British TV manufacturer Cello was the first company to bring a TV to market that had built-in support for the BBC's iPlayer service. Now it's among the first to make 3D technology an affordable option with its 42-inch C42T71DVB-3D TV, which is priced at around £435.
The TV uses passive technology to deliver 3D pictures and comes with four pairs of glasses. So is it the ideal 3D telly for cash-strapped families?
Design and connections
Budget brands rarely excel when it comes to product design and sadly this Cello set is no different in this regard. Its chassis is huge, measuring 112mm deep and the bezel on the front of the screen is very thick at 38mm. The chassis is made entirely from plastic and doesn’t feel anywhere near as sturdy as TVs from bigger name manufacturers such as Panasonic and Sony.
Nevertheless, the piano-black finish on the front doesn’t look too bad from a distance and thankfully the Cello logo on the bottom part of the bezel has been kept relatively small. Overall, though, the design is not going to leave anyone drooling at the mouth.
The remote is big and chunky. It's a little larger than the Sky HD remote and features a good deal more buttons. Although the layout initially looks quite busy, the buttons are actually quite well placed, so you don't find yourself juggling it around in your hand to get at certain features. The rubberised back makes it comfortable to hold. We like the way Cello has made it easy to set it up to control an external set-top box, including Sky HD.
The TV's line-up of connections is split between a panel on the rear of the TV and one that's mounted on the left-hand edge. On the rear you'll find two HDMI ports, a set of component inputs, a scart socket and a VGA connector. The side panel is home to the USB port as well as phono AV inputs and a s-video port. Two HDMI inputs is very stingy for a 42-inch set; if you have more HD devices than just a set-top box and games console, you're going to waste time plugging and unplugging HDMI leads.
User interface and electronic programme guide
The Cello C42T71DVB-3D's user interface is, perhaps not unexpectedly, quite basic. It doesn't have the flashy animations or neat transitions that you'll find on the latest Sony and Samsung models. However, the simple nature of the menus and their flat structure makes them pretty straightforward to use. When you hit the menu button you're presented with a row of icons across the top for stuff like the tuning, picture and sound options. As you select each icon, the menu entries related to it appear beneath.
You're not given a great deal of control over the various settings, though. For example, in the picture menu you can adjust the noise reduction level and tweak the usual contrast, brightness, colour and sharpness settings, but more advanced picture tweaking options are absent.
The set's EPG is a little bit unusual too. It only covers the right-hand side of the screen, and when you initially call it up it simply shows a vertical list of the channels with the programs that are currently showing on each one. If you want to see what's coming up over the rest of they day you have to press another button on the remote, which is a tad long-winded.
We'd prefer a standard horizontal layout, to be honest, as it's quicker to navigate. That said, once the list of programmes does appear you can skip quickly around them to set up reminders and the like. Also, the now and next information is nicely presented, as it runs across the whole bottom of the screen. You don’t have to scroll down to read more of the programming info, as you do on some sets.
Digital media and internet features
Although the remote control for the TV has a button on it for internet services, this doesn't actually do anything when pressed, as the set lacks any internet features. This is a bit of a shame, especially as Cello was the first TV company to produce a set that had built-in support for iPlayer. It doesn't support digital media streaming either as there’s no ethernet port.
However, if you have a look down the left-hand side you'll find a single USB port next to the AV phono inputs. The good news is that this USB port can be used for playing back digital media files and the format support is actually better than many of the TVs that we see from big name manufacturers. The C42T71DVB-3D handles a range of different video files, including Divx, Xvid and 720p MKV files without any problems, and it also supports MP3 and WMA music tracks, Jpeg images and even simple text files.
The interface for the media player is very basic. You're just presented with four icons for the music, videos, pictures and text features and when you select one of these you're shown a simple file browser. You can line up a playlist of different tracks or video files, and there are preview windows for videos and photos, but that's pretty much your lot.
The second piece of good news, though, is that the USB port also allows the TV to double up as a simple personal video recorder (PVR). You'll need to format your memory key or hard drive to get this to work, but once it's been formatted by the set you can either just hit the record button to start immediate recording of the show you're watching or alternatively schedule shows to record via the set's EPG.