- Written by Stephen Hornbrook and Chris Heinonen
- Published on 28 January 2013
Introduction to the SunBriteTV 5560HD 55" Outdoor All-weather LCD HDTV
If you have been to any recent home and garden shows, you may have noticed the increase in outdoor entertainment areas. These usually consist of a covered patio, comfortable seating, fireplace/firepit, and anywhere from just a grill to a full outdoor kitchen area with pizza oven. Sounds like a home outside of your home and all it needs is a TV so you'd never need to leave.
Having a TV outside where you can enjoy the sun and fresh air is certainly not a new concept. In fact, my friend kept a 20-year-old 15" tube TV with rabbit ears outside on their deck for many years. Eventually the damp Pacific Northwest weather took its toll on the old TV and it died an honorable death. When I told my friends I was reviewing an outdoor TV, they didn't believe me when I said it would live its entire life outside in the rain and wind. It's no secret that electronics and water, or extreme hot and cold temperatures don't play too well together, but that didn't stop SunBriteTV from solving that problem. They make a line of all-weather HDTV's specifically designed to live outside and they sent me their 5560HD, an LED lit 55" LCD TV, to test out in the Oregon climate.
SUNBRITETV 5560HD 55" OUTDOOR ALL-WEATHER LCD HDTV SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: LCD Screen 55" Diagonal TFT Active Matrix HDTV
- Native Resolution: 1080p
- Contrast Ratio 5000:1
- Frame Rate: 120 Hz
- Viewing Angle: 176° x 176°
- Response Time: 6.5 ms
- TV Formats: 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i
- Input Connectors: RFI Antenna/CATV (ATSC/QAM/NTSC) x1, HDMI HDMI™ Input x2, Video Composite S-Video x1 and Composite Video x1, L/R Audio Inputs x1, Video Component YPbPr plus Stereo Audio x2, PC 15-pin D-sub VGA plus Stereo Audio, Control Set RS232 Serial, Discrete IR Control, Concealed IR Window
- Audio Out: SPDIF, Analog 1/8" Headphone Jack
- Speakers: Two with 20 Watt Amplifier
- Accessories Included: Weatherproof Remote Control, Outdoor Dust Cover
- Exterior Outdoor Rated ASA High-Impact Resin
- Colors: Black, Silver, White
- Dimensions: 33.6" H x 53.3" W x 7.3" D
- Weight: 109 Pounds
- SECRETS Tags: SunBriteTV, HDTV, LCD, Video
Design and Setup of the SunBriteTV 5560HD 55" Outdoor All-weather LCD HDTV
The 5560HD is part of the company's Signature line, geared towards consumer applications. They also produce a more robust Pro Series and a direct sunlight readable Marquee Series meant for commercial applications such as football stadiums. The SunBriteTV arrived securely packaged along with a separate mounting kit. As I helped the delivery guy carry the large box from the truck to my garage I noticed the TV's significant mass. There was clearly more to this TV than other modern LED lit LCDs.
The build quality on the SunBriteTV is nothing like ordinary indoor TVs. There is no sexy half-inch bezel with chrome accent; instead the frame is thick and bulky with a depth of 7.3 inches. The screen is sunken in with the bezel overhanging a bit, adding a protective element to face of the LCD panel. The shell of the TV is made out of an outdoor rated ASA high-impact resin. The model I had was a flat black, but it is also available in white and silver. A SunBriteTV logo on the bottom and a status LED in the bottom right corner are the only decorations on the front of the TV. Making up the rear are a couple of handle bars and the input panel. Unlike your normal TV's input panel, the SunBriteTV has its inputs inside a covered panel, facing downward to prevent them from sitting in water. The panel door is surrounded in a gasket that seals when then door is closed and tighten with thumb screws. The only thing else to note on the rear was the row of filtered vents for air flow.
The unit comes with a no-frills remote that I had a few issues with. On the plus side, it is also weather proof, so spilling beverages on it is not a problem. On the downside, the remote was not as responsive as I would have liked. The line of site had to be just right for the TV to respond to a button push. Also the buttons are all the same size and the remote is not backlit, so under poor lighting conditions it is very hard to locate something like the volume controls.
SunBriteTV offers a couple of options for the mounting of its displays. You can either go with a wall mount, hooking it up directly to the side of your house (or perhaps above an outdoor fireplace), or you can go with a stand-alone system they refer to as a deck planter pole. Since this was, unfortunately, not a permanent install, I went with the planter pole. It is a heavy duty (10 lbs) powder-coated aluminum post with a flat plate base. The idea is to bolt the plate into a deck, or use concrete screws into a patio. For my temporary install I had to get a bit more creative and bolted the post to a much wider piece of plywood in order to provide a stable base for the TV.
As I mentioned, this is not a light TV, weighing in at a hefty 109 lbs. It took the strength of me and a friend to mount the TV to the stand. Overall, it was a pretty straightforward setup and only took a couple of hours.
For connecting the TV up to a signal I used a wireless HDMI kit from Belkin. This was a lifesaver as I didn't have to figure out how to run a 30 foot cable from the family room to the backyard without having to keep a window open! The Belkin worked great and had no issues receiving a signal through the outside wall and windows of my house. For Blu-ray testing I hooked up a PS3 directly via HDMI.
The SunBriteTV 5560HD 55" Outdoor All-weather LCD HDTV In Use
In my mind an outdoor TV has one major perk: sports. Where there is a BBQ, there is often a game of soccer, baseball, or football on TV and what better way to enjoy some grilled meats and a beer than to sit back with friends, catch some rays, breathe in some fresh air, and watch sports? I was able to get the TV setup just in time for one of the early season Oregon Ducks games. Friends came over and we had good food, drinks and even made a fire when temperature started to drop. Everyone agreed: this is the life. Although, I thought it was missing one thing: a hot tub. I think if I ever have a setup where I can relax in a hot tub with a glass of bourbon and watch some football on a SunBriteTV, then I have made it in life.
So how did the SunBriteTV look? BRIGHT. My first impression of this TV was that it pumped out a lot of light, which is ideal for daytime viewing. When the sun was shining directly on the front panel there was some noticeable, and understandable, glare, but as long as a proper location is chosen for the permanent install this shouldn't be much of a problem. The colors had a nice pop to them without being overblown and given the high brightness, perceived contrast was very good. I sampled the various picture modes: custom/standard/dynamic and didn't find there to be as much variance between modes as in most indoor displays. I chose standard and lowered the brightness a tad and left further adjustments to Chris and his meter and software.
Blu-ray playback was good, but not comparable to today's indoor plasma and LCD sets. The SunBriteTV uses a 120Hz panel and in doing so incorporates some degree of frame interpolation to playback at that rate. This becomes immediately prevalent on 24p sources and I have yet to see a version of frame interpolation that doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies, so I was disappointed to find no option in the menu to disable it.
Sound quality from the SunBriteTV's speakers worked well for sports, but definitely lacked on the movie front. If you were serious about sound when watching blockbusters outdoors, I'd recommend a dedicated pair of outdoor speakers, which would also allow for music while entertaining.
Off angle viewing was pretty good for an LCD set. It won't beat out my plasma by any means, but if you have a group of friends watching the game, I highly doubt any of them would complain about the picture quality sitting off to the side. The TV's brightness seems to help with the off angles.
Is this TV really waterproof? To find out, I turned on the SunBriteTV and sprayed it with the hose.
The refraction from the water droplets certainly don't make for a very watchable experience, but if the SunBriteTV catches some Oregon rain, it will merely laugh and keep on working. I wiped the water off along with some dust that had collected outside and it looked like new again.
The SunBriteTV 5560HD 55" Outdoor All-weather LCD HDTV On the Bench
Sitting down with the SunBriteTV outdoor TV, the picture adjustments were extremely limited. It is the first TV to come through here without any sort of white balance adjustment, so I was stuck using the preset modes and picking what looked best. Even the best mode that I could pick, warm, came out looking very blue and was close to 8000K for an average CCT. For a dedicated home theater room this might be unacceptable, but for an outdoor set where you'll have sunlight hitting it and color shifts caused by daylight, it's not quite as big a deal and the extra light output from this might be appreciated.
The gamut also offered no adjustments aside from Color and Tint. None of the colors were horrible, and they were all better than white as far as the dE 2000 values. The gamut included the full HDTV area without being way outside of it, which leads to neon greens and other issues, and wouldn't be correctable on this set. Overall the color performance was good.
The SunBriteTV was able to produce a ridiculous 120+ fL when everything was cranked up on it, which was so bright it was almost painful to look at a screen that bright at night. You'll have no issue getting enough light output from this set, which is good as it'll be in the direct sun sometimes and you'll need that light output. The SunBriteTV managed to produce 4:2:2, 4:4:4 and RGB colorspaces with full chroma and luma information, and didn't clip any pixels either. It did seem to introduce some motion interpolation that I didn't see a way to defeat, which will bother many people.
3:2 and 2:2 cadences worked fine on the SunBriteTV, with a lock coming fairly fast and not dropping. BTB and WTW material was present if the brightness and contrast were adjusted correctly, and no other major issues were visible. The SunBriteTV isn't going to replace your plasma or projector in your dedicated home theater room, but it isn't meant to. I really would like a 2 point white balance control to be available, as that would really improve the grayscale, but most people probably won't care with the TV going outside.
Conclusions about the SunBriteTV 5560HD 55" Outdoor All-weather LCD HDTV
With the advent of the flat-panel TV, new applications have started coming to fruition, with one of them being all-weather outdoor TV's. It is a brand new market and SunBriteTV is leading the way with their complete line of high definition panels. My time with the SunBriteTV was more than enjoyable and made me quite envious of those with the means to have a complete outdoor living area. In my opinion, if you are designing an outdoor area for entertainment there is no reason to leave out a SunBrite TV. It is built with the ability to take on rain, snow, hot and cold, bugs, and salt air with ease. While you may not get the same state-of-the-art picture quality you'd expect in a similar indoor TV, you do get a very bright LED lit panel, which is critical when watching in the bright sunlight, and good off angle viewing.
Without much competition, there is indeed a price premium for an outdoor TV over a similar indoor, but don't expect that budget 55" indoor LCD to last very long in the elements. As I have found out many times the hard way, doing things right the first time can often save money and stress down the road. My suggestion is, if you plan on setting up a TV outside, do yourself a favor and go with a SunBriteTV. Then fire up the smoker, get the ribs going, and call the friends over to enjoy the good life.