Uppleva, IKEA's magical TV-cum-entertainment centre meatball, won't be arriving in Australia until next year. Fortunately, we've got an early review from friends in Sweden. The bad news: the Uppleva is not great.
We had high hopes for the all-in-one Uppleva. After all, if there's a company that can produce a single unit with a TV, Blu-ray player and 2.1 sound system all wrapped into one piece of furniture, it's IKEA, right? IKEA has managed to build structures the size of aircraft carriers filled with delicious food, childrens' ball pits and cheap-chic furniture across the world. Why not build decent TVs? O, what folly.
The Uppleva is fine as furniture — an LCD TV with typically minimalist drawers and a stand — but it's a piece of junk for everything else, according to the Swedish tech gurus at M3. They cite the actual construction of the Uppleva as "smooth", relatively simple to screw together, and they were charmed by the trim options that let you match the decor in your living room, but the actual electronics part of the TV — not unimportant! — is as appealing as a wad of lingonberry jam left out in the sun. The TV's picture quality is crap: poor black levels, muddy colours and a noisy image. This is not what you want with a $US1000 TV system. The "smart" aspects of the Uppleva are brain dead too, with a slow, awful interface and broken features. Button presses sometimes wouldn't even register. M3 notes that a software update could fix some of this, but why bother? This is a wreck that's on par with crawling across your bedroom floor to hunt down that last tiny screw you need to complete your bed frame.
M3 editor Andreas Ivarsson puts it like this:
This is a really funny concept. An affordable solution for a complete home cinema system where everything is included. You get a TV that can handle internet services (though poorly) and is equipped with a media player.
The picture quality is quite mediocre and the sound system very good. The furniture looks stylish and fits well into our Swedish Ikea homes. With some nice interior this piece can be something you don't have to be ashamed of in your living room. The only thing you have to be ashamed of is if your friends will try the TV's more advanced functions. But as long as they wanna plug in a USB stick with music or watch ordinary TV it is OK. It is a big difference in how we experience the furniture and sound system compared to the TV. The TV is not affordable and to be honest really bad when you can get a better 42-inch for the same amount. I think that the whole concept will be better with another TV, but the nice integration with the sound system in the furniture really appeals to us.
Overall, Ivarrson gives the whole kit and kaböödle a "5 out of 10", which is pretty awful in any language.
And there you have it — the IKEA Uppleva, a $US1000 home theatre system that is appealing mostly for the cheap wood it's packaged in. You can get a damn decent set, a media receiver and some OK speakers for that money. And if you really want the Swedish modernity bliss experience, put the thing on a $10 IKEA coffee table, spend another $5 on meatballs, then lie on your EKTORP sofa and call it a day.
Head to M3 for its full (Swedish) coverage of the IKEA Uppleva. [M3]