Filling the end of line 55-inch TV vacuum
What is the Finlux 55FME242S-T?It’s fairly self-evident that the television industry is not an easy place to be, in the current climate of rapidly diminishing profit margins and sharply increasing numbers of competitors. Some of the established order are even dropping out to pursue more profitable ventures, whilst others are paring back their lines in an effort to streamline. Then there’s the backdrop of the technological breakthroughs in Ultra HD, HDR, Quantum Dot and OLED TVs to consider – these are truly unusual but exciting times!
So what’s that got to do with Finlux and, more specifically, the 55FME242S-T? Well, amidst all the confusion, this company keeps their offer relatively simple. Finlux operates exclusively online, through its own web store, providing a range of attractively styled TVs with the basic smart features that most people want and, most importantly, at prices people are willing to pay. This 55-inch Smart TV is priced (February 2015) at only £549.99 and, to look at it, you would in no way consider it to be a budget TV.
Moreover, given Finlux’s recent decision to go with panels that provide really good native contrast and accurate colours, there’s a good chance it will perform as well as it looks, so let the testing commence to discover if the 55MFE242S-T is a bit of a bargain?
DesignAs we intimated above, the 55MFE242S is a really good looking telly. The silver trim encapsulating the narrow black bezel is very stylish and the brushed metal look of the swivelling base stand is equally as attractive. The infra-red sensor and power indicator light are located on a subtle panel at the bottom of the bezel just beneath the company logo.
The supplied remote control is decent, although a bit longer than most, so it’s not the easiest to operate with just one hand. A finger recess on the back would have helped, so there’s something for the Finlux designers to consider next time around. The button layout is quite good but some of them have icons that don’t make it abundantly clear what their function is, so perhaps text would be a better choice for the likes of the browser, media player and ‘favourite’ keys.
ConnectionsThere’s a comprehensive selection of video and audio inputs and outputs on board this Finlux. Those include get 4 HDMI inputs, all the legacy video connections, two USB ports and both wired and (5Ghz capable) wireless LAN. Audio outs number a headphone/line out jack (selectable in the menu) and a coaxial digital audio connector so if your soundbar/other solution has only a Toslink input (as many do), you’ll need to seek out some form of adapter.
All the connections you'd expect bar a toslink digital audio output
Finlux Smart TV appsThanks to the recent inclusion of the third party Opera app store within the Finlux Smart TV offering, there are now far more services to consider. That said, for our money, most of what people will want – and actually use – is contained within the home screen in the online portal. There are pre-installed apps for YouTube, Netflix and BBC iPlayer, plus a reasonably good web browser and Facebook integration. Thanks to a recent software upgrade the Netflix app is running better than it was and the iPlayer is very well implemented indeed. The only thing we found of interest in the Opera store was a calibration pattern/network testing app, which gave the indication that wireless performance isn’t all that great – we can get over 100Mbps on some of our WiFi devices but we only got 12Mbps through the 55MFE242S-T; still, that’s plenty for online HD video streaming so no real cause for concern.
Finlux 55FTE242S-T Picture SettingsAs with all recent Finlux TVs we’ve tested, you get a markedly different out-of-box standard of picture quality depending on what source you’re using. The inbuilt Freeview tuner defaults to the reasonably palatable ‘Natural’ picture mode, whilst everything else comes with the unpleasant ‘Dynamic’ setting, which should be changed at once. As a rule of thumb, set your Finlux to Cinema, turn off the Eco setting, navigate to the advanced menu and select a ‘Colour Temp’ of Warm and you should be closer to the industry standards. We do see some slight anomalies where a Colour Temp of Normal is best but that doesn’t happen very often.
CalibrationWe certainly don’t expect that many – if any – Finlux TV owners will be rushing to find their nearest professional calibrator and, in all honesty, you’d really be wasting your money. The reason for that is the nature of the adjustment controls, which are coarse and very narrow in scope. You get a single slider for each of the colour channels and one click either way can radically alter the accuracy.
As we can see from the charts, top left, the Cinema/Warm combination yielded and unhealthy excess of green energy in the grayscale but it was still the most accurate out of box alternative. Colours, on the other hand, were very good for a pre-set with all errors, bar cyan, within tolerable levels at full saturation levels.
As we said above, the calibration controls in the Finlux TVs are very ropey and although we were able to get errors in the upper half of the greyscale to within tolerable levels, the murky green tinge to shades nearer black persisted. Colours improved further following the adjustments, however, but we’d really like to see a basic two point white balance control included to allow the panel to reach its potential.
Input LagThis is a very good choice for gaming on the big screen with an input lag that hovers around the 30 millisecond mark. That puts the 55FTE242S-T amongst the most responsive TVs we’ve tested in the last 12 months, if not quite the best.
If only we could make more meaningful picture adjustments, this one could have been a real winner!
Finlux 55FTE242S-T Picture QualityThe biggest complaint we had about the 65-inch version of this TV was in its inability to deal with lesser quality sources, it really needed either a Blu-ray disc or the very best in what a streaming service can provide. Fortunately, the 55FTE isn’t quite so picky and anything from broadcast standard HD and up can look good so there’s clearly a higher grade panel being used. Native contrast performance is very good with black measuring under 0.04cd/m2, putting it close to the performance of the likes some of the Samsung, Panasonic and Sony TVs.
Whilst the FTE242S-T can match some of the big boys, in terms of contrast, they’re not as strong in the video processing area with some fairly soft scaling of standard definition content and the inability to detect DVD film cadences, at least as far as most discs purchased in the UK are concerned. We see this as less and less of a concern, to be honest, and the handling of streaming and catch-up services is probably more important for the target audience. In that regard the Finlux performed well in dealing with 1080p24 material from Netflix with no obvious issues.
The biggest concern we hold over the 55FTE242S-T is in its erratic greyscale, however, and whilst a good amount of content can look natural, i.e. the brighter scenes, the green mist in those that are darker can spoil the fun. One moment it can look great but come a change of scene, or environment, it’s difficult not to spot the tinge. That said, we’re speaking as folk who have been used to watching calibrated displays for years and, for many, the accurate colours and impressive contrast performance will prove enough.
- Good blacks and contrast
- Accurate colours
- Nice design
- Excellent price
- Decent core Smart TV features
- Green tinge to dark areas of the picture
- Average video processing
- Rubbish calibration controls
Finlux 55FME242S-T TV Review
Should I buy the Finlux 55FTE242S-T?
Perusing the major online retailers – and it would appear Finlux have been doing the same – at the time of publishing (Feb 2015), there isn’t much around in terms of a 55-inch Smart TV that can touch the FTE242S-T, price-wise. The 55-inch sector has been one of the success stories in 2014 for the manufacturers and the new lines have yet to hit the stores. We realise this isn’t really answering the question so let’s put it this way – if you’re in the market for, specifically, a 55-inch TV with a good set of Smart TV pictures, mostly really good high definition pictures and an attractive design, we definitely recommend you take a look but if you’re finicky about image accuracy, it might be worth holding on.
What else could I consider?
If you’ve read the section above, which we hope you have, you’ll know that the current market is starved of direct competition. If you’re prepared to drop 5-inches, then the 50-inch version of the Samsung H5500 will provide better pictures and smart functionality at the same price but other than that, we’re struggling to offer a real alternative. But with all the new models due to be released, you could sit tight for a while and have a look at our Ultimate TV Buyers Guide for some more pointers.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality7
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box6
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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