Finlux 55S9100-T review

Unbeatably priced but under-powered 3D TV

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Great Value

Any TV that puts BBC iPlayer, apps, 3D and Freeview HD on a 55-inch screen for under £1,000 has to be seriously considered, although we're not convinced that the Finlux 55S9100-T is the bargain big screen television it initially appears to be.

We liked

The remote control is well designed, if underpowered, and the user interface is at least functional. The media browser is easy to use, and file support is mostly impressive, as is network streaming. Freeview HD channels and 2D Blu-ray playback impress, while engaging 3D mode is a cinch. It's always good to see the BBC iPlayer and YouTube apps, too.

We disliked

The 'premium' design only just qualifies as such - it's a few years behind the times - and that impression carries on elsewhere. Disappointing 3D, ropey standard definition pictures and poor audio take some gloss away from its low price, while a paltry selection of apps and a generally slow, stubborn operation makes the Finlux 55S9100-T far from the slickest TV around. The images feature some judder and need some careful processing, but overall a TV of this size simply needs more grunt.

Final verdict

Underpriced but also underpowered, this attempt at a big screen TV bargain from Finlux would best suit someone who is desperate for as big a TV as possible to pair with a smart HD source such as a Sky+ box, TiVo or a Freeview HD recorder.

Granted, its provision of Freeview HD and BBC iPlayer are handy, but the Finlux 55S9100-T is slow to operate and its user interface is way behind the times. Despite this being a screen that's well-sized for 3D, it's with 2D that it excels. Those with this money to spend who are after pure picture quality but not interested in 3D would be wiser considering a 50-inch plasma.

Also consider

Forget finding another 55-inch LED TV that costs so little, but if you're set on such a large screen it would be wrong not to test drive a plasma TV, the most affordable - at around £1,300 (AU$2,065/US$1,977) - top quality option of which is the Panasonic TX-P55ST60B.

If money is less restricted, a top-end plasma is in order - and that means the Panasonic TX-P55VT50B, or the about-to-replace-it Panasonic TX-P55VT65B. Either way, a plasma TV such as this still - in our humble opinion - represents the last word in home cinema picture quality.

In the LED ranks is the affordable Panasonic TX-L55ET60, whose stylish good looks disguise a mid-range status. Our bias towards Panasonic as the most viable alternative to this Finlux 55-inch TV is primarily to do with price, but the brand has also developed the easiest to use, most feature-packed and most polished-looking smart TV platform in 2013.

However, there are some cracking LED-backlit choices at the high-end, but you'll need deep pockets. It's worth considering the Sony KDL-55W905A, which uses new Triluminos technology to deliver a much improved colour performance while preserving awesome contrast.

Other options include the Philips 55PFL6008 and Samsung UE55F8000, the latter of which produces one of the best images yet from a TV frame so small that you mostly forget it's there.