Upstar UE2220 LED TV Review

What's up with this Upstar?

$159.00 MSRP
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22 in.

Meet the Upstar UE2220: a tiny, 22-inch, full HD television that you’re likely to find behind a bar or in a hotel room. With an MSRP of $159 (and an online price of as little as $119), it’s about as cheap a TV as you’re going to find, but like everything in life, you get what you pay for.

It’s difficult to recommend the UE2220 to anyone other than people searching for the smallest, cheapest TV available. On top of its small stature, the UE2220 just doesn’t perform well at all.

The Looks & Experience

Blends in with the wallpaper

Being a tiny TV, the UE2220 doesn’t have a lot of real estate to make a stylistic impression. That said, the best thing I can say about the UE2220 is that it’s innocuous. People won’t really notice it until it’s on, which isn’t exactly praiseworthy, but it’s better than being an outright ugly TV.

Credit: / Michael Desjardin
The UE2220 follows the time-honored entry-level TV tradition of featuring a plain, rectangular stand.

Its plain, black panel rests atop a plain, glass stand; two black squares connected by a neck. The security of the stand itself doesn’t inspire confidence since the panel doesn’t sit on it tightly—on more than one occasion I assumed I had broken it.

The remote control is straight out of 1998: chintzy plastic, bright orange buttons, and a remarkable ability to not work about 40% of the time.

In any event, bemoaning the UE2220’s lack of style is kind of like complaining that your Big Mac wasn’t plated in an elegant manner—you get what you pay for.

Credit: / Michael Desjardin
If you've got more than one device, be forewarned: The UE2220 only has one HDMI port.

On the back of the UE2220’s panel is an L-shaped cutout that harbors an HDMI port, composite/component inputs, a VGA input, an RF input, a headphone jack, and a USB port.


The Picture

Not a lot of screen, not a lot of upside

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a TV of this price isn’t exactly a world-beater, even in the entry-level field. Despite the UE2220’s ability to produce deep, inky black levels and bright, contrasting highlights, I found that the TV severely crushes its mid-tone details, resulting in a dull, washed-out picture.

The UE2220 severely crushes its mid-tone details, resulting in a dull, washed-out picture.

The UE2220 also struggles to produce accurate secondary colors like cyan and magenta, giving content a bluish hue that will likely be noticed by even the most untrained eye. For more on this, check out the Science page.

Credit: / Michael Desjardin
If these leaves look a bit blue to you, it's not just your imagination. Like a lot of entry-level TVs, the UE2220 over-emphasizes its blue sub-pixel.

Ordinarily, I’d recommend a TV of this nature for gaming enthusiasts who just need a secondary TV for gaming, but given the UE2220’s small size, I can only see this relationship working out for people who intend on sitting a few feet away from the screen.

As for cinephiles, I say, “walk on by;” there’s not a lot of upside here. This is a TV to watch a weather report on before leaving the house in the morning, not something to watch a Paul Thomas Anderson movie on.

This is a TV to watch a weather report on before leaving the house in the morning.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the UE2220’s speakers, which sound as if they’re inside of aluminum cans. Given the price of the UE2220 it’d be foolish to expect dazzling audio, but this is particularly bad—we’re talking tinny, distorted, and with no bass to speak of. It’s the aural equivalent of bland soup. Keep this in mind if you’re hoping to put the UE2220 in a busy kitchen or an otherwise loud room.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Upstar UE2220, take a look at these other televisions.

The Verdict

Well, it’s cheap.

If you’re considering a TV that costs this little, chances are that you’ve already made peace with the fact that it’s going to have some questionable performance aspects. That said, I urge you to consider the UE2220’s tiny stature and hellacious audio.

This is hardly a TV for a bedroom, let alone a living room. Its natural habitat is a kitchen, dorm room, and perhaps a small guest room. Essentially, if you’re envisioning yourself viewing the UE2220 from more than a few feet away, I would avoid it altogether; its size plus its shortcomings make for a bad bedroom or living room television.

Since the UE2220 is a close-quarters TV, it would work well as a cheap, 720p monitor. However, for this purpose, a more versatile option would be the Seiki SE24FE01, which is available for roughly the same price.

There are certainly better TVs in this size range—the Samsung UN24H4500, for example—but they're not going to be as dirt cheap as the UE2220.

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