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Finlux 40S8070-T review

TV & AVReviews
7/10
, 15 Dec 2012Reviews
Finlux 40S8070-T review

The 40S8070-T is yet another aggressively priced TV to roll off the Finlux production line, but this one looks like particularly good value for money – and that’s saying something considering the bargains we’ve already seen from the Finnish brand.

Just £500 smackers gets you a 40in LED backlit LCD set equipped with integrated Freeview HD, 100Hz processing and, best of all, an impressive array of smart TV content – features you might not expect to find on such a modestly priced set. One of the reasons Finlux can offer sets like this at such low prices is that it sells them directly from its website.

Design and connections

Also impressive for the money is the set’s design. It’s certainly not the slimmest LED LCD set we’ve encountered, particularly when compared with paper-thin sets from some rivals, but on the plus side it’s significantly slimmer than a traditional LCD set.

The impressive part is the set’s attractive ‘frameless’ design and heavy, robust build quality. The screen and black bezel share a single flush surface, while the overlapping transparent trim around the edge adds further panache. There’s even a silver strip that runs along the top and sides that you can’t even see unless you look up close.

This certainly doesn’t look or feel like a TV costing just £500.

The bottom left-hand corner plays host to a row of touch-sensitive controls that beep gently when pressed. The stand, which you have to attach yourself, features the same black finish with transparent trim and tops off the look nicely.

On the back is a panel of outward-facing sockets, which might cause logistical problems if you’re wall-mounting the set. Still, the selection is excellent. Most generous is the provision of four HDMI inputs (including one on the side), which some big-name brands can’t even manage. You also get two SCART inputs, Ethernet, component video, analogue stereo and PC VGA inputs, plus subwoofer and optical digital audio outputs for boosting the sound quality.

Joining the fourth HDMI on the side-mounted panel are a headphone jack, an AV input, a common interface slot and two USB ports. These can be used to connect USB storage and play media files or record TV programmes from the Freeview tuner. It also enables you to pause and rewind live TV, which is good news if you don’t own a proper PVR.

Features

As mentioned you can connect the 40S8070-T to the Internet and access a wealth of content, while its DLNA certification lets you stream your own content from networked servers.

But the remarkable thing is that you can access these features wirelessly using the supplied USB Wi-Fi dongle – incredibly generous at this price, given that brands like Sony and Panasonic charge top dollar for their dongles. Of course that gobbles up one of your USB ports but it’s worth it for the convenience of not having to bother with messy Ethernet cables.

The Internet portal offers a more generous content selection than you might expect (26 apps in total), but it’s not a case of quantity over quality – for starters, there’s BBC iPlayer, which is a must for any online portal, with YouTube, ITN, Twitter and Facebook being some the other well-known names.

These are backed up by Viewster, CineTrailer, eBay, TuneIn Radio and a brilliant app (if you’re a football fan, anyway) dedicated to the World Cup 2014 qualifiers, showing match highlights and information about upcoming games. Also here are a few games like Twin Match Ocean, Tactic 2 and Solitaire Club, which are great for a bit of simple time killing.

With its simple grid of app icons against a blue background, it lacks the pizzazz of portals like Smart Hub, and more catch-up TV and on-demand movie sites would be nice, but all in all it’s a valuable feature that has no right being found on such an affordable TV.

The DLNA feature works really well. Access the Media Browser and you can explore music, videos and photos on networked servers. Its video format support is fairly good, playing WMV, MP4, 3GP, AVI, XviD and MPEG-1, but AVCHD playback was glitchy and it played my 1080p MKV file without sound due to the lack of on-board DTS decoding. Music-wise it’s comfortable playing MP3, WMA and WAV, although listening to music through your TV is never ideal.

The set has another network-related trick up its sleeve. There’s an iPad/iPhone/iPod touch app that enables you to control the TV with those devices, as well as making on-screen typing much easier. There are even motion sensors that trigger functions by moving your device.

Rounding up the features are 100Hz processing, a decent range of picture tweaks including Skin Tone and colour shift settings, and a built-in Freeview HD tuner. 3D support is the only obvious omission, but at this price that might have been pushing it. If it’s 3D you want, try the 42F7080 or 42S9100-T.

Operation

Finlux’s onscreen presentation isn’t showy or clever, but nails it where it counts – namely usability. The main menu is a gold-coloured row of simple icons running across the middle of the screen. It’s simple and responsive, like all the best menus are.

The setup comprises straightforward lists. When adjusting the picture, it’s annoying that you have to press OK to select Contrast, for example, then go back to the picture menu to select another parameter – you can’t simply move up and down.

Plug in the wireless dongle and setup is easy. The set detects it straight away and within the Network Settings menu you can scan for access points and enter your encryption key. There’s even a speed test should you need it.

The other menus are a mixed bag – the pleasant Media Browser menu breaks content down into digestible sections (music, video, photos, recorded TV) and plays back files with the relevant details on the right and a preview screen.

On the flip side, the EPG isn’t great, losing live TV completely and using a ‘now and next’ layout by default – to see the classic timeline grid you have to hit the yellow button. However, I do like the fact that you can see 10 channels at a time, and there are loads of colour-coded options along the bottom (including Record if you have USB memory attached).

The info banner – a Freeview staple that people rely on to provide details about the programme they’re watching – is also limited to now and next, and doesn’t even provide a synopsis.

The long remote has a pleasant rubbery texture, sporting ranks of large, firm buttons all the way down without feeling cluttered. The direction pad, channel change and volume keys are prominent and you get a few handy shortcuts, such as Internet, multimedia and two buttons that can be programmed with a function of your choice. Some of the buttons are oddly placed, like the EPG button at the top, and some of the lettering is very small.

Performance

Watch the 40S8070-T without your analytical hat on and you’re likely to find its pictures very enjoyable. There’s an arresting brightness and punch that hooks you from the first viewing (once you’ve tempered the over-enthusiastic Dynamic mode, that is), which is particularly great in bright surroundings.

Freeview HD shows like The One Show or dazzling Blu-ray movies like Monsters Inc look solid and sharp. It lacks the finessed, microscopic presentation of detail and textures you’d get from pricier LED sets, but on the whole these images scream ‘high definition’.

What’s more, fast-moving objects are surprisingly free from motion blur, while detail generally holds steady when the camera moves. There’s some shimmer and a little detail loss here and there, but nothing that’ll make you switch off in disgust.

Hi-def colour reproduction – so often the Achilles' heel of budget TVs – is surprisingly assured too, particularly when dealing with bold tones. The loud primary colours of Rastamouse on BBC HD look deep enough to swim in and there’s scant evidence of banding on tonal blends. Oddly it looks artificial when watching standard definition, making skin tones look smeary and a little off kilter, but stick with HD and you’re onto a winner.

Slip The Fellowship of the Ring into the Blu-ray player, and there’s more good news to report. The movie’s gloomy Mines of Moria sequence is surprisingly easy to follow, thanks to the clear shadow detail, expansive contrast and minimal backlight leakage. There are a couple of distracting patches of light, but it’s not as serious as some other budget sets. You’ll need to have a play with the presets and adjustments to find a balance that keeps detail visible without losing black definition (Natural or Cinema are best) but to be honest that’s not too difficult.

Sound

Let’s not beat about the bush – the 40S8070’s sound quality is absolutely dreadful. Thin and compressed to the point of ear fatigue, it’s a difficult listen and can’t be rectified in the User EQ settings. Don’t even think about listening to music through its speakers. If you buy this set then it’s absolutely imperative that you invest the money you saved in a soundbar or home cinema system.

Verdict

The 40S8070-T is far from a world-beater in terms of colour fidelity, blacks, backlight consistency and SD performance, but overall its pictures are much better than I expected for the money. With the right material, they’re bright, crisp, low on motion artefacts and solidly contrasted. And when you add this pleasing performance to the high-quality design and tasty feature list – which includes a free Wi-Fi dongle, generous Internet content, DLNA and USB functionality – this is a TV that should be filed under 'bargain'.

Specifications

Manufacturer and model

Finlux 40S8070-T

Screen size (inches)

40

Resolution

1,920 x 1,080

Backlight technology

LED

Picture engine

N/A

Digital tuner

Freeview HD

3D ready

No

3D technology

N/A

3D glasses supplied

N/A

2D-to-3D conversion

No

Wi-Fi

Yes (via supplied USB dongle)

Online content

Yes

DLNA streaming

Yes

Smartphone control

Yes

Contrast ratio

5,000:1

Brightness

450cd/m2

Refresh rate

100Hz

Speaker power

2 x 8W

Energy efficiency class

B

Dimensions (with stand, W x H x D)

958 x 620 x 215mm

Dimensions (without stand, W x H x D)

958 x 571 x 40mm

HDMI

4

Component

1

Composite

1

SCART

2

Digital audio output

1 (optical)

PC input

1

USB

2

SD card slot

No

Ethernet

Yes

CI slot

Yes

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