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Usability

The Finlux 55S9100-T isn't the easiest TV to use. The blame goes not to the rather basic user interface, but instead to the remote control. Although it's well designed in theory, it's not nearly as responsive as it should be. Granted, nor is the TV as powerful as it needs to be, and in many ways that proves that the current trend towards dual-core processors in smart TVs is an essential evolution.

The Finlux 55S9100-T has simply taken too much on. Its smart TV interface is slow to load, and when it does appear it has few apps available. OK, so the essential apps are here - including both the YouTube and BBC iPlayer ones - but the likes of Joomeo, CineTrailer, World of Red Bull, Viewster, Flickr, PlayJam, DailyMotion and AccuWeather are hardly essential.

Finlux 55S9100-T review

We're also far from sure that anyone needs Twitter or Facebook on a TV, but both are given a rather prominent place under the the smart TV interface's live TV thumbnail, as they are on many brands' smart TV platforms.

That last feature at least gives the Finlux 55S9100-T's smart TV interface one-up on the TV's built-in Freeview HD electronic programme guide (EPG). It shows 10 channels in a basic list, and schedules for two hours of TV, but to inspect it means cutting out both pictures and sound.

Finlux 55S9100-T review

It's another huge reason to consider the Finlux 55S9100-T only as a partner to a TiVo, Sky+ or similar set-top box, and thereby avoid relying too much on its user interface and built-in features.

That impression is further enhanced by the frequent freeze-ups, general slowness and plenty of inconsistencies (for example, the Exit button to back out of features is not always operational) that make the Finlux 55S9100-T an often frustrating TV to operate.

Finlux 55S9100-T review

What we do like about the remote control - as well as its sleek design - are the dedicated smart TV buttons, which include shortcuts to YouTube and the BBC interactive red button service, as well as to apps and the media browser.

The Finlux 55S9100-T's media browser itself is a mixed bag. The design is simple and clean, but file playback during our tests proved unpredictable. Video file support is initially impressive, with the likes of MOV, AVI, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 files all supported, but we did have trouble with MKV files. Some played perfectly (those created by DivX7), some not (DivXPlusHD), while others suffered from poor audio format support.

Finlux 55S9100-T review

These files can be scanned through at 8x speed, but aren't always stable and can look a tad jumpy. Wireless streaming over a home network worked fairly well from an iMac, though each file did take over 30 seconds to load.

Music suffers from the Finlux 55S9100-T having poor speakers, and only covers the MP3, M4A, WMA and WAV formats.

Value

Finlux 55S9100-T review

We've got few qualms about value on the Finlux 55S9100-T when judged against other Edge LED-backlit LCD TVs, especially since it's already been marked down from its initial full retail price of £1,299.99 (around AU$2,065/US$1,977).

At a penny under £1,000 (around AU$1,588 / US$1,520) it's comfortably the most affordable 55-inch TV of any technology we've seen, though there are other options.

Finlux 55S9100-T review

Buying Guide
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For instance, we know of a bevy of 50-inch plasma TVs - mostly from LG and Samsung - that sell for closer to £500. Most don't feature 3D, Full HD resolution or smart TV features, and are barely promoted by the Korean brands themselves. However, if you're merely after a DVD or gaming screen and are searching for the biggest pound-per-inch TV around, it's not Finlux that provides it.

Still, with all the premium features onboard - at least in their basic form - and with a design that no £500 plasma can match, the Finlux 55S9100-T is a decent value LED-backlit TV.