Finlux 46S6030-T review

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Decent pictures
  • USB media support

Cons

  • Backlight and colour issues
  • Light on features
  • Sound

One thing you can always expect from a Finlux TV is outstanding value for money, and a disbelieving gawp at the 46S6030-T’s price shows we’re in for more of the same. It’s a 46in, Full HD LED-backlit LCD TV with a Freeview HD tuner, which sells for an astonishingly low price of £500. Bells and whistles are few and far between – there’s no 3D support, for example, or Smart TV features – but if you’re looking for an affordable big-screen set for watching Blu-ray and hi-def telly, it looks like a tempting proposition.

Design and features

The 46S6030-T is a surprisingly attractive TV for the money, sporting the fetching combination of a wood grain effect bezel and Perspex outer trim last seen on the 32F6030-T. That bezel is fairly thick, but the set itself is not – its slim 40mm depth makes wall-mounting a viable option.

The supplied stand matches the styling of the screen with a brushed black finish and Perspex outer edge. Sadly, it doesn’t pop into place like the 32F6030-T but screwing it on doesn’t take long.

Build quality is solid. The back panel is plasticky but there’s a satisfying heft when you pick it up. On the rear panel is a generous array of sockets, including four HDMI inputs. Three of these are found on the outward-facing rear panel, which could be a problem when wall-mounting, although Finlux has helpfully located the other one on the side.

You also get two old-school SCART inputs, VGA PC, component, RF aerial and analogue stereo inputs, plus subwoofer and optical digital audio outputs. An Ethernet port is provided, although with no smart TV features or DLNA streaming on board it’s merely a box-ticking exercise for Freeview HD.

With no DLNA or Internet content to worry about, the set’s key feature is its ability to play media files from USB devices. The set’s format support is pretty good too. It played my WMV HD, MP4, AVI, MP3, WMA and WAV files with no problem, although with AVCHD files the picture is glitchy and it played my 1080p MKV movie with no sound. There’s no DivX support at all. All files are accessed from the straightforward Media Browser library, which lists files on the left and shows a preview screen on the right.

The other great thing about the USB connections is that you can hook up a hard-drive and record TV shows from the Freeview tuner. The single tuner means you can only record what you’re watching, but you can schedule recordings from the EPG. It also allows you to pause and rewind live TV.

Next up is 100Hz processing, which should help reduce judder and motion blur when watching sports or other fast-moving material.

The Freeview HD tuner provides four hi-def channels – BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD and Channel 4 HD – alongside a wide range of SD and radio channels.

Operation

A dodgy operating system is usually one of the tell-tale signs of a cheap TV but that’s not the case here. Finlux has fashioned some good-looking onscreen menus and a remote that doesn’t pose too many problems.

The main menu is a row of icons the runs across the middle of the screen, tinged in opulent shades of gold. It’s basic but far from ugly, illustrating each section with a simple icon – Picture, Sound, Settings, Install and Retune, Channel List and Media Browser.

Within the Picture menu you’ll find all the usual tweaks, while all the advanced stuff is tucked away in a separate menu. Here you’ll find Dynamic Contrast, Colour Temperature, Film Mode and RGB Gain settings, plus skin tone and colour shift sliders. The Movie Sense option is Finlux’s motion processing mode, and can be set to low, medium or high.

Fire up the Freeview EPG and it doesn’t get off to a great start, as the default view is a ‘now and next’. You have to press the yellow button to display the full timeline layout, which covers a two-hour period. There’s no mini live TV screen, but as a result it shows a whopping 10 channels at a time and has room at the bottom to show you all the shortcuts. Further disappointment comes with the onscreen information banner, which only shows now and next details and doesn’t show you the programme synopsis.

The set generally operates quickly, loading up digital text in a flash and moving the cursor around menus without any annoying delays.

Performance

Next, picture quality, and the 46S6030-T is by no means perfect, beset by flaws that are undoubtedly a symptom of the low price. But on the whole its pictures are much more impressive than they have any right to be for £500.

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. Like the other Finlux sets, the backlight isn’t uniform, which means you get pools of light along the edges of the screen – most notably within the black bars during movie playback. This results in a slightly patchy picture that loses punch in certain areas.

And while blacks are much deeper than expected, they have a bluish tinge. During Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on Blu-ray, the Ringwraiths’ cloaks don’t have the menacing, impenetrable blackness we’re used to. Playing around with the backlight, brightness and contrast settings helps, but I couldn’t find a balance that truly satisfied.

It doesn’t help that the Auto Backlight mode, which adjusts the level according to the brightness of the scene, jumps around really obviously. There’s a part in The Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo follows Galadriel into a dimly-lit clearing and you can literally see the set’s backlight level rising and falling as it deals with the contrast of Galadriel’s shining aura against the murk of the surrounding woods. You can turn it off, but then the set lacks the flexibility to cope with such scenes.

The colour balance isn’t as natural-looking as I’d like, and facial shading lacks subtlety. But it’s the sort of stuff you’d only notice if you look hard – with my reviewer hat off I can imagine sitting back and being perfectly happy with the Finlux’s pictures.

One last moan concerns standard-definition TV Freeview pictures, which are noisier and fuzzier than I’d like.

There are several positives to report. The 46S6030-T produces remarkably bright, punchy pictures with well-lit Blu-ray movies, plus hi-def channels from the tuner also look fabulous. This is backed up by good motion handling, with no judder and very little resolution loss with lots of fast movement in the picture.

Detail reproduction is excellent too – check the forest floor as Boromir meets his demise, which is strewn with crisply resolved leaves and twigs. And although there are problems with the backlight, dark scenes are still clear and easy to watch thanks to the decent contrast and shadow detail. For instance, during the Mines of Moria scene, you can make out the goblins scuttling up the pillars in the shadowy corners of the picture.

The 46S6030-T’s sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. With TV shows or movies, the frequency range is narrow, resulting in a horribly thin and compressed sound that quickly gets fatiguing with energetic soundtracks. There’s never been a better advert for buying a home cinema system or soundbar.

Verdict

The 46S6030-T has its flaws, but its low price makes up for them. Brightly-lit Blu-ray movies and HD channels look vivid and sharp, while the 100Hz refresh rate makes motion look smoother than most budget sets. This is backed up by plentiful connections, a pleasant design, USB media playback and a good-looking menu system, all of which significantly bumps up its value factor.

Manufacturer and model

Finlux 46S6030-T

Screen size (inches)

46

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

No

Online content

No

DLNA streaming

No

Smartphone control

No

Contrast ratio

6,000:1

Brightness

450cd/m2

Refresh rate

100Hz

Speaker power

2 x 8W

Energy efficiency class

B

Dimensions (with stand, W x H x D)

1,103 x 701 x 221mm

Dimensions (without stand, W x H x D)

1,103 x 671 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