When it comes to value TVs, Insignia, TCL and Hisense are pushing the boundaries; but we’ve seen Amazon leap into this category as well. It’s a competition, and that leads to remarkable breakthroughs – and that’s a good thing, lower prices for the customer. For this review, we’re looking at the Insignia NS-42F201NA23, a 42-inch Fire TV. At just under $200, it sits right on the affordable end, and with a 1080p FHD screen, it screams value.
It’s part of Insignia’s F20 Series line of panels built on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, so it features Alexa voice controls and the familiar Fire TV interface. Since it’s powered by FireOS, it means it has the brains of Fire Stick on the inside, which gives you access to over 1,000 apps, like streaming services, out of the box.
But when all things are put together, how does it perform? Well, let’s take a deep dive into things like viewing angles, color reproduction, sound quality, and more to see if this budget Fire TV is worth a spot in your living room.
About the Insignia NS-42F201NA23
For several years now, Insignia has been reiterating different forms of the F20 Series, and we’ve had a chance to sample and review them – often more than one, you can find one or a few units of the series on sale at any given time.
While you get to save some money buying models from a few years ago, the sheer number of models in the same series can be confusing. Let’s break down how to identify which model you’re getting. It’s pretty simple: the last numbers of the SKU or model name, denote the year after the year the TV was manufactured.
So, for instance, in our review unit, the Insignia NS-32F201NA22, you can easily tell, it is a 32-inch F20 series model manufactured in 2021. In the same series for 2021, there are different models, all available in a range of sizes.
Outside of resolution and screen size, however, the core specs are the same:
• Resolutions: 1080p 1920 x 1080 pixels
• LED backlight type: Direct Lit
• LCD panel type: VA
• HDR support: No
• Dolby Atmos support: Yes, via HDMI ARC over DD+ (no native decoding)
• eARC support: No
• Native refresh rate: 60Hz
• Color depth: 8-bit
• Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) support: No
• Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) support: No
• Other features: Alexa Voice Remote included
For the affordable price, the Insignia NS-42F201NA23 fails to include some fancy features you’d find on top-tier TVs. The only standout feature is the Fire TV smart platform, which is a built-in version of Amazon’s Fire TV streaming device.
Design and Features
Not a lot has gone into Insignia Fire TV’s design. It’s just a simple, inexpensive TV. It sports a dark plastic case that doesn’t breathe any air of prestige or luxury as pricier TVs do. And unlike many newer (and more expensive) TVs, it maintains a fairly thick half-inch bezel around the edge. But for a budget TV, it isn’t an eyesore, either. The screen stands on a pair of V-shaped feet that face inward holding it up very stably.
Some input ports are recessed at the back-left including, three HDMI inputs, a USB port, and an optical audio output facing the left edge. There is also an Ethernet port, antenna/cable connector, and an RCA composite video input facing downward, in the same location. On the lower right corner of the back of the TV, there is a power/input combo and other buttons for physical controls.
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.
Picture Quality and Performance
For an entry-level, budget HDTV, the Insignia NS-42F201NA23 performs well, but it doesn’t break any records, and we’ve seen better image quality at this price range. The 42-inch model we’re reviewing doesn’t support high dynamic range (HDR), and neither is it available in the smaller 24” and 32” of the same model.
With that, it does not offer a particularly wide color gamut and doesn’t exceed broadcast standards with reds appearing undersaturated. As for the colors, they are balanced and not tinted, though, and fairly vivid for a 1080p panel with a 60Hz refresh rate.
For what you’re paying, image quality and color reproduction on this Insignia could look a lot worse. However, going by the standards of LED/LCDs, its performance is good, providing enough brightness for an average room, respectable blacks, and decent enough color production.
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In simpler terms, content looks good on the NS-42F201NA23, especially content that you’re primarily streaming from, let’s say, Netflix or Disney+. The F20 uses a VA-style LCD panel with a full-array LED backlight, but it doesn’t have local dimming, which is available in high-end models such as the Toshiba M550 Fire TV we reviewed recently.
Even with the limited color range on the Insignia Fire TV Edition, BBC’s Life Story looks vivid and very detailed. You can easily pick fine details like fur and leaves at very sharp detail, with colors looking natural and balanced only that they aren’t as nearly vivid as they are on the TCL 6-Series Roku Smart TV.
The only caveat is, that TCL’s Series 6 only has two models: 55-inch and 65-inch. Thus, if you’re looking for a small home TV that doesn’t cost a fortune, the 42-inch Hisense 43A6H and Insignia NS-42F201NA23 are among the best choices you can find right now.
Fire TV OS & Alexa
For you to get the most out of Fire TV features, you’ll need to sign in with your Amazon account, which is very typical of Fire TV streamers, which are built around using your account for transactions like purchasing apps and renting media. However, on the Insignia Fire TV Edition, you don’t 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 of 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 hands-free as the Echo or Echo Spot, but it’s still functional out of the box with the press of a button.
Should you buy the Insignia F20 Fire TV?
Yes, you’re getting Full HD picture and Amazon Fire TV for pennies.
With the NS-42F201NA23, Insignia did a lot right with this TV. For a price less than a typical monthly electric bill, you’re getting a dependable 42-inch TV that offers much value outside the picture quality department. A resolution of 1080p is better than the 720p available on most TVs at this price point and will suffice for most users, but Fire TV with thousands of streaming services, Alexa built-in, and Dolby Audio gives this TV an edge.
That said, the Insignia NS-42F201NA23, isn’t perfect, picture quality and color reproduction is low-end, but it’s probably as close as you’ll get to perfection at this price point. This is the UHD TV to own in the 42-inch class if you’re deep in the Amazon ecosystem and want to have Fire TV as your smart TV platform.
For all its worth, the Insignia F20 looks nice, has excellent viewing angles, and even decent sound from the onboard stereo speakers. So, if you’re looking for a standard-size, inexpensive FHD TV, the Insignia NS-42F201NA23 is solid for the money, and it certainly looks and feels nicer than I’d expected.
The Insignia NS-42F201NA23 is an affordable 42-inch that delivers a surprisingly rich viewing experience for a value TV set, with great pictures, decent audio, and Amazon’s Fire TV built right in.
- Rock-bottom price
- Remote control with built-in Amazon Alexa
- Decent sound quality
- Lackluster color production
- Inconsistent black levels
Last update on 2024-02-28 at 12:09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API