Ultra HD needs to be more than a tickbox feature
What is the UT3E242S-TWell, it’s not a very catchy product name, for sure, but this TV distinguishes itself by being the first ever 4K Ultra HD TV to be put on the market by Finlux. Other than the resolution upgrade, this is actually a very similar TV to the last Finlux model we looked at, which was decent for the money. Speaking of which, this product is available only from the Finlux website with a price of £999 which, while not expensive, isn’t a great deal below something more mainstream, like the Samsung 55JU6400. So, the question is, will saving £300 be worth it to get in on the resolution revolution or is worth spending extra to get the likes of the 4K Netflix and Amazon apps not present in the Finlux? We’ll answer those questions, and more, by the end of the review.
Design & ConnectionsThe 55UT3E242S-T definitely doesn’t look or feel like a budget set, with actual metal – rather than plastic-metal-effect - trimming and accompanying base-stand, which allows for a degree of positioning through its swivelling system. The bundled remote control isn’t especially ‘designer’ however and the buttons could use a clearer labelling system but it’s relatively easy to handle and is of a ‘good’ size.
One of the limiting factors of this TV is its lack of HDMI 2.0 connectivity and HEVC decoding, which means 4K Blu-ray and streaming is a no-no for this TV. In fact, you’re going to be limited for Ultra HD sources beyond hooking up a PC or something like a 4K Android Box, which is only going to give you very limited options. So, in all honesty, when it comes to UHD, this Finlux is more about marketing than it is substance.
That aside, you do get 4 HDMI ports which is reasonably generous, 3 USB inputs, all the legacy video connections (Scart/Component/Composite) 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.
The lack of future-proofing is very worrying. In fact, it's nearly terminal as far as 4K goes
Finlux Smart TV apps and UIThe new menus are bit sluggish and not as easy to navigate as they once were so it looks like the 55UT3E242S-T could use a software update to speed things up. The same applies to the native Smart TV portal and the third party Opera app store. There are pre-installed apps for YouTube, Netflix (as said, neither are 4K/UHD able) and BBC iPlayer, plus a reasonably good web browser and Facebook integration. It’s a fairly basic set of apps but most people would be satisfied, although the lack of Ultra HD playback over USB is another hindrance to this television.
Finlux 55UT3E242S-T Picture SettingsThere’s not all that much that can be done with the Finlux picture controls, in all honesty, and getting to the most accurate image possible won’t take you long. Opt for the Cinema/Movie picture mode, turn down the sharpness and set the backlight to medium, and you’re almost there. You will just then need to go in the Advanced Settings, put the Colour Temperature to Warm and switch off the Dynamic Contrast - job done.
CalibrationAs stated above, the Finlux calibration controls are such that almost all you can do is get to the best default configuration. You alter one parameter in the RGB sub menu and it ends up dramatically adjusting an unexpected one somewhere else. This has been an issue with the Finlux TVs since year dot but we doubt many owners will calibrate them and Finlux really doesn’t seem inclined to fix the controls.
As it turns out, once we’d made the adjustments noted above and tweaked the Skin Tone control to slightly reduce red energy in the greyscale, the white balance was good from black to white, with a highest delta error just below the notional ‘safe’ threshold of 3. The colours weren’t so good, however, and as the errors were non-uniform, especially in terms of luminance, beyond the scope of any of the controls. The over-brightness of red at full saturation was quite noticeable on real world content, as was the reddy-hued yellows.
Picture QualityWe hooked up a Minix X8-H Plus to the Finlux in order to be able to test the Ultra HD playback and we have to say it looked very good; hopefully LG won’t mind we borrowed some of their EC970V OLED demo material but we couldn’t resist. Of course, it’s all well and good that the UT3E242S-T looks impressive with 4K but the reality of the situation is that any media player coming out in the future with support for mainstream UHD capable apps will no doubt have to have HDMI 2.0(a) connectivity with HDCP 2.2 compliance. Thus you’re going to be limited on this TV to downloaded demos and clips and, as such, we're never really going to see it work to full potential.
So what about the 1080p (and below) performance?Since this is what you’re going to be watching, it’s far more important to know how this Finlux deals with lesser resolutions. Well, this TV has its strong points; colours generally look quite accurate, despite the errors at full saturation levels and viewing angles are good. The scaling capabilities of this TV are reasonable but you’d definitely see a sharper picture with a good Full HD TV. The 55UT3E242S-T has average motion handling and there was noticeable blurring of the ball when watching some football but that’s not untypical of other TVs using these technologies.
It's not a bad TV, it's just a bit pointless really
This being an IPS panel, contrast performance isn’t a forte and we measured a black level of 0.134 cd/m2, which, having last reviewed an OLED, was something of a come-down. Pitting a £6 grand TV against one costing just under £1,000 is hardly fair, of course, but there are TVs in this price sector with significantly better blacks. There’s nothing really bad about the pictures the UT3E242S-T produces but then there’s almost nothing to set the pulse racing either. We should give credit for the good screen uniformity, at least, so at least mediocrity wasn’t worsened by anything really untoward.
What about the 3D?Actually, we did this Finlux a bit of a disservice above, the 3D images it produces are genuinely good. I’ve always been more comfortable with passive systems and the 4K resolution actually provides the benefit of delivering Full HD images to both eyes. The results were impressive with lots of detail to go with the depth, in addition to a decent colour palette and bright crosstalk-free pictures. The lack of contrast is still apparent and the motion looks a bit over-smoothed but this is generally a pleasing 3D experience.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 75% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 7 What do these mean?
- Well built
- Good uniformity
- Believable colours
- No HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2
- No 4K streaming apps
- Weak contrast
- Very reflective
- Not really that cheap
Finlux 55UT3E242S-T Ultra HD 4K TV Review
Should I buy the Finlux 55UT3E242S-T?We’ll rarely, if ever, issue a flat-out ‘no’ to such a question but you will need to approach this one with caution. There’s very little point in buying it on the grounds of the 4K capability as future developments will leave its technology, particularly in terms of connectivity, lagging behind the times. It’s nice to have the most up-to-date kit but the 4K support here is a tick box feature, rather than anything really meaningful.
To be fair, the UT3E242S-T is not a bad television at all; the out of box accuracy is quite impressive, viewing angles are very good and the 3D is impactful. There’s not much ‘oomph’ due to the mediocre contrast performance but that won’t be an issue in most living rooms and it also displayed creditable screen uniformity. The Smart TV features, while basic, cover some important bases and the design is also pleasing, with a solid feel to the engineering behind it. The problem is, at this price point, you would be far better served with a good Full HD TV or just spend that bit more for much better future-proofing.
What else could I consider?Prices have eroded in the Ultra HD TV market far quicker than the manufacturer’s would have liked but finding a 55-inch one, from one of the big boys, for under a grand is still quite rare. If you’re quick, at the time of publishing (May 2015), you could pick up a Samsung 55HU6900 for slightly less than the asking price of the Finlux and we would say it’s a much better bet, all round. It’s a 2014 model but still better future-proofed and, while we didn’t review that model in particular, our experiences with the very similar HU7500 gives us the confidence to recommend.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level6
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use7
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
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