Kudos: Soundbar audio a huge improvement; display is very bright; two-year warranty
Concerns: TV’s fan noise; occasional soundbar distortion at power up; backlight and black levels
As people continue expanding their entertaining outside of the home, outdoor entertainment systems are one of the fastest-growing segments in our channel. And with the increase of summer kitchens, screened-in porches, pool houses, etc., customers are no longer content with just having some audio outside; increasingly they expect to have some video available as well.
Where outdoor TVs used to be expensive and niche offerings often sacrificing performance or features to withstand the elements, there are increasing options available at budgets that won’t break the bank, including models from SunBrite, The Terrace from Samsung, Neptune from Peerless, SkyVue, and Seúra.
One name notably absent from that list is Furrion, a company I’d honestly never heard of prior to this past CEDIA. But when Furrion took home two Residential Systems’ Best of Show awards for its Aurora Sun 4K Outdoor Smart TV and 2.1-channel Outdoor Soundbar system, I was intrigued. Then, when I saw the retail pricing of these components — factors less than competing models — they quickly flew up my radar to something that I needed to bring in and check out for myself!
I’ve been in this industry for more than 28 years now, so it isn’t often that I come across a company I’m completely unfamiliar with. (Unless they are brand new, of course.)
According to Furrion’s website, the company’s founders met as engineers working on a mega yacht crew, “where they gained experience with the most advanced equipment in the world and honed their understanding of luxury service, travel, and technology for mobile living.”
Furrion’s PR spokesperson said the company has “been around for about 20 years with roots in the RV and marine industries and a major supplier of electronics and appliances such as televisions, audio systems, refrigerators, stoves/ovens, dishwashers, microwaves, rooftop air conditioners, etc. The company is entirely focused on manufacturing products for the outdoors and on-the-go lifestyle/environment.”
Related: Working With Furrion
Furrion entered the outdoor TV market five years ago and claims to be the number two selling brand in outdoor televisions. More recently the company expanded into soundbars, landscape speaker systems, and accessories such as outdoor TV mounts and covers.
In September 2021, Furrion was acquired by Lippert, who also has roots in RV (largest supplier into this industry), marine, and automotive, and is also focused on manufacturing products for the outdoor and on-the-go lifestyle/environment.
While the company does sell products direct to consumers and via Amazon, they also offer dealer pricing via their national distributor, O’Rourke Sales Company, or dealers can reach out to the company directly for more information at [email protected].
By the Numbers
To appreciate the value proposition that Furrion brings to the market, it is important to understand all the numbers.
First, while the company offers lower-priced full shade and partial sun models, the TV being reviewed is its sun model, which is a large distinction.
While most outdoor TVs feature the same IP5X weather rating, this only refers to their ability to handle dust and splashing water. (For the record, the Aurora is IP54 rated, meaning it is protected against water splashing from any direction.) However, as a sun model, it is able to handle far more extreme operating and storage temperatures. In fact, the unit is rated to operate in –24 to 122 Fahrenheit and be stored in temps ranging from –27 to 140F! (Even still, Furrion’s website cautions, “Aurora TV models should not be exposed to direct sunlight hits the LCD screen,” so take that into consideration.)
This 4K HDR Smart TV is capable of producing 1500 nits to deliver a bright image in the great outdoors, and also includes XtremeShield, an impact-resistant screen with anti-glare coating that is IK08-rated (impact rating of 5 joules; or a 3.75-pound object dropped from 12 inches) for protection against collisions and scratches.
All this – and more – at a $3000 MSRP.
For comparison, the full sun SunBrite Pro 2 Series, which is not a Smart TV, doesn’t have an internal speaker, and is only 1000 nits, retails for double the Furrion at $5999. Samsung doesn’t make a 55-inch full sun model, but its 65-inch The Terrace Full Sun model retails for $7500! Granted, these are “full sun” models meant for placement in direct sunlight, but still a major price difference.
Another huge difference? Both SunBrite and Samsung offer an anemic one-year warranty, whereas the Furrion comes with two. Not the three I’d love to see, but definitely a step in the right direction!
One of the key complaints I hear from outdoor TV installs is that the volume is difficult to hear. While reviewing the SunBrite Gen 3 Veranda, I wasn’t even able to hit 70 dB SPL at my seating position about 8 feet away while watching Netflix. So, even if you’re currently happy with your outdoor TV supplier, you should consider adding Furrion’s Aurora 2.1-channel soundbar to your mix. This outdoor-rated bar adds 130 watts total power and includes a wireless subwoofer to provide some actual impactful low-end at a $770 retail. Obviously, this bar is designed to work with the Furrion TV, but it features inputs and mounting that would make it usable with any display.
The soundbar arrived a few days before the TV, so I got a chance to play with it first.
The bar has some decent heft to it, and features a gloss-black top and a perf metal grille across the width of its front panel. There are rubberized feet on the bottom as well as on the sides, plus it comes with the hardware for wall-mounting. In the rear of the bar is a screw-down panel that conceals and protects the connections for power, HDMI, Toslink optical, and a mini-jack analog input. The bar features six drivers — four mids and two tweeters — along with two passive bass radiators, driven by a 70-watt amplifier.
The sub doesn’t look quite as luxe, and at just over 15 pounds, it feels a bit cheap and plasticky. However, since this will likely be sitting on the ground over in a corner, it probably isn’t a big deal. It features some adjustable feet for leveling, and only requires plugging into power. The sub’s cabinet houses an 8-inch driver that is powered by a 60-watt amplifier.
The bar and sub feature an IP45 rating, and are meant to operate in temps from –4 to 113 F. Once I plugged both units into power, they found each other and immediately synched up with no effort on my part.
The bar comes with a small remote that has sealed buttons that feel like it would do well outside. It actually wasn’t until about three weeks into using the bar that I noticed it has controls discreetly built-into the right side of it! Here are rubberized buttons for power, mode switching, play/pause, and volume up/down. This is a really smart touch, making the bar usable if the remote ever gets misplaced.
I connected the bar to my TV’s ARC output so the TV remote could control the volume, but beyond TV audio, the bar also features Bluetooth 5.0, making it easy to get music playing as well. Also important is that the bar only handles PCM audio, so you’ll need to make that output change in your TV.
The TV showed up a few days later, and you can tell this is no regular TV right from the get-go as this thing is a beast at almost 100 pounds in the box and nearly 87 pounds once unpacked.
As we are nearly into winter — and dipping into 20-degree temps at night where I live — I decided not to install it outside. (Plus, I was honestly a bit concerned it might crush the table I normally set TVs on!) The TV has a 400×400 VESA pattern and Furrion offers a variety of powder-coated, outdoor-rated mounts, but I used a Perlesmith universal tabletop stand for this. However, even though that stand was rated for 100 pounds, I was seriously concerned it might topple over or bend the metal.
There are a lot of nice design touches on this set that show Furrion understands the challenges of a TV surviving outside. First, the mounting holes come pre-fit with adapter bolts that also help to space the TV off the wall a bit for better airflow from the three rear-panel integrated fans. Second, instead of burying the Wi-Fi antenna inside the chassis, there are three external Wi-Fi antennas across the top rear of the TV, helping it to get the best signal. Also, the power cord and all inputs are protected in a weather-protected media bay that is still accessible after wall-mounting.
Included in the box are two different remote controls, a standard remote and a “Magic Remote” with WebOS voice control and pointer that will be familiar to anyone that has used a modern LG display. Unfortunately, neither of these remotes are weather-proof (though the LG Magic Remote is water resistant), and instead Furrion includes a silicone sleeve to go over the basic remote along with four “stickers” that can protect the battery compartment. Honestly, this felt cheesy, and it was a bit difficult to clearly read the buttons with the sleeve installed.
If the remote didn’t cue you into LG’s DNA in the display, during initial setup you’re prompted to install the Connect LG ThinQ app on your smart devices. Not surprising, the set-up process is identical to LG displays, and you can connect to the network via wired or Wi-Fi (2.4/5 GHz), and then download and install desired apps. Unlike the last LG smart device I tested (the CineBeam portable projector), I found this TV supported all of the major apps I was interested in.
Beyond streaming, there are numerous inputs for other sources, all protected behind a sealed, hinged door held down by three thumb screws. This includes three HDMI 2.0, composite video, and an RF antenna. On the audio front, the TV has connections for ARC (HDMI 2), Toslink optical, analog audio in, and a mini-jack analog output. There are also two USB connections, and the TV is Bluetooth 5.0.
Unlike the SunBrite, which only had a single button for controlling the TV without the remote, this set has seven buttons on the left side that give you decent control without the remote.
It’s a tad disappointing the TV doesn’t have a rear-panel IR control input, but beyond IR control, the TV offers integration with third-party control systems, letting you use a USB to RS232 adapter with PL2303 or IP control.
Drivers for Control4 and ELAN are available for download from Furrion’s website, and it also supports Savant and URC with Crestron coming. The driver integration process is exactly what you’d do for LG, including accessing the “secret” network menu with a key code and then entering a pairing code.
With the TV in my Control4 project I could add mini-apps for quick access to a number of popular streaming services.
While sound quality isn’t really consideration with an indoor TV, it certainly is with outdoor TVs, especially when you consider they are generally playing in a much larger area and competing with significantly more ambient noise. And with an outdoor TV, the importance is often a case of needing quantity over quality.
The TV has two internal speakers powered by dual 8-watt amplifiers, and I found they put out a decent level of audio, playing loud enough that it should be audible in a typical outdoor kitchen area. I did find it a little thin and tinny-sounding, edging toward being harsh as it got near its upper limits. For a small group of people watching — especially if they weren’t sitting too far away — the sound quality would be adequate.
Without question, adding the Aurora soundbar system massively improved the sound quality. Not only was the sound more forward with the bar’s drivers literally firing out into the listening area and playing with significantly more volume, the sub produced a far richer, fuller low-end.
While the bar is stereo, with left/right driver arrays, I never got much sense of channel separation — more a big band of audio. Even with heavily panned stereo mixes like “Jilltro” from Who Is Jill Scott?, there was never much distinction between left/right sounds.
The sub’s remote has bass and treble button you can use to finetune the sound, and I found I needed to back the bass down about 2 or 3 clicks to keep it from being too boomy.
Currently the bar doesn’t “wake up” and turn on with the TV, rather you have to use its remote (or side buttons) to turn it on. Then it goes to “sleep” after 15 minutes of non-use and will need to be powered back on. Also, it has a very bright white LED indicator that indicates the volume and source that is on constantly. At night, this was incredibly distracting. Furrion says that both of these issues will be resolved in a future release with products shipping in January. (Unfortunately, units in the field can’t be updated because it would compromise the weatherproof integrity.)
Generally, the bar performed without issue, but I did have multiple occasions where it would turn on and immediately have a ton of distortion. Usually this was resolved by a simple remote power toggle, but on one occasion it wouldn’t respond to the remote and I had to unplug it from the wall outlet.
Now, I understand that manufacturers sometimes stretch on their specifications a bit, but Furrion’s published frequency response ratings for the bar and sub are so incredible as to be laughable. Depending on where you look, the bar is either rated from 20 Hz or from 200 Hz – 18 kHz, while the 60-watt, 15.19 pound, 8-inch driver sub is rated down to 16 Hz! I happen to have an SVS SB16-Ultra sub that is a 20-inch cube weighing 122 pounds, with a 16-inch driver powered by a 5000-watt peak amplifier that is also rated down to 16 Hz, and, well, let’s just say one of these things is not like the other. Now, to be fair, Furrion didn’t say how many dB down it was at 16 Hz, so…
For giggles, I broke out my miniDSP UMIK and REW and took some measurements. The sub produces usable bass down to about 40 Hz, with the real roll-off starting around 60 Hz, while the soundbar starts to roll-off pretty heavily around 100 Hz. (To its credit, the bar does play out to 18 kHz!)
When we let Furrion fact check this review, they pointed out that the printed specs are incorrect, and that bar is actually rated for a far more accurate 80 Hz – 18 kHz, and the sub is rated from 40 Hz – 250. However, because the erroneous specs are printed on their website and spec sheets (which the company says will be resolved), and on the box the bar and sub ship in, I felt it necessary to point that out.
But don’t read too much into that; this is a $770 outdoor-rated soundbar + subwoofer, and for that it sounds pretty amazing, definitely improves the listening experience, and provides way more low-end than any TV audio output. One of the biggest complaints about outdoor TV is that people can’t hear it, and this will 100 percent solve that problem.
Tangentially related to sound is the noise of the TV’s three fans, which are loud and on 100 percent of the time. Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed them as much if the TV had been wall-mounted outside, but as it was sitting in my room on a stand, they were noticeable during quiet moments. It became one of those white noise things you weren’t constantly aware of until it was quiet and when you turned the TV off, in their absence, you noticed how loud they were. I understand the need for fans on an outdoor TV, but Furrion should really put these on a thermostat with variable speed, so they only kick on high when required instead of being on constantly.
Furrion claims this set is “up to 8x brighter than an indoor TV,” which seems dubious as nearly every modern HDR capable LED TV delivers 1000 nits (or more), but maybe brightness is logarithmic…?
I can say that it is indeed a light cannon, and it has tons of output that should do well competing with nearly any lighting environment. The peak brightness was definitely enough to be eye reactive, especially when watching at night.
The TV has the typical LG picture modes, including Vivid, Standard, Cinema, and Game. Vivid was virtually unusable, being very cool/blue, and I did nearly all of my watching in Cinema, though Standard might be better for outdoor day viewing. I wish that the Furrion would have incorporated modes that made more sense for an outdoor display, such as the SunBrite’s “Outdoor Day” and “Outdoor Night” modes, which are far more intuitive for an end-user, especially if programmed into an automation system.
Beyond streamed content, I also connected my Dish Joey receiver, a 4K Blu-ray, and a retro Atari 2600 gaming console. While not as “fast” as modern consoles, I definitely found that the TV’s Game mode greatly lowered latency when playing the Atari.
Generally black levels aren’t as important with outdoor displays where you are competing against much higher levels of ambient lighting — and where the content is usually brighter like sports — but I found that the Furrion definitely struggled at the low-end. Also, this is a fully backlit panel, as opposed to edge lighting or local zone dimming, meaning that black levels are greatly elevated, even when showing an all-black screen. And there is frequently banding or light streaking when the screen is filled with lots of the same color, such as the blue in the Disney+ start-up screen. Again, this isn’t as noticeable during the day, but definitely was at night.
Picture quality is best head-on or looking slightly up, as there are noticeable light and color shift issues when you get even a little off-axis, getting more extreme the further left/right you go. I also found that the black levels had a bluish or greenish cast depending on where I was sitting.
I didn’t have any qualms with the display’s ability to render a sharp and detailed image. Whether watching the video montage on the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark 4K Blu-ray or streamed 4K HDR content, there was plenty of detail.
The set also has LG’s different TruMotion settings, allowing you to change the amount of judder and blur reduction, with a user option that lets you finetune the motion setting to taste. Much of the content I streamed was 4K/60, so I never noticed any issues with motion handling.
Picture quality-wise, this looks like a Gen 1 LED panel, except with a lot of brightness.
With these two Aurora products, Furrion definitely brings a ton of value to the table, and I can definitely recommend adding the soundbar system to your inventory of outdoor installs. The TV is a little tougher to recommend. If the customer prefers high-brightness over absolute picture quality, then this is a real contender, however, if they are sticklers about video quality – and watch a lot of dark content or at night — then this might not be the best display for the job.
Product Specs — TV:
- 3840×2160 resolution, 60Hz refresh, 4000:1 rated contrast
- Anti-glare, 1500-nit LED screen
- Smart TV powered by webOS
- 11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with three external antennas
- IP54 weather rating
- XtremeShield IK-08-rated tempered glass screen for impact and scratch resistance
- Third party control drivers for Control4, Elan, Savant, and URC (Crestron coming soon)
- Inputs: 3 HDMI 2.0 (1 with ARC), 2 USB 5V/1A, RCA analog audio/video, RJ45; RF; Outputs: Toslink optical audio, mini-jack analog audio
- TV Dimensions: 49 7/16 x 29 7/16 x 4 5/16-inches (WxHxD); 86.9 pounds
Product Specs — Soundbar
- Six speaker system with dual bass radiators
- Wireless 8-inch subwoofer
- 130-watts total power (70 bar, 60 sub)
- IP45 weatherproof rating
- Inputs: 1 HDMI ARC, Toslink optical audio, mini-jack analog audio
- Soundbar Dimensions: 39 3/8 x 3 11/16 x 3 13/16-inches (WxHxD); 8.4 pounds
- Sub Dimensions: 11 7/16 x 12 3/8 x 11 1/2-inches (WxHxD); 15.19 pounds