Alexa voice compatible
Good build quality
Lackluster color production
Inconsistent black levels
Updated August 4, 2022: This post has been updated to reflect the latest information.
The F20 series generally delivers decent overall picture quality, but with some small discrepancies that we didn’t see from the competition in our tests. On the other hand, the TV’s build quality and Fire TV experience are quite robust. If you prefer Amazon’s Fire TV platform over Roku TV, you may not mind these concessions in picture quality. But if you want the best picture quality in this price range, alongside one of our favorite smart platforms, you should really check out the TCL 3-Series instead.
About the Insignia F20 Fire TV (2021)
Insignia has released or reiterated some form of the F20 series for the last several years, and often more than one “run” of the series can be found on sale at any given time. This can make shopping confusing.
While you might be able to save money buying the models from a few years ago, you should at least be doing so purposefully. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to use the model name to determine which F20 series you’re getting. The last two numbers of the SKU, or model name, designate the year after the year the TV was manufactured. So if you see “32F201NA19,” you can determine that it’s a 32-inch F20 series model manufactured in 2018.
We bought and reviewed the 32-inch, 720p F20. Here’s the full range of sizes for the 2021 F20 series:
- 24-inch F20 series (1080p) (Insignia NS-24F202NA22), MSRP $189.99 (online for $139.99)
- 32-inch F20 series (720p) (Insignia NS-32F201NA22), MSRP $179.99 (online for $139.99)
- 32-inch F20 series (1080p) (Insignia NS-32F202NA22), MSRP $199.99 (online for $179.99)
- 42-inch F20 series (1080p) (Insignia NS-42F201NA22), MSRP $269.99 (online for $229.99)
If you’re wondering why the 24-inch F20 costs more than the larger 32-inch F20, it’s because the F20 series comes in multiple screen resolutions: There are 24-, 32-, and 42-inch F20 models with 1080p resolution, and also a 32-inch model that has 720p resolution.
Outside of resolution, however, the essential specs are the same:
- Resolutions: 720p 1,366 x 768 pixels (NS-32F201NA22) / 1080p 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (NS-24F202NA22, NS-32F202NA22, NS-42F201NA22)
- 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
This Insignia TV is nothing if not affordable, but it leaves most of the fancy features you’ll get with higher-end TVs on the cutting room floor. The standout feature is the Fire TV smart platform, which acts as a built-in version of Amazon’s Fire TV streaming device.
Before testing, we allow each TV to run for 12-24 hours (depending upon panel type) to ensure factory calibration has settled properly. To test the Insignia NS-32F201NA22, we measured its contrast and color performance using a Calibrite ColorChecker Display device with DisplayCal 3 software.
For the results below, we measured the 2021 F20 series in its “Movie” picture mode. The color and contrast levels noted below will be different in other picture modes and backlight settings. Because this TV doesn’t support HDR, we’re only reporting SDR results:
- Contrast (reference brightness/average black level): 130.94 / 0.055 nits
- Color accuracy (sRGB coverage/volume): 83.5% coverage, 83.9% volume
- Average color temperature (CCT): 7476K
Insignia’s F20 series nets you the following connectivity options, cleanly labeled in two separate cable coves on the rear of the TV:
- 3 x HDMI 2.0 inputs (1 HDMI ARC)
- USB port
- RF (coaxial) input
- LAN (ethernet) input
- Headphone/analog audio jack
- Digital optical audio out
- Composite (AV) input
The F20 brings plenty of connectivity options considering its price point, and you’re getting a standard HDMI ARC connection here too. That’s great news if you already have or are planning on getting a soundbar. It’s worth noting that you aren’t getting HDMI 2.1 inputs, which may be important for gamers with the latest game consoles, but the TV doesn’t have any of the features these ports would support such as VRR or high-bandwidth frame rates anyway, so it’s essentially a moot point.
The F20 does offer full (non-split) legacy input for composite (AV) devices, along with usual standards like a headphone jack, and digital optical audio out for older soundbars and sound systems.
What we like
Sturdy and clean
I won’t lie: I went into this review with some biases. Insignia, which got its start years ago as one of Best Buy’s in-house brands, hasn’t always manufactured the sturdiest TVs. But the 32-inch F20 is, at least from a design perspective, right in line with the similarly-priced TCL 3-Series.
Assembly is easy enough: Screw two wide-set, V-shaped feet to the bottom of the panel and you’re done. The 24- and 32-inch models are easy to pick up and put together yourself, but you should still rest them face-down on something cushioned or soft while you’re attaching the feet.
The F20’s panel and the bezels around the screen are far from the thinnest I’ve seen, but it feels like a well-built, modern TV and wobbles minimally in tabletop position.You can also wall-mount it if you’re so inclined, it’s VESA 100x100 standard. I’m especially surprised at the quality of the plastics used in the F20’s chassis: This TV looks and feels nice, and frankly, I was expecting it to feel cheaper.
The included remote is also quite fetching, featuring clean white lettering and a short, smooth layout. There’s a decent array of buttons, including a dedicated microphone button (for Alexa voice control), volume/channel rockers, and hotkeys for Prime Video (of course), Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.
All together, Insignia hasn’t cut corners on design, which is nice to see considering how affordable this TV is.
Good contrast and stable picture quality for the money
For what you’re paying, this Insignia could look a lot worse. As LED/LCD TVs go, it’s pretty standard (like almost everything in this price range), providing enough brightness for the average room, respectable black levels, and decent enough color.
The short story is that content looks good, especially content you’re primarily streaming, such as from Netflix or Disney+. The F20 uses a VA-style LCD panel with a full-array LED backlight (no dimming, though).
It’s a bit brighter than the comparably priced TCL 3-Series, but also doesn’t get quite as dark on the shadowy side of things. Without any backlight dimming, shadow quality can sometimes get a bit bright, but it’s only something you’d probably notice in a totally dark viewing environment.
The F20’s grayscale tones are on the blue side, even in the “Movie” picture mode, which is one method many TVs use to eke out extra brightness. This excess blue light and the TV’s 720p resolution are minimal concerns while watching movies and TV shows.
I watched a range of content, from high-quality nature footage on YouTube to movies and shows on Netflix and Hulu, and didn’t have many complaints. My San Diego apartment is quite sunny (which is why my main TV is the super-bright Samsung QN90A), and at its brightest the F20 is not quite bright enough to watch without concerns over glare and reflectivity. But in a more normally lit room, it’s just fine.
The F20 isn’t HDR compatible, so it doesn’t need to get much brighter than it does, but where it definitively falls short is in basic color production. This isn’t a massive concern in this price range, just a bit disappointing.
Great software for friends of Alexa
When it comes to 32-inch TVs that cost less than $200, you’re not likely to see massive discrepancies in picture quality between one TV and the next. But when it comes to durability or user experience, it can be harder to shop with confidence.
Entry-level TVs like this one have started to dodge this reputation by way of some intentional and clever branding: Whether you call them a Roku TV or a Fire TV, it brings in a well known and well-regarded streaming platform, providing a buffer between your wallet and a potentially unfamiliar brands like Insignia or Toshiba. But the platform in question really needs to feel and operate like the device of its namesake—in this case, Amazon’s Fire TV streaming stick.
Fortunately, the latest F20 does a pretty good job of capturing that experience. Initial boot/setup is pretty slow: You’ll be prompted immediately to sign into your Amazon account (or make one if you don’t have one already) and select your “experience.”
The ability to choose between the “Full” Fire TV experience or the “Basic” option was totally new to me, but I can see the advantage. Especially if you’re buying or setting up the TV for a young child or a tech-averse elder, the Basic option simplifies the experience and limits app availability to a much smaller range of options: Live TV, Netflix, HBO Max, Sling TV, Prime Video, and Hulu.
I went with the Full experience, and was treated to many minutes of waiting while the TV downloaded updates, rebooted, checked for updates again, etc. I’ve read user reviews complaining specifically about the boot time on this particular TV, and I can see why. My home Wi-Fi is plenty fast (500Gbps) and it still took several minutes for the TV to get ready for prime-time.
Once setup is done, though, the experience is pretty smooth. It takes no time to pull up services like YouTube and Netflix. The remote’s navigation circle is satisfyingly clicky and jumps around the Fire TV options with reliable speed. Even typing using an on-screen keyboard—while perhaps still universally the worst way to type in usernames and passwords—wasn’t bad thanks to the TV’s responsiveness.
Your mileage will most certainly vary with this TV depending on how deeply into the Amazon Alexa ecosystem you are. If you’re an Alexa veteran and you already interface with an array of Alexa-compatible smart devices, you’ll be right at home pushing the button on the remote and talking to Alexa. If that doesn’t sound like you (and you want something simpler/less involved), you might be better off with a Roku TV.
I also have to compliment the 32-inch/720p F20’s use of properly scaled menus. The TV’s resolution (720p) is not uncommon in this screen size, but it’s also not uncommon for smart TV interfaces to end up looking pixelated at this resolution (something we’ve seen on the TCL 3-Series). The Fire TV interface is perfectly scaled, and everything from apps to default Amazon screensavers looks fairly crisp.
Our one caution is that a lot of reader reviews report pretty big discrepancies in how smoothly or quickly the smart interface works. I haven’t had any major problems with loading times or content crashing. Just know that, as with most smart TVs, keeping the software updated and being aware of how much internal storage you’re using is vital in ensuring your experience doesn’t hit any huge snags.
What we don’t like
Lackluster color production
The F20 TVs aren’t the most colorful you can buy. Our testing process measures multiple aspects of color, but what we (and most reviewers) are chiefly concerned with is color saturation: how red are the reds, etc.
In the case of a similarly priced and spec’d TV like the TCL 3-Series, we measured 96% color volume, meaning the TV produces almost 100% of the “standard” color space (often called sRGB in monitors and Rec.709 in TVs). By comparison, the F20 is closer to 85% sRGB color volume.
Will you notice this during viewing? I did, but I’ve also been reviewing TVs for 10 years. It’s less noticeable in elements like brightly colored parrots or big blue skies, but evident with content that is only semi-colorful, like stretches of desert landscape or brown-green fields of grass. There are moments where colors don’t really “pop” the way they should.
Is this a deal-breaker? For most folks, probably not, but it’s worth being aware of. You can get better color production from the TCL 3-Series.
Behind the times for gaming
With its lower resolution (720p/1080p), 60Hz native refresh rate, and HDMI 2.0 inputs, the F20 series is not the best choice for current-gen gaming, which really needs higher brightness, better color, and 4K resolution to show off why newer game consoles are so pricy.
If you’re still using an original Xbox One or PS4, or even something older, you shouldn’t have many complaints, but if you’re gaming on a newer system you’ll likely want to move up a few levels with one of the best TVs for gaming (and adjust your budget accordingly).
Inconsistent black levels
The F20 series is a bit brighter (and blue-er) than some competitors, but this emphasis on blue within the overall RGB balance makes for black levels that are inconsistent depending upon the brightness of the scene.
When small pockets of the screen are meant to be black or shadowy, they can sometimes have a slightly blue cast, which makes them appear to “float” and obscure images. This doesn’t happen too often, but it’s something that movie lovers should be aware of. You won’t see this in the garage or kitchen, but you might see it during late-night bedroom viewing.
Should you buy the Insignia F20 Fire TV?
Only if you love Amazon Fire TV
Insignia did a lot right with this TV. The build quality is solid for the money, and it certainly looks and feels nicer than I was expecting. While I’m not the most tuned into the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, I love the clean, unpixelated look and voice-command-ready functionality of the Fire TV software you get with this TV.
If this is your size/price range, though, you should think about your viewing environment and overall priorities before you buy. If you’re mainly interested in the Fire TV experience and Alexa compatibility, the F20 series won’t let you down. Getting the full Alexa voice command experience baked right into the remote is really cool, especially in this price range. You can find Alexa functionality on competing TVs, but they usually require a separate smart speaker to work properly.
However, if you’re trying to get the best picture quality you can for the money, and especially if you like to watch in dim, movie night style environments, you should consider buying the TCL 3-Series instead. Its out-of-the-box picture composition is better, and it delivers quite a bit more color saturation. Plus, it’s got Roku TV, which is among the best smart platforms (if not the best) on the market.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Editor, Home Theater@Koanshark
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
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