Bush (C46Z18DVBIPTVT2) 46 Inch LED LCD Smart TV Review
Does this 46 inch LED LCD TV from Bush offer value or is it a false economy?
TV reviewSRP: £600.00
IntroductionOn paper the Bush C46Z18DVBIPTVT2 seems to offer great value, with LED edge lighting and a 46" screen size for the princely sum of a penny under £600. On closer inspection you realise that sacrifices have to be made to reach this price point and the features list is shorter than the TV's ungainly model number. There's no 3D of course and the smart TV platform is decidedly backward. There also no built-in WiFi but the Bush does at least come with a dongle to allow for wireless connection. Aside from that, the only other feature of note is the ability to connect a USB drive to either access content or use the time shift facility in the EPG. That's a fairly basic set of features even at this end of the market and given that there is competition from the likes of LG and Samsung, the Bush will need to offer a decent picture to deflect the Koreans' charms.
Design and ConnectionsThe design of the Bush is so similar to last year's Samsung models that we have no doubt the Koreans would put their lawyers on the case, were they not already occupied suing Apple and LG. The silver styling, slim bezel and quad foot are an almost exact copy and the main clue that this isn't a Samsung - aside from the name Bush on the front - is the inferior build quality. The entire chassis has a very cheap construction, with even the rear panel made of black plastic. The surrounding bezel is also made of silver plastic and measures 2cm wide.
Assembling the stand was simple enough, once you had worked out which screws went where, but there was the same sense of inferior construction found on the main chassis. Overall the TV lacked the well-engineered feel found with the bigger brands, resulting in an uninspired design, coupled with a healthy dose of plagiarism, and all constructed for the minimum cost. On the positive side of things, the Bush at least swivels on its stand and the hardwired power cable is a reasonable 2m in length.
The uninspired design and general lack of inspiration extends to the remote control which is a plain black plastic affair. The ergonomic design isn't quite as bad as some of the other Vestel produced remotes we have seen recently but it is still relatively poor. There is a central wheel for navigation and entry but otherwise the buttons are all small and symmetrically laid out. All the main controls are there, it's just that they aren't intuitively laid out which makes it hard to use the remote, especially in a darkened room.
The are at least a reasonable set of connections at the rear, with 3 HDMI inputs, a VGA input, two USB ports (one for the supplied WiFi dongle) and a LAN socket. There are also inputs for legacy connectors such as Scart, component and composite with the necessary break-out cables provided. Finally there is a CI (Common Interface) slot, an aerial socket, a headphone jack and some audio connections including a SPDIF digital out. Our only complaint in this area is that the sideways facing HDMI inputs are only 11cm from the edge, which is too close in our opinion.
MenusWhilst the menu system couldn't be described as slick or cutting edge, it is at least clear and easy to follow, if rather monochromatic. The menu itself consists of seven options - Picture, Sound, Time, Lock, Option, PC Setting and Network Settings. Basic setup was straightforward, although it took a long time for the Freeview HD tuner to actually scan through all the frequencies. Once completed, the resulting EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) is as monochromatic and simplistic as the rest of the menus; it will get the job done but it lacks the slick interface we have come to expect from EPGs these days. If you press the Source button on the remote control, a list of input devices appears on the screen, allowing you to select the one you want, although the can also be accessed directly using dedicated buttons on the remote.
Moving onto the menu system itself, the Sound option allows you to access some basic EQ controls, the Balance control, Auto Volume, SRS TruSurround HD, AD Switch, AD Volume and select whether to output PCM or bitstream via the SPDIF digital output. The next menu option is Time and as the name suggests it allows you to set the Time Zone, Timer and Auto Standby features. Then we have the Lock option which allows parents set passwords and block channels. TheOption sub-menu includes controls for Audio Language, Subtitle Language, Country, Hearing Impaired, Signal Information, CI Information and HDMI CEC. There are also sub-menus for PC Setting when the TV is being used as a monitor and Network Settings for setup of either a wired connection with an Ethernet cable or wireless with the provided WiFi dongle.
Finally there is the Picture menu where we would expect to find the usual selection of picture controls, so imagine our surprise when all we discovered were Picture Mode, Colour Temperature, Aspect Ratio, Noise Reduction and Advanced Settings. Where were the usual Brightness, Contrast, Colour and Sharpness controls? Well as it turned out, they resided in theAdvanced Settings menu, which is the first time we've ever seen these controls listed as advanced features. Also in the so-called Advanced Settings, was a Tint control and controls for adjusting Red, Green and Blue.
Audio and FeaturesWe will give credit where credit is due and whilst much about this Bush TV disappointed, the audio was surprisingly good. In fact we would go as far as to say that the audio was the only good aspect of this TV. We have become so used to poor audio on today's ultra-slim TVs that when a display actually manages to acquit itself in this area we are genuinely surprised. Our surprise was even greater with the Bush due to its poor showing in other areas. However, perhaps due to the slightly deeper chassis, the screen size and the speaker positioning, the Bush was able to produce clear and well defined audio. Obviously the built-in speakers are no match for a dedicated audio system but dialogue was clear and there was a reasonable degree of stereo separation. The bass response was also reasonable, considering the limitations of the speakers themselves and we found that engaging the SRS TruSurround feature did give the sound a more immersive presence without losing too much focus.
Whilst the Bush claims to be a 'Smart TV', compared to the all-singing, all-dancing platforms on offer from the likes of Samsung, LG and Panasonic, the Bush system is positively backward. It is the kind of platform that would have graced a cutting edge TV three years ago but these days you can get better functionality on a Blu-ray player. Our first challenge was actually getting into the smart platform, which was ultimately achieved by pressing a small button with a house icon on it; we did say the remote control wasn't very intuitive. Once in you have a choice of five apps - the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Picasa - and that's it!
The Bush also includes some basic media playback capabilities and if you attach a USB drive you can watch videos, look at pictures and listen to music. The file compatibility is fairly basic but it includes the usual AVI, MP3 and JPEG support. Along with the media player, there is the ability to hook up a USB storage device to enable the use of PVR (Personal Video Recorder) facilities; meaning pause, rewind and record capabilities from the inbuilt tuner. The Bush is also DLNA compliant, so you can connect it to your home network (wired or wireless) but the file support is equally as limited.
Test ResultsThe Bush has no preset Movie Picture Mode and we found that the most accurate choice was the User mode, which also conveniently gave us access to the picture controls. We selected a Colour Temperature of Warm, which gave us the nearest measurement to the industry standard of D65. We also chose the Aspect Ratio setting Just Scan, which ensures exact pixel mapping for high definition content and we turned the Noise Reduction feature off. In the Advanced Settings we were able to set the Brightness and Contrast settings to suit our viewing environment. We also set the Sharpness control to 50, which is the point at which the image is neither being sharpened or softened, and left the Colour and Tint controls at 50.
Whilst these settings offered a greater degree of accuracy when compared to default settings but the measurements are still a long way from our targets. There is still too much blue and green and not enough red in the greyscale and the gamma curve is still too low in the mid part of the range. As a result there is still a blue tinge to white, although it is at least nearer D65 and the image is still washed out by the lower gamma curve. Things have improved in the colour gamut as well, although the colour coordinates are still a long way from Rec.709. However the secondary colours are now closer to their targets, although magenta is skewed towards red, resulting in a sunburnt look flesh tones. Whilst red itself is rather under-saturated, the DeltaEs (errors) in both red and blue are greatly reduced, although the luminance is still too high for green and the secondary colours. These errors are certainly easy to spot, especially an obvious green cast when watching normal content.
The Bush has no real calibration controls and we were unable to improve the colour accuracy using either the Colour or Tint controls. It was possible to improve the accuracy of white using the red, green and blue controls but only at the expense of greater inaccuracy in the primary colours and especially the secondary colours. Ultimately the best performance we could get is shown in the graphs above and frankly this is a rather poor showing for a modern TV.
Whilst there is no dedicated Backlight control on the Bush, the Contrast control appeared to serve a double purpose, and the TV had no problems in hitting our target of 120cd/m2. In terms of the panel's black levels, they were good for a LCD, and measured 0.05cd/m2, which equates to an on/off contrast ratio of 2,400:1. Whilst this is pretty reasonable for a LCD TV, the performance was let down by the low gamma curve which washed out the picture and a backlight uniformity that was rather poor with obvious light pooling at the edges and corners. The screen itself was largely free of reflections but the off-axis performance was limited, so it's just as well the stand swivels. The graph above shows the spread of measurements for the ANSI contrast numbers, resulting in a ratio of 2236:1, which is reasonable but again doesn't give a fair indication of the Bush's real world performance.
The Bush performed rather poorly in the video processing tests, with the scaling resulting in some softness to standard definition content. The video deinterlacing was also sub-par with jaggies appearing when the line wasn't at an acute angle in the first test and jaggies appearing on all three moving bars in the second. The TV even failed to correctly detect PAL 2:2 cadence which will result in a loss of resolution with film based content. The Bush had problems showing details up to video level 255 with white obviously clipping and this extended to the primary colours as well, resulting in a loss of detail in the bright parts of the image. At least the Bush was able to display down to video level 16 properly, which means it was maintaining the shadow detail. Motion handling was also a disappointment, even for a LCD TV, and the wedge patterns on the Spears & Munsil test disc confirmed our suspicions that there was some undefeatable frame interpolation going on. Sadly things didn't improve with 24p content, which whilst free of frame interpolation, was subject to some judder.
The Bush has no dedicated Game mode, so we measured the input lag for all the different available modes and the lowest was the User mode at 65ms. This is clearly too high for a dedicated gamer and even the more casual proponents will notice a lag this high, so the Bush is not really suited for use as a gaming display.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 95W
- Calibrated – User Mode: 84W
Picture QualityWhen we first turned the Bush on and tuned it in, the resulting images were very poor, even when we selected a high definition channel. We were able to improve things to a degree through careful setup but the resulting images were still sub-standard, which might in part be due to the built-in tuner. Both standard and high definition content had a very digital and processed look to them, with excessive smearing, and the inaccuracies in both greyscale and colour gamut were obvious. If we switched to watching a DVD things improved, especially if we bypassed the Bush's internal video processing but the image inaccuracies, poor motion handling and undefeatable frame interpolation were still an issue. Finally we moved on to Blu-ray and whilst this offered the best viewing experience the problems with inaccuracies in both the greyscale and colour gamut persisted. Thankfully the 24p signal was not subject to unwanted frame interpolation but motion handling remained poor and there was occasional judder. Whilst the black level and contrast performance were average for a LCD, the low gamma curve resulted in a washed out image and the poor backlight uniformity impacted on darker scenes. Ultimately the picture quality just isn't good enough, even at the Bush's price point and there are better performers available for a similar price.
- Reasonable audio performance
- Concise and effective menu system
- Energy efficient
- Very poor colour and greyscale accuracy
- No real calibration controls
- Undefeatable frame interpolation
- Poor video processing
- Peak whites are clipped
- Backlight uniformity is poor
- Limited off axis performance
- Poor motion handling
- High input lag
- Limited features
Bush (C46Z18DVBIPTVT2) 46 Inch LED LCD Smart TV Review
The styling of the Bush is so similar to last year's Samsung models that it's a wonder the Korean manufacturer's lawyers haven't been on the phone. Looks aside, the all-plastic construction lacks the well machined feel that one gets with the major manufacturers. The remote control is simple but rather unintuitive to use, although on the plus side, there is a reasonable set of connections at the rear. The setup is relatively straightforward, if rather slow, and the menu system is functional rather than stylish. Whilst the appearance might be monochromatic, it is at least simple to navigate, even if the EPG could be more informative.
The picture controls are basic in the extreme, with even standard controls such as Brightness and Contrast being considered 'advanced'. As a result the picture accuracy was poor even after careful setup and with no real calibration controls, there was little we could do to improve matters. The video processing was also a major let down and the motion handling was equally as poor, with undefeatable frame interpolation apparent. Whilst the contrast performance and dynamic range were average for a LCD, this was made worse by a Gamma curve that was too low and an uneven backlight. The whites and primary colours were also clipped, resulting in a loss of detail in the bright parts of the image.
As a result of all these limitations the picture quality left a lot to be desired, with jaggies and other artefacts obvious on standard definition content; the built-in tuner was particularly poor with a very processed look. Things improved with DVDs, especially if the Bush's internal video processing was by-passed but the image inaccuracies and undefeatable frame interpolation still affected the performance. In fact, motion handling was always a problem and even 24p content didn't escape judder. The smart TV features are minimal compared to the competition these days and with an input lag of 65ms and no Game mode, the Bush would be a poor choice for a serious gamer. On the plus side, the audio performance was actually rather good and the TV is energy efficient.
The Bush 46" LED LCD TV is a major disappointment in almost every area and the simple fact is that there's better performance available at similar prices from many other manufacturers .
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £600.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level5
Ease Of Use6
Value for Money5
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