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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Finlux 42S9100-T review: a budget 3D, HD, and internet TV

Both the name and the Scandinavian marketing suggest northern European design. But Finlux has its home closer to the near East – Turkey, in fact. Finlux may have passed through the hands of Finnish brand Nokia last century but now Vestel, south of Istanbul, controls this direct-sell brand. Take a look at Group test: what's the best TV?

You won't find Finlux in the shops, only sold online. It's a budget-oriented brand, with prices starting at £120 for a 22in set, up to £900 for its best 55in TV with the current 3D bells and PVR whistles. See all TV reviews.

We tested the 42S9100-T, Finlux's top 42in with Freeview HD tuner, DIY PVR function and 3D upscaling and viewing.

It's a reasonably sleek-looking design with narrow bezel, if too much chrome edging and in the X-shape stand to be taken too seriously

In terms of ins and outs, it has four HDMI, two SCART, two USB 2.0, and stereo analogue plus Toslink optical audio outputs. Analogue video is additionally covered by a trio of phono sockets for Component, and a D-Sub for VGA.

The screen itself appears to be PVA technology, offering wide viewing angles but with a strong semi-gloss sheen that is more reflective than we would prefer. When you're sitting in a semi-darkened room and can clearly see your own reflection in the TV, that really does count as too glossy.

Static image quality is reasonable, skin tones rendered suitably naturally, and with fine detail – especially from the UK's four terrestrial HD channels.

Brightness is high, too high by default but easily toned down. Contrast is poor though, and can't be mended through button fiddling. If your taste is for dark and moody films, you won't make out much detail in the shadows, just big bad blocks of black.

Sharpness is set high – good for seeing layers of make-up on news anchors' faces but simply distracting by the amount of ringing it can add to image edges. It also means, when used as a PC monitor, that text and OS features are artificially edged and too distorted for clear viewing.

Moving images are perhaps the biggest disappointment, and here the 100Hz processing is not enough to remove jarring motion distortions. You don't need to be a sports fan to notice the minute but disturbing judders that appear as images pan left-to-right on screen. Ancillary to this is the low-level motion jitter than can gave some films we viewed all the fluidity of a south American soap opera.

We tried the 3D upscale function, which could give an uncanny sense of depth to even broadcast SD TV. No less than eight pairs of Polaroid-type passive specs are included in the box, so an extended family can try this out simultaneously without any more expenditure.

Sound quality is par for the course, entirely lacking any depth of bass and with a quacky midrange and sibilant top. But it was quite usable for hearing dialogue in a large lounge.

Control is through a long and comprehensive remote handset, neatly laid out and with all the core functions to hand. There's also a simplified basic little remote handset included – a neat idea for simply channel zapping and throttling the volume.

The on-screen menus – themed in black and burnished mock-gold yellow – are bright and clear and we had no difficult navigating through the setup and EPG menus. The Freeview tuner was underpowered though, taking up to a long 3. Seconds. For. Every. Channel. Change.

Used as a ‘smart' TV, we again felt the sluggishness. BBC iPlayer took an age – well, around 20 secs – just to launch, from the on-screen grid of various internet-enabled services. Once there, we found BBC HD wasn't even an available option either.

Besides the Beeb's, there's little in the way of known-name services here. No other UK TV catch-up services are offered such as ITV or Channel 4; and no Netflix, but you do get tiresome links to Facebook and Twitter. For news you can turn to CNN Turk and ITN.

DLNA compatibility means you can stream certain video and music from another device on your local network. Audio support is weak; we couln't play any FLAC or ALAC material, nor any video of various codec flavours that we tried from a Synology NAS drive. The PVR function can be useful though – we plugged in a FAT-formatted 32GB thumbdrive and were able to instantly pause and record live TV.

View the original article here

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