An impressive sub £500 all-rounder
What is the Finlux 48FT3E242S-T?It’s a brand new television from the online only brand and it boasts at least a couple of new features, as far as this manufacturer is concerned. For starters, this TV sports active shutter 3D technology and whilst this isn’t going to be a great selling point for most, it will be interesting to see how the Vestel engineers have coped with the challenge. The FT3E242S-T (catchy name) is also the first Smart TV to gain access to the Opera store, and its presence will augment the existing suite of apps and features. At the time of publishing (December 2014), you can grab this set for £499.99 so it dips under that particular ‘magic’ £500 price threshold.
Who is it aimed at?
At the minimum, it is for those interested in getting themselves a Smart TV, otherwise you could probably pick up something with similar picture performance for less. A liking for 3D would also be an advantage or the same applies and it’s not a TV for brand snobs, we guess, as Finlux are still gaining traction in the UK market.
Design & ConnectionsFor a sub £500 television, the build quality feels very good. The trim encapsulating the ultra-narrow bezel screen is actual metal, rather than plastic, and the base-stand is also very sturdy, although it's just metal-effect. This gives the package quite a lot of weight and solidity and, all in all, it’s a very good looking TV, with no sense of it being a budget offering.
Finlux has taken the decision not to equip the 48FT with a component video input and the digital audio connection is coaxial rather than Toslink, so if you have a soundbar or other audio solution that only has the latter option, you’ll need some form of convertor. Elsewhere, it’s a more routine set of connections, including 3 HDMI inputs, 2 USB ports, a Scart connection and both wired and wireless LAN options.
Remote ControlYou’re not likely to lose it, let’s put it that way. In this new world of smart controllers, the one supplied here feels positively gargantuan but that makes buttons both easy to find and press. There are dedicated buttons to take you to the Netflix and YouTube apps, next to the one for more general internet services.
You're not likely to lose this remote
Finlux Smart TV appsYou can get a fuller picture of what the native Smart TV capabilities of the Finlux TVs are by reading our dedicated review but the arrival of the 48FT3E242S-T means that’s due an update. As we said above, the Opera Store has been added, extending the choice of apps available through the platform by quite a lot. In truth, Opera – which is a middleware solution for manufacturers – hasn’t currently got much worth shouting about, over the native apps, but it’s an ever-growing platform.
You already have access to the three of the most used video streaming services, in BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix and there’s an in-built web browser, Facebook and Skype apps as well. The Netflix app is currently very sluggish but we know a fix is being readied. The iPlayer app is working very well, on the other hand, and features the new interface and 30 day catch-up.
Finlux 48FT3E242S-T Picture SettingsIt’s a fairly easy choice, if you value picture accuracy. Put the Finlux in to the Cinema picture mode and choose a colour temperature of Warm from the advanced settings. This will get you a lot closer than the out of box settings but you can do even better by following the steps in the Picture Perfect Guides. You could also try the settings obtained from the review sample’s calibration which, since the Finlux TVs behave quite uniformly, should get you even closer to accuracy. We certainly can’t imagine many owners shelling out half the price of the TV for a pro calibration.
With the settings noted above, the Finlux provided an image that had too much green and too little blue in the greyscale, which was noticeable in whiter shades but it’s still a reasonable out of box performance. Colours were actually very good with the only errors of any significance being in hue, for cyan, and saturation with blue.
To say the RGB Gain controls in the Finlux TV are quite basic would be an understatement. Not only do they affect greyscale performance, they also have quite dramatic effects on colours, too. For once, we actually were able to use that to our advantage and we got a greyscale that was more favourable, whilst reducing the green primary luminance error. The greyscale was far from great but at least the green tinge had gone, to be replaced by a slightly rosy look to whites.
Accurate & responsive for gamers
Input LagThe 48FT3E242S-T scores extremely well here and you don’t need to enter the dire looking Game mode to achieve low controller latency. In the calibrated Cinema mode, we recorded a measurement of 26.3milliseconds lag, which puts it fairly close to top of the pile in terms of the TVs we’ve tested in 2014.
Finlux 48FT3E242S Video Review
Finlux 48FT3E242S-T Picture QualityWe hope Finlux don’t mind us saying this but the fact this TV is using active shutter 3D technology is more exciting, for us, in terms of the 2D images. It means the panel used isn’t IPS and therefore doesn’t suffer from its contrast and black level limitations. In fact, this Finlux had very respectable black levels, measuring an averaged 0.041 cd/m2 from a chequerboard pattern. Resultantly, we got a measured contrast ratio approaching 2,500:1, which is better than we’ve seen any Finlux perform recently; it’s also at least 3 times the contrast any run-of-the mill passive 3D can produce.
It has to be said that even the minor adjustments we made to the calibration controls made a major improvement, with the out of the box performance a couple of notches below, in terms of naturalness. Once adjusted, pictures came to life and with Blu-ray sources, in particular, looked excellent and the 48FT3E242S had no problems in handling high definition film cadences. In contrast, the presentation of standard definition material wasn’t so impressive, with scaling that is somewhat soft and weaker video processing. In truth, we hardly ever watch SD these days so it’s not a problem for us.
The same could be said of 3D, on a personal level, but for anyone interested to know have Finlux have handled the leap to active shutter tech, the news is good. With the same settings in the Cinema mode we used in 2D (bar increasing the backlight level), the Finlux provided high contrast images with plenty of depth. Near-field objects, particularly white ones, showed some ghosting but the general 3D presentation was impressive. The supplied specs are light and comfortable to wear and somewhat resemble some Samsung provided but the Finlux ones have larger lenses, which is a good thing.
Once again our complaints are related to screen uniformity and although this Finlux wasn't an especially bad example of the technology, it was often quite easy to see the structure of the panel when the camera moves. It was a little better on scenes with lots of dark content but there was some liht pooling toward the corners. Neither was particularly distracting but of course we'd rather they weren't there.
- Good blacks
- Improved Smart TV features
- 3D is very watchable
- Solid build quality
- Out of box accuracy not great
- Handling of standard def weak
Finlux 48FT3E242S-T TV Review
Should I buy the Finlux 48FT3E242S?
There is a very good performance to be had out of this TV; with just a few picture adjustments it can achieve detailed high definition pictures with convincing colours and plenty of pop. This is true of both 2D and, the newly implemented active shutter, 3D images. There’s a decent set of Smart TV features as well and the build quality, and arguably, the design is better than in others currently occupying the same price and size bracket. For gamers, it’s great, with low input latency achievable in the most pleasing picture modes. The problem this TV has got is timing. The pre-Christmas market is vicious and competition, therefore, intense. Shop around and you’ll find Smart TVs from more established brands at comparable prices…
What else is there?
…As stated above, at the time of publishing (December 2014), there are plenty of discounted TVs out there. The Samsung UE48H5500 springs instantly to mind, as does the Panasonic 48AS640; the former is hovering just under £520 but the latter is considerably more. For a more general idea of the market, why not take a look at our series of Buyers Guides.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality7
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box6
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.