Design & Connections
The S-9100T is suitably equipped in the connectivity department sporting 4 HDMI connections, 3 of which are facing outwards from the rear and one very close to the edge. There are also 2 RGB SCART terminals, a D-SUB PC connection, Component and Composite Video connections with accompanying L/R audio jacks, aerial socket and a LAN Port. Unusually, the S8070 provides an output that allows connection of an active sub-woofer and also, on the audio front, there's an S/PDIF digital audio out and completing the connections – and to the side – are two USB inputs and a CAM slot.
Finlux give the user two choices of remote control in the box, both of which are nicely constructed. The first is a conventional handset that’s somewhat reminiscent of the LG form and is similarly well conceived with a good amount of space between buttons. The second controller is more pocket-sized and features pretty much just the basic operations but a good idea for freeing up come coffee table/arm of chair space. Also in the box is a wireless USB dongle – we would have preferred for this to have been built in, but shouldn’t complain – and 8 pairs of 3D Glasses which we’ll discuss later on.
Flat panel, flat sound is generally the way of things and the S9100-T doesn’t particularly buck that trend but it’s by far not the worst example we’ve heard and it’s certainly capable of going to quite loud volumes before distorting. There’s not very much in the way of bass kick but at least there is a subwoofer out, which if you are able to utilise, will make a big difference.
The Finlux 42S9100-T offers a choice of 5 Picture Modes – Dynamic, Natural, Movie, Game and Sports – which we’ll measure for accuracy later on in the Test Section area of this review. There are, of course, all the usual ‘front-panel’ controls of Contrast, Brightness and Colour as well as options for Low, Medium, High and Auto for the Backlight intensity. There’s some ECO modes for either switching off the video signal or setting to a low energy mode.
Of course with Finlux grabbing the 3D nettle there’s options for that in the Picture Menu with 3D Mode (Top/Bottom, Auto, Side by Side), Low Medium and High for the 2D to 3D Conversion, Left/Right swap to reverse the polarity for those experiencing uncomfortable viewing and 3D Depth Sense with a slider that runs from minus to plus 10.
It seems like the Vestel engineers not only looked at the White Balance controls but also addressed the slightly sketchy handling of 1080p24, at least to some extent, and it’s now far smoother than previously. We did notice the odd frame skipping but it was never enough to truly distract and distinctly more watchable than with the old processing engine. More evidence that some work has gone in to improving the picture processing came by virtue of the S9100-T being able to detect the PAL 2:2 cadence, where the Finlux TVs wouldn’t in the past. In a total reversal, the NTSC 2:3 cadence is now not picked up on but PAL is more important to us here. Scaling performance is quite good, too, with only just a hint of ringing to 576i pictures. Video deinterlacing is a little less impressive with some quite noticeable break up of fine lines and detail in motion.
Contrast and Black Level
With the Finlux S-9100T sporting passive 3D technology there’s no doubt it’s using an LG IPS panel. Deep black levels and large dynamic range are not a trait of these panels and so it should come as no surprise to see the 9100-T struggle to topple the 1000:1 milestone for contrast ratio. It got close, averaging a black level of 0.12cd/m2 against peak white of 109 cd/m2, on our ANSI checkerboard pattern but topped out at 920:1 (ish). We could have pushed the panel much brighter and seen a commensurate increase in contrast but we try and standardise a peak white of 120 cd/m2 on a full raster to keep the playing field level. We’ll give an extra mark for the black levels owing to an excellent level of screen uniformity and an effective filter that combats ambient light well.
The Finlux S9100-T is most assuredly not a TV for gamers. With input lag routinely measuring between 115 and 120 milliseconds, that’s a long old wait before your actions on the controller are reflected on screen. Game mode is clearly nothing more than a token, feature list ticksheet item as it does nothing to reduce latency.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Dynamic Mode: 88W
Calibrated – Cinema Mode: 60.2W
3D Cinema Mode: 90W
Picture Quality - 2D
As we mentioned in the Test Results, scaling of standard definition signals was fairly accomplished and with stable detection of the PAL standard definition film cadences, to boot, the kids' DVD collections were handled with sympathy. Sports lovers might want to consider using the milder form of Finlux’s motion interpolating ‘Movie Sense’ processing although the trade-off of some artefacting around edges for slightly perceptually improved clarity in motion is a close call.
The S9100-T isn’t one you’d want to watch in a darkened room, dynamic range is fairly limited but black levels attain satisfactory status by virtue of a complete lack of clouding. Screen uniformity, in general, was good although we could see some of the panel array, behind the pictures – together with a touch of ‘dirty screen effect’ on fast pans with bright colours (and white) but instances were fairly fleeting and rare. Overall the Finux S9100-T brought more to the table than it took away and some minor alterations to the processing has brought dividends in some key areas. Good job engineers!
Picture Quality - 3D
With said 3D specs donned, we returned to some of our tried and trusted 3D discs as well as some side by side material recorded from the BBC. We’re very pleased to report the S9100-T lived up to the promise of the LG panel, delivering excellent depth and pop-out, where required, on Titanic and Avatar as well as accurate colours and decent motion performance. The colours did need a tweak in the Picture Menu and there is a certain jerkiness top motion with 3D Blu-ray, on occasion, but generally we found the presentation to be excellent with barely any crosstalk in evidence. Happy Feet 2 – our favourite crosstalk torture test – has rarely looked so
- Contemporary design
- Great 3D
- Accurate colours, post calibration
- Great viewing angles
- Excellent uniformity
- Good price
- Dynamic range is limited
- Some slight skips with Blu-ray
- Gaming lag is atrocious
Finlux S9100 (42S9100-T) 3D LED LCD TV Review
Finlux haven’t made a great deal of progress with their online content but the two most popular Video on Demand services – BBC iPlayer and YouTube – both feature as well as Twitter, Facebook and Picasa. Media playback support isn’t the strongest and streaming seems hampered by a lack of processing grunt as the S9100 struggled to cope with even moderately sized file structures from a PC. Improvements in the calibration controls, albeit modest ones, meant we were able to extract pleasingly accurate colours from the Finlux and there’s also been a modification to the handling of 1080p24 content, meaning Blu-rays playback more faithfully than in previous generations. Elsewhere the handling of standard definition content is also good, with creditable scaling and commendable film cadence detection. Whilst it’s good to see the improvements in picture processing, Finlux/Vestel needs to look in to how they shut some of it down to make the Game mode more than a feature to stick on the spec sheet. Input lag was abominable and we’d advise gamers to look elsewhere.
The Finlux S9100-T is capable of producing reasonably convincing black levels, mainly down to the fact we could detect very little in the way of uneven screen uniformity. Shadow detail isn’t great and dynamic range is mediocre but colours hold up well off-axis and motion handling is reasonable. It’s with 3D content that the Finlux truly shines, producing bright, punchy and engaging images that are virtually crosstalk free and extremely comfortable to watch. We did notice some judder with 3D Blu-ray but nothing to seriously distract.
By virtue of its blend of style, value and pleasing picture performance, the Finlux S9100-T deserves to go on the must see list of any passive 3D fan. It’s not a watch-with-the-lights-off kind of TV and it’s one to avoid for gamers, but as well as its extremely pleasing colour palette there’s excellent screen uniformity and generous viewing angles to sweeten the deal, making it an AVForums Recommended Award Winner.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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