Insignia NS-50DF710NA21 Review
The Insignia NS-50DF710NA21 is a Fire TV set that combines low price and decent (if not class-leading) performance to edge ahead of most budget smart TVs we’ve seen previously.
- Affordable 4K smart TV
- HDR support
- Alexa voice assistant built in
- Middling black levels
The Insignia NS-50DF710NA21 is an Amazon-powered smart TV, and it’s among the few we’d recommend as one of the best TVs for those shopping on a budget.
We’ve seen Amazon’s impressive Fire TV OS held back by bargain-bin 4K TVs from brands like Westinghouse and Toshiba, and its fairly refreshing to see Insignia brand stepping up to offer decent sets to match the quality of the software. This set isn’t perfect by any measure, but the Insignia is the best Fire TV we’ve reviewed, and it delivers great picture for a big-screen, budget set.
The 50-inch set measures 44.4 x 26.1 x 3.3 inches minus the stand and weighs only 25.4 pounds, making it small enough for a single person to move and assemble.
A pair of plastic feet support the screen, and while they feel a little chunky, they look great – they are perpendicular to the display instead of the awkward angled position that you find on so many inexpensive designs. This is a remarkable improvement, but for a low-priced TV, even small design changes do make a difference.
Around the back, there are four-hole pattern for a standard 200 x 200-millimeter VESA. Port options are a bit scarce but acceptable for an entry-level TV. On the left side, there are two panels of inputs, one facing the left and includes two HDMI ports (one with ARC support), a single USB port, and a headphone jack for audio output. There’s also a second, rear—facing panel that offers a third HDMI, an RF connector for antenna and cable, composite video input, digital optical output for surround an Ethernet port.
Wireless connectivity comes in way of 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Going by its specs, the Insignia NS-50DF710NA21 stands out as a good entry-level 4K TV: a 50-inch display, a 60-Hz refresh rate and limited HDR capability. That’s a lot of Amazon TV than you’re paying for, and it will surely amaze you out of the box. It offers adequate color accuracy that easily matches that of the slightly expensive TCL 55R625, making it a worthwhile budget TV. It can display 4K high dynamic range (HDR) content in HDR 10, but it doesn’t support Dolby Vision or other HDR content types.
When watching BBC’s Planet Earth II, the scenes look great though you can easily notice the TV’s dimmer screen and smaller color range as compared to the 6-Series or more expensive sets like LG’S OLED55C9PUA or Samsung’s QN55Q70RAFXZA. Still, the trees and blue-greens on the “Islands” episode look clear and natural, though fine textures like fur and bark are crisp when well-lit. That said, shadows become a bit blurry and the fairly dim screen doesn’t look quite as lifelike as they do on brighter panels.
Fire TV Remote
Included is a Fire TV remote that is customized for TVs, that is a bit larger and more complex than the common voice remote included with Amazon Fire TV media streamers. The design remains the same, though, a slim black plastic wand with a prominent glossy black circular navigation pad. Just above the pad, there are three menu buttons and another three playback buttons sit below the pad, with the power and microphone buttons sitting on the top of the remote near a pinhole mic.
Apparently, that’s the standard layout for Fire TV streamer remotes, but Insignia does add a volume rocker, and live TV button below the playback controls. Plus, there are dedicated buttons for Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Netflix, and PlayStation Vue. The remote sends signals via infrared alongside Bluetooth, meaning you can use it to control the TV if the Bluetooth connection drops, without necessarily needing to re-pair the remote.
Fire TV OS & Alexa
For you to get the most of Fire TV features, you’ll need to sign in with your Amazon account, which is very typical of Fire TV streamers, that are built around using your account for transactions like purchasing app and renting media. However, on the Insignia Fire TV Edition, you don’t absolutely need an Amazon account to use the TV. There is an optional Basic mode that lets you use the TV as a TV, without access to most streaming features in the interface, but providing access to the TV’s varied inputs.
Still, most of us would want to use our Amazon account to access the full features on the Insignia Fire TV Edition, bearing in mind how robust it is as a smart TV platform. For instance, it lets you access most streaming services, including Amazon Video and Music, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, Spotify and Twitch. Curiously, Google Play Movies & TV as well as Google Play Music are absent, and YouTube loads only via the Firefox or Silk web browsers.
Not surprising at all, while the Fire TV OS is ideally based on Android, rarely do you see Amazon and Google get along much on content. The Fire TV includes access to the Alexa voice assistant, which you can easily use on the Insignia Fire TV Edition by pressing the microphone button on the remote and speaking into it. Sure, it may not be handsfree as the Echo or Echo Spot, but it’s still functional out of the box with the press of a button.
While I’ve had reservations with Amazon’s smart Fire TVs in the past, the Insignia NS-50DF710NA21 is the first one I’d recommend. It combines low price and decent (if not class-leading) performance to edge ahead of most budget smart TVs we’ve seen previously.
That said, the TCL 55R635 remains our favorite 4K TV, mostly for its extensive HDR support and excellent picture quality, but the all-new Insignia NS-50DF710NA21 manages to match the set in a few key respects. If you’re looking a widescreen set with robust smart TV features, this is easily an excellent choice.