You may not have heard of Finlux but you're likely to be hearing a lot more from them. Now under Vestel ownership, which makes a lot of own-brand TVs for supermarkets, it's selling direct to the public via Finluxdirect.com.
I was impressed by the 32-inch 3D-enabled Finlux 32F703, which offered good value for money. Can the company pull off the same trick with the much larger 47-inch 47S7010? This model also offers passive 3D support, yet is priced at a bargain basement £570.
User interface and EPG
The menus on the 47S7010 are best described as functional rather than flash. They lack the cool transitions and funky graphics you'll find on the latest Samsung TVs, for example. Instead, when you hit the menu button on the remote, you're greeted with a row of icons running across the middle of the screen giving you access to functions like the picture and sound settings, tuning controls and the channel list.
Each sub-menu just consists of a flat list of editable options and there aren't any descriptions to give you an idea of what the more advanced picture settings do, which is a shame. The picture tweaking options do extend beyond the bare basics though. Along with the standard contrast and colour controls, you can adjust the red and green balance, change the colour temperature and switch the backlight intensity between low, mid and high.
Unfortunately, this model uses the same style electronic programme guide (EPG) as the 32F703. The problem is, when you call up the EPG, it only shows you what's on now and what's coming up next. To see the full EPG, you have to press the yellow button on the remote from the 'now and next' view. This means that it's a two-button operation to get to the proper EPG when on most TVs you just press a single button. Also, you completely lose all audio and video from the programme you're watching when you open the EPG -- it doesn't have a video thumbnail window.
Another gripe emerges when you call up the small 'now and next' banner while watching a programme, rather than the full EPG -- there's no way to view details about the current show. On most TVs, hitting the Info button a second time calls up this information. The full EPG does at least use a standard bricks-in-the-wall style layout so it's easy to compare what's coming up on different channels and to spot any schedule clashes over an evening.
Video playback and Internet features
This model doesn't have an Ethernet port or Wi-Fi, which perhaps isn't surprising at this price. But it does have a digital media player and allows you to record TV shows from the onboard tuner to hard drives or memory keys plugged into one of the USB ports.
You can fire up the media player either by pressing a dedicated button on the remote or by selecting it from the main menu. Once activated, it presents you with a banner across the middle of the screen, with icons for accessing videos, photos, music and any recordings you've made using the personal video recorder (PVR) feature. When you enter these menus, you'll find the user interface is little more than a file browser.
Unfortunately, file support seems to be very limited. I couldn't get any of my Xvid or DivX files to play, even through the Finlux manual says that the TV supports Xivd playback. JPEG pictures and MP3 music tracks worked without any problems though.
If you plug a USB drive or key into one of the set's ports, you can start using the PVR features. Recordings can be scheduled via the EPG or you can hit record while watching to immediately start saving the show to disc. These are then tagged with the title of the show, so you don't end up with obscurely named files as you do on some other budget sets with these features. This model supports chase play too, so you can watch the start of a show while the end is still recording and you can pause live TV.
Design and connections
There's little to separate this TV's design from numerous budget sets you'll find down your local supermarket. The whole chassis is made from black plastic -- the rear sporting a matte finish and the front a polished black. The silver Finlux logo beneath the display is the only other detail. On the plus side, the bezel isn't too thick, measuring a fairly narrow 35mm. The thin LED backlighting has helped keep the chassis reasonably slim at 39mm too. But the set does look and feel very much like a budget model.