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Seiki SE22FR01 Retro TV Review

22 in.

A throwback with a modern twist

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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.

Color Gamut

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.

gamut.jpg

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.

Grayscale.jpg

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.

RGB-Balance.jpg

Gamma

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.

Gamma.jpg

Viewing Angle

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.

viewing-angle.jpg

Contrast Ratio

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.

contrast.jpg
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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