Finlux 42F7010 £449.99
30th Apr 2012 | 11:15
Yes, it's a budget 3D TV from Finland
Finlux has never made a more concerted bid to get a foothold in the UK TV marketplace than it is right now.
Driven by the considerable muscle of its newish Turkish owner Vestel, Finlux is currently offering visitors to its online shop a startlingly wide variety of TVs, covering both a comprehensive array of sizes all the way up to 55 inches, and a reasonably wide selection of features. Including 3D.
The 3D-capable Finlux 42F7010 gives you, as its name suggests, a 42-inch screen. And the 3D technology it uses - as might be expected on a price-focused TV - is passive.
There will be an in-depth consideration of the pros and cons of passive 3D, as opposed to active shutter 3D, in the Performance section of this review. But one thing worth noting up front here is that the Finlux 42F7010 delivers big-time on passive 3D's cheap glasses advantage by providing eight pairs for free with the TV.
The Finlux 42F7010 isn't especially well stocked with fancy picture fine-tuning tools, as might be expected. But it's got more connections than you might anticipate, including four HDMIs and a pair of USB ports that can be used for playing music, photo and even video files from USB storage devices.
Finlux hasn't managed to extend the 42F7010's multimedia talents to include DLNA networking, though. Indeed, the set doesn't carry either Wi-Fi or a LAN port, so it also can't be taken online.
While the lack of DLNA/online support isn't a major deal on a budget TV, the missing LAN additionally alerts us to something else more troubling: there's no Freeview HD tuner. Hmm.
Hopefully the Finlux 42F7010 will have enough going on in the picture quality department to make the lack of any HD tuning easier to forget.
The 42F7010 is joined in the Finlux range by the 42S7010 series, which adds 3D conversion and 100Hz processing to proceedings, while other 3D sizes include a trio of 32-inch Finlux models (starting at just £329.99 for the 32F703), and the 47-inch 47S7010.
It must also be stressed here that if the Finlux 42F7010 sounds interesting to you, you'll need to act reasonably swiftly, because Finlux has announced that it plans introduce a new version, the 42F7020. However, we would anticipate the Finlux 42F7010 sticking around longer on third-party sites such as Play.com.
Mind you, from a quick look at the specs to the upcoming Finlux 42F7020, it doesn't seem as if there are many significant differences anyway - except that the new model appears as if it's going to ship with two pairs of 3D glasses!
Our harsh and headache-inducing past experiences suggest that really cheap TVs can struggle to produce an enjoyable passive 3D picture. But while it's certainly not without its faults, the Finlux 42F7010 certainly isn't unwatchably awful by any stretch of the imagination.
The main reason for this at least gentle positivity is that the Finlux 42F7010 delivers fairly emphatically on at least some of passive 3D's technological advantages.
For instance, donning the lightweight glasses causes only the most minor reduction in the brightness of the set's pictures. This in turn means you can still enjoy very vibrant and rich colour tones while watching 3D, rather than having to suffer the often significant drop off in colour punch you get with most active 3D TVs.
The lack of any shuttering technology in the Finlux 42F7010's passive glasses also means you don't have to put up with any distracting and fatiguing flickering effects, even if you find yourself watching 3D in a very bright room.
Passive 3D tech has a couple of significant downsides too, though. First, 3D Blu-rays don't look quite as detailed and HD as they do on good active 3D TVs. And second, you are sometimes aware of horizontal line structure while watching 3D footage, especially over bright, contoured edges.
However, while the Finlux 42F7010 isn't immune to these flaws, its relatively small 42-inch screen size does make them harder to spot unless you stick your head right up to the screen. Which is not, of course, something that anyone in their right mind would want to do under any normal circumstances.
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A much more significant 3D failing of the Finlux 42F7010 is its susceptibility to crosstalk double ghosting noise.
This is generally not a problem with passive 3D technology. Indeed, passive 3D inventor LG always says freedom from crosstalk is one of the system's biggest advantages. Yet it consistently reared its ugly, distracting head with all sorts of 3D footage on the Finlux 42F7010.
Admittedly the crosstalk's impact is reduced by the way it's restricted pretty much exclusively to objects in the mid or far distance rather than also besmirching foreground objects. But it's still a disappointment, and provides more evidence that crosstalk only disappears with passive 3D technology if the panel inside a passive 3D TV is of a high quality.
While on the subject of crosstalk, we're also duty-bound to report that the Finlux 42F7010 exhibits passive 3D technology's familiar failing whereby crosstalk suddenly becomes excessive if your viewing position finds your head at an angle of more than around 13 degrees above or below the screen.
The other issue with the Finlux 42F7010's 3D images is that their otherwise decent level of sharpness and clarity can fall down when there's a lot of motion in the picture.
The set doesn't carry any significant motion processing tools, which can mean in 3D mode that objects pass across the screen in a pretty juddery fashion. As well as making the picture look less clean, this judder also seems to reduce the 3D depth effect.
The Finlux 42F7010 is a solid 2D performer. Pictures still enjoy the brightness and punch noted with 3D viewing, while HD sources look sharper than would normally be expected from such a cheap 42-inch TV.
The judder noted in 3D mode is still there, but it feels markedly less pronounced, and as such is certainly preferable in our minds to the sort of heavy-duty blurring all too commonly found on budget LCD TVs.
Also easier to spot in 2D mode is the Finlux 42F7010's surprisingly respectable black level performance. Sure, there's always a degree of greyness visible during dark scenes, but it's not bad at all by budget TV standards, and doesn't lead to too much shadow detail getting crushed out.
The biggest disappointment with the Finlux 42F7010's 2D pictures is their colours. No matter how much we tried tweaking the available colour settings, we just couldn't end up with a palette that looked totally convincing in tone or well-balanced, with some tones standing out more aggressively from pictures than others.
It actually felt to us as if colours looked more credible in 3D mode, with Finlux's glasses on!
The Finlux 42F7010 additionally proves a pretty uninspiring upscaler of standard definition sources, leaving them looking very soft and noisy as it goes about translating them to its screen's Full HD resolution.
The final problem with the Finlux 42F7010's pictures is that they're very viewing angle dependent. Watch from a horizontal angle of any more than around 30 degrees, and both contrast and colour suffer heavily.
Putting the Finlux 42F7010's audio through its paces, Finlux's television proves a fairly typical budget flatscreen TV effort. Which is to say, not very good.
It handles simple chatty material well enough, but anything that dares to add a bit of bass, rich music or multiple audio layers to proceedings ends up sounding compressed to the point of harshness.
Finlux set itself a tough task with the 42F7010. There's no doubt that building a decent quality 3D TV, even if you use less demanding passive (rather than active) 3D technology, is no walk in the park.
The set does its best to get you in a good mood from the off, though, by sporting a half-decent design and a surprisingly full set of connections that even includes support for multimedia playback from USB and recording to USB HDDs from the TV's Freeview tuner.
By the standards of many budget 3D TVs, it does a fair to middling job with 3D too, only undermining the punch and sharpness of its pictures with some crosstalk noise and motion judder. It's an inconsistent 2D performer, though.
The Finlux 42F7010 catches your eye right away with its £450 price, which really is low for a 42-inch 3D TV. Especially one that ships with eight pairs of 3D glasses.
Its level of multimedia support is good for its price level too, and in some ways it gives you more in performance terms than you've a right to expect, with punchy colours, plenty of brightness, minimal motion blur and flicker-free 3D.
Not having a Freeview HD tuner will be a turn off to many potential buyers, and so will the set's somewhat average 2D HD pictures and very soft standard definition pictures.
The set is at its best with 3D, but even here there are crosstalk and motion judder issues to consider.
On the evidence of the 42F7010, Finlux certainly can't be accused of lacking ambition. Combining multimedia playback and 3D support with a 42-inch TV going for under £450 is definitely a move that will have consumers and rival brands alike sitting up and taking notice.
Its lack of a Freeview HD tuner hurts it, though, and its performance is ultimately too hit and miss to make the TV something we can wholeheartedly recommend - even though it's better overall than some of the other mega-cheap 3D TVs that have come our way.
The most direct rival for the Finlux 42F7010 is probably the Cello C42T71DVB. This uses old-school CCFL illumination in place of the Finlux 42F7010's Edge LED system, but it manages to produce a solid contrast and colour performance all the same.
It actually slightly betters the Finlux with 3D, but it only has four pairs of free 3D glasses, is a similarly uninspired 2D performer, and features one of the fattest rear ends ever seen on a 'flat' TV.