Review Price free/subscription
Rather more important for most of the C1973F's target market will likely be its standard definition handling. And in this respect it actually does reasonably well, at least to the extent that it rescales standard definition to its native resolution without emphasising/adding video noise, or - thankfully - making the picture's aspect ratio look uncomfortable or forced.
The C1973F's DVD deck is respectable, too. For a start, the side-mounted tray has a label on it telling you which way round your discs should be when you present them to the slot - a simply but genuinely helpful trick. Also, unlike the DVD-carrying Ferguson F2620LVD we tested back in March, the C1973F's DVD slot will actually suck in a disc that's presented to it regardless of whether the TV is already switched to DVD mode.
The deck can handle SVCD, VCD, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, picture CD, HD-CD and WMA discs as well as DVDs - though DivX isn't on the menu.
I was rather perturbed to note that the ‘TV Type' setting in the DVD deck's menus was set to 4:3 LetterBox when I got the C1973F out of the box, rather than 16:9. But otherwise DVD playback is straightforward, and delivered without generating the sort of MPEG or grain noise that's always a worry with cheap DVD decks.
Next on our test list, of course, has to be the iPod dock. Slotting my iPod nano in there - apparently all iPod and iPhones are supported - immediately causes the TV to switch to its iPod channel and connect with my player. I can then use the dock to charge the nano, and playback songs or movies through the TV - complete with track details appearing on the C1973F's screen. What's more, I can control all the key functions of my nano using the TV's remote control.
Now for the bad news. First, the screen uses the same puny onscreen menu/information text size found while trawling the setup menus, making it ridiculously tough to read all the options/track details from any more than a metre or so from the screen. It's enough to make you wonder if Specsavers have somehow sponsored the TV, in a bid to get more eye-strained punters through the door.
Second and worse, the TV's audio really is very average. Its claimed 2x6W of power delivers a thin, compressed and sibilant soundstage with iPods that sounds almost like the TV is adding another level of compression on top of that applied when you originally ripped your music.
The TV's sonics are a bit more comfortable with CDs and TV/films, though things still sound muddy under the slightest duress, and you'll be wincing regularly if you turn the volume too high.
The Cello/Soundwave C1973F certainly does a lot for its relatively budget price. It's just a pity that it doesn't do anything particularly well.
Still, while I personally might question the worth of such a performance-lite product, I have little doubt that there are plenty of casual users out there who will likely consider a basic performance level a perfectly acceptable price to pay for the C1973F's extreme convenience factor.
I'd also say the C1973F is at least interesting enough to make me keen to get my hands on Cello's new TVs that allow you to record TV onto SD cards… Watch this space.