Lots of the big brands this year are making a song and dance about the fancy new online talents they’re building into their latest TVs. But the truth is that they’ve all been beaten to the punch by a much smaller brand. A smaller brand which, moreover, heralds not from Korea, Japan or Taiwan, but good old Blighty.
That brand is Cello Electronics - a company started in 2001 in the North of England, which now boasts a turnover of £40m and came in 42nd on this year’s Sunday Times Tech Track 100 list of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies.
Normally I wouldn’t go into so much detail about the company behind a product I’m reviewing. But the Cello iViewer C3298DVB I’m looking at today is only the second product we’ve ever seen from the brand (the first being the Cello C1973F iPod dock/TV combi last year), so I figured it might be a good idea to make it clear that Cello certainly isn’t some fly by night company pumping out piles of rough and ready TVs from some far-Eastern factory.
Cello, by comparison, prides itself on the amount of time and effort it puts into R&D - as can be seen by the genuinely innovative nature of the two products we’ve seen from them so far. Strange, then, that the 32in iViewer C3298DVB I tested doesn’t actually have Cello’s brand logo on it. In fact, contrary to the Cello-sourced photos of the TV shown with this feature, it doesn’t have any logo at all; there’s just a glossy black bezel with a slightly separated inch-deep speaker bar hanging off the bottom.
Does this odd state of affairs mean Cello is somehow embarrassed about the iViewer C3298DVB? Actually, no. The reason for the lack of an obvious brand name is that the set is being sold exclusively through Marks and Spencer, with M&S even calling it the 'M&S 32in iViewer Full HD LCD TV' on its website - as if it’s all the store’s own work. Clearly M&S decided it didn’t want to confuse/worry its special punters by leaving a relatively unknown brand name on there.
But that’s quite enough back story. It’s high time I got back to the online capabilities mentioned at the start of this review, before you all forget about the TV’s main 'hook'.
The thing is, the set carries an Ethernet port that you can use to connect to the Internet. And once you’ve done that, you can then access a whole host of ring-fenced online content using a specially designed, widget-based Onyx interface from another British company, Oregan Networks. This is pretty cool in itself, but the real headline feature of the iViewer C3298DVB is that among the content you can access you will find - drum roll please - the much-loved BBC iPlayer service.