PRISM+ Q65-QE PRO: I don’t care any more, I’m buying the cheapest TV

The idea of a cheap TV isn't new, but it might finally be good enough.

by Justin Choo

If you are the astute reader that I believe you are, you’d have called BS exactly five seconds ago. Yes, the PRISM+ Q65-QE PRO is not the cheapest TV, though the sentiment is pretty much the same – buying a budget TV isn’t always a bad thing. With the quality that you get these days for the money, it might be worth considering as the first port of call.

For that matter, the Q65-QE PRO isn’t even the cheapest 65″ TV in Prism+’s e-store. But it is rather cheap for what it offers. The question is this: do you actually need more than the essentials? If you thumb through its features, two key declarations stand out – Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos. These are certifications that guarantee at least a satisfactorily high level of performance, and for a TV that’s likely to be used primarily for streaming apps and YouTube. These days, this is often what most people use it for anyway. Dare I say that it’s pretty much all we need? I don’t think I’m out of line there.

I think it speaks volumes that this TV checks off so many of the essential boxes and is cheap for its expected lifespan. The Q65-QE PRO is priced at $1,239 before any additional discounts, and it comes with a three-year warranty and free on-site installation as standard. That works out to about $310 per year or 85 cents per day over three years. If you manage to make it to five, that’s $248 per year or 68 cents per day. A potential caveat here is that I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had to deal with warranty claims, so I can’t say for certain that it will be a breeze.

While budget TVs have been around before PRISM+ was established, I think PRISM+ has pretty much hit the nail on the head with their marketing. They’ve figured out that many people don’t really need that many frills and are willing to settle for fewer features so long as the TV does what they need it to do. And the converse is true as well. If I’m a cinephile, there’s little chance I’d be sniffing around here because I need top-of-the-line stuff. If I’m looking for something for gaming, I’ll be scrutinising only a narrow band of screens that meet the requirements for refresh rates and input lag. Basically, it’s highly unlikely that you will be building anything specialised or ’endgame’ around a Q65-QE PRO screen. But if I just want something to log in for Netflix, then well, look no further.

While the TV carries the Dolby certifications, we have to be realistic: it’s not going to beat your top-dollar OLED Sony Bravias. The Q65-QE PRO may be a step up over Prism+’s regular Q series TVs (which frankly isn’t bad at all), but even your iPhone Pro can do better colours and contrast. Brightness isn’t quite there? Slight bleeding of light on the edges? A hint of motion blur? Unfortunately, this is par for the course when you’re looking at budget TVs but the upside is that we might have reached a point in manufacturing where these shortcomings are no longer fatal flaws; so long as you don’t set a good TV right next to it, chances are you wouldn’t what you’re missing.

Because at the end of the day, we wouldn’t really pay attention if the show we’re watching is compelling enough. Unless of course, you’re watching The Battle of Winterfell, in which case you’d moan about how dumb it is, then moan about how bad the lighting is, then entertain the niggling thought at the back of your head that the TV might not have the dynamic range required. But that’s an extreme case (the TV, not that sorry excuse of a show). Aside, the visual performance is good enough and doesn’t detract from the viewing experience.

OK, so what about the audio? The Q65-QE PRO comes stock with 15W Dolby Atmos-certified speakers. Interestingly enough, Prism+ says that it’s the same set of speakers regardless of which size of TV you buy in the PRO series. In spite of what misgivings we might have with speakers on a budget TV, these are surprisingly loud and have a fair bit of presence. They are never thin-sounding. A smaller room size helps, but it should be good for most if not all HDB-sized living rooms. If you find that these speakers are too weak, then may I propose that we trade neighbours? But on a serious note, if you really must add a better speaker system, the Q65-Qe PRO has an HDMI Arc connector for that.

Aside from the average display, the other trade-off that is most keenly felt is in the aesthetics department. Materials-wise, the Q65-QE PRO feels rather basic. Fortunately, Prsim+ has done a fairly decent job of hiding it. They made the bezels slim, which seems like a good way to disguise the TV’s lack of decor. The bezels rarely catch your attention in the face of that massive screen. And you really have to go digging in the back to see how they’ve kept the price modest.

The Q65-QE PRO is not particularly well-endowed with connectivity options but what it does have covers the essentials for a simple setup. For starters, it has dual-band Wi-Fi and Ethernet, as well as three HDMI 2.0 ports (one ARC). Just enough for an amplifier, a gaming console, and one spare for another device such as your laptop, if need be. If you’re considering this for gaming, just note that a 120 Hz refresh rate is out of the question.

Every Prism+ TV in the PRO series has 32GB storage as default, which is fairly modest and you should have enough space to install some frequently used apps and have enough left over to store some content or recordings.

Navigating with Google TV was an OK experience – it’s wasn’t exactly flagship smartphone snappy but neither was it excruciating. But what’s nice is that the Far Field Voice Control worked far better than I expected, and I was able to give voice commands from the edge of a room as long as I spoke clearly.

Prism+ is also throwing in freebies in the form of a free 12-month subscription to MeWatch and a free 3-month subscription to Viu, making this the perfect ready-made offering for elderly parents.

So is the Q65-QE Pro an automatic purchase for budget TVs? Almost. An argument could be made for the fact that it’s possible to purchase cheaper alternatives now – Xiaomi is possibly its closest competitor price-wise, while a new name called iFFalcon is joining the game while being priced around $140 cheaper (depends on the offers) for similar specs. I’ve not tried those offerings, so it’s hard for me to compare them based on their performance.

There’s a good to fair chance that I’m oversimplifying people’s usage patterns – I see the TV as a massive Netflix tablet basically – but I don’t think I’m too far off base either. Bottom line: for someone who isn’t too fussy or who already has a primary TV, an affordable one like the Q65-QE PRO might just be the ticket.