Finlux’s latest Ultra HD TV may be insanely cheap, but John Archer finds there’s a price to pay with its picture quality
The arrival of UHD is proving a great new opportunity for affordable TV brands such as Finlux; those that had started to find it difficult to achieve significant price advantages in the HD world compared to the leading TV brands. This 49in Finlux Ultra HD TV, the 49UT3E310B-T, sells for around £450, a tempting price when compared to the more expensive offerings from Japanese and Korean rivals. But is it really a bargain?As well as looking quite dashing for a ‘budget’ TV – there’s a neat glinting silver trim around the black screen frame – it’s well connected for its money. The four HDMIs all support 60Hz 4K and the HDCP 2.2 protocol required by Ultra HD Blu-ray. There’s no HDR support, but Ultra HD BDs play fine; you just get the resolution without the HDR.
A trio of USB inputs handle multimedia playback from storage devices or recording from the built-in Freeview HD tuner. There are Wi-Fi/Ethernet network options for streaming from networked DLNA devices or accessing Finlux’s connected features. These include, surprisingly, 4K streaming via Netflix and YouTube, as well as HD from the BBC iPlayer. You get Facebook and Twitter apps too, along with a web browser, iConcerts and a few standard information apps. Yet there’s no support for Amazon Video or the ITV Player, All 4 or Demand 5 catch-up platforms. But it seems churlish to complain at this price.
Also a bonus for its money is the set’s support for 3D. This uses the user-friendly passive system, and is supported by no less than eight pairs of free 3D glasses.
Not a 4K superhero
While the 49UT3E310B-T does more than enough for its money in feature terms, the wheels come off with its pictures. For starters, it doesn’t make nearly as much of its native 4K resolution as you’d hope. As Spidey swings across town in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on Ultra HD Blu-ray there’s clear resolution loss over both the swinging superhero and, if there’s any accompanying camera movement, the background buildings. Even with the relatively static footage in the Parker household, detail in the actors’ faces and hair doesn’t hit the way it should. Nor does the TV reveal the filmic grain this Ultra HD Blu-ray contains.
The 49UT3E310B-T struggles to elicit the sort of contrast I now expect from 4K screens. During the climactic fight sequence with Electro the night sky appears washed out and grey, and where there’s light towards the centre of a mostly dark image I could see distracting backlight clouding and colour tone inconsistency. The backlight also causes shadowy banding during camera pans across daytime New York.
These backlight problems occur, moreover, despite the fact that the TV’s pictures are pretty dull and short of colour vibrancy. This isn’t a great option for a bright room.
Looking hard for things the 49UT3E310BT’s pictures get right, colours are balanced and reasonably subtly toned. Also, considering the TV’s contrast foible, there’s quite a lot of shadow detail in dark ASM2 scenes.
With the 3D Blu-ray of Mad Max: Fury Road, meanwhile, the passive 3D system dodges the flicker and ghosting often seen with active sets. There’s a decent sense of scale to 3D images too – though before anyone thinks I’m talking about a 3D masterclass, the lack of brightness and colour vibrancy can leave the format feeling a little uninvolving, and there’s significant judder during Mad Max’s endless action sequences. There’s also the resolution-slashing nature of passive 3D to contend with.
There’s a surprisingly effective 2 x 10W sound performance here. Add in the fairly solid smart platform and affordable nature and the 49UT3E310B-T’s has obvious appeal. But the various problems where it really counts – image quality – make it impossible to recommend this TV to anyone seeking a shortcut to Ultra HD heaven.
The 49UT3E310B-T ticks a surprising number of up-to-date feature boxes, but picture quality ultimately makes it feel dated.
3D: Yes. Passive 4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160 TUNER: Yes. Freeview HD CONNECTIONS: 4 x HDMI; 3 x USB; 1 x Ethernet; 1 x RF tuner input; 1 x Scart; 1 x VGA PC port; 1 x optical digital audio output; 1 x subwoofer output; 1 x component input; 1 x composite video input SOUND: 2 x 10W BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 350 nits CONTRAST RATIO (CLAIMED): 1,200:1 DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,100(w) x 636(h) x 65(d)mm WEIGHT: 13.5kg OTHER FEATURES: BBC iPlayer, 4K Netflix and YouTube support; DLNA streaming; USB recording/playback; HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 support.