24FE01 is dressed head-to-toe in white plastic; from the back of the display to the bezels and stand, even the power cord is white.
The plastic itself feels kind of cheap to the touch, but looks great from a distance—this TV would shine in a kitchen, guest room, or even on your desktop as a monitor. Our only gripe is that, even with a careful assembly, it's a little wobbly on its stand.
This Seiki strikes a nice, slim profile from the side and is thus very lightweight, meaning you could easily tote it from place to place along with you.
Included in the box is a standard infrared remote control—also white—and all of the usual new purchase accoutrement: the panel, stand, assemble materials, and warranty information.
Following modern trends, this Seiki's input/output ports are arranged vertically on the left side of the TV. Here, you'll find (from top to bottom): a headphone jack, a coaxial jack for cable/antenna connection, analog audio in, PC audio in, VGA (PC video) in, one HDMI input, one USB 2.0 input, and an optical audio output jack.
This isn't the widest spread of connectivity options, but for an entry-level TV it's not bad.
Unfortunately, this Seiki is a bit less handsome on the "inside" than the "outside." The software menus for Picture/Audio/Setup aren't particularly attractive or overly fleshed-out, but they make ends meet.
Navigating the menus with the included remote is easy, though it's a much more sluggish process than you'd get with a smart TV and touchpad remote.
This Seiki's best foot forward sees it on your desktop, not in your living room.
With TVs this small, it's always worth asking whether they might serve better as an inexpensive computer monitor, and that happens to be the case for the Seiki SE24FE01. Testing revealed certain weaknesses that dampen its ability to offer viewers a great movie night experience.
Perhaps the most important aspect of an immersive, edge-of-your-seat TV experience is screen contrast. Basically, you want a TV that can get both very bright and very dark to capture the realism of each scene in whatever you're watching.
The SE24FE01 falls short here, delivering overly luminous shadows and a light output (in Movie mode) that fails to impress. This is definitely the TV's biggest drawback. There's also no backlight control to make it any brighter, so you're stuck with Seiki's pre-sets.
Contrast isn't as important for desktop tasks like web browsing or compressed videos a la YouTube, however, and that's probably where the SE24FE01 shines brightest. At this size, a 1080p resolution is plenty sharp for website text and most images.
What's more, the SE24FE01 tested with clean, neutral grayscale tones and fairly accurate color, meaning most stuff will look pretty solid—it just won't have great contrast.
If I had to recommend a use-case for this TV, it would be as a dual monitor/television. Some video games, particularly first-person shooters, won't suffer much from the low contrast, but cinematic content like Blu-ray discs, DVDs, Netflix, and very graphics-heavy games like BioShock Infinite will look far from their best due to the very poor contrast.
Before you buy the Seiki SE24FE01, take a look at these other televisions.
A good value for everyone but strict cinephiles.
If you're looking for the cream-of-the-crop in your next TV, you're not going to get it in this price range. Gray, washed-out shadow tones plague this TV's picture, making it a less-than-suitable candidate for subtle film content with lots of contrasting elements on the screen. Without a backlight control in the menu, you won't be able to adjust the TV for variable lighting, something sure to annoy picture perfectionists.
Everyone else? Go for it. This Seiki can stand in as a general use monitor, a kitchen TV for sports, weather, or news, or a go-to display for bright, twitchy video games like Geometry Wars or Counter-Strike. Just don't expect the image to take your breath away.
If you're looking for a practical purchase and are sick of the usual entry-level TV landscape (i.e. the Black Rectangle Parade), check this Seiki out.
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