If there’s one thing Cello’s C42T71DVB-3D TV certainly does not look, it’s cutting edge. Its chunky black bezel reeks of budget plastic, and its rear end sticks out so far by today’s standards (comfortably over 100mm) that for a minute we thought rear projection technology was back from the dead.
In reality, though, Cello’s new 42in LCD TV breaks new ground. For it brings big-screen LCD 3D to the UK at a new, low price point: just £450. What’s more, it underlines its potential value appeal by including no less than four pairs of 3D glasses.
This indicates right away that the Cello’s 3D talents are of the passive variety. In other words, the British brand has turned to LG’s film patterned retarder (FPR) polarising filter TV technology for its aggressively priced 3D debut.
As we’ve explained in previous reviews, the passive approach comes with performance strings attached. But as we’ve also noted before, passive 3D’s relative affordability and some aspects of its performance make it a potentially cracking option for casual AV types - especially if they have a kid or two to entertain. More on all this later.
Casting your eye down the C42T71’s spec sheet, it becomes apparent that getting 3D onto a sub-£450 TV has required some fairly significant compromises elsewhere. For a start, as we’d suspected given the depth of the set’s rear, Cello’s TV uses ‘old’ CCFL technology rather than LED lighting. Next, it doesn’t carry a Freeview HD tuner - all you get is a standard definition one.
The screen is a resolutely 50Hz affair too, with no motion processing, and picture adjustments generally are limited. Really the only things worth mentioning are noise reduction and the facility to adjust the relative saturations of the red, green and blue colour elements.
One of the most unforgivable absentees from the C42T71’s options is a pixel to pixel aspect ratio setting. This means that even when you’re watching HD, the screen still applies overscanning, rather than allowing HD images to appear translated exactly to each pixel in the 1920x1080 screen.
The set’s connections are pretty lightweight, too. There are only two HDMIs, and there’s no Ethernet port or Wi-Fi for accessing either online services or files stored on a DLNA PC.
The set isn’t a total dead loss in multimedia terms, though. It sports a D-Sub PC port, as well as a single USB capable of playing a wide selection of file formats including AVI, MOV, MKV, WMA, MP3, WAV, AAC and AVCHD.
Actually, much to our surprise the USB can also record programmes from the DVB tuner to USB drives. Even better, these recordings aren’t restricted to the TV; you can take the USB drive out and play recordings back on other devices so long as they can support the .ts file type. This is very unusual, and very cool.
Using the C42T71 isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience. For a start, the set’s autotuning takes forever to do its work. Worse, its remote control is pretty horrible, thanks to an over-busy, poorly conceived layout, and some rubbery, unresponsive buttons. The TV didn’t prove very sensitive at picking up transmissions from the remote either, and the onscreen menus look old-fashioned to say the least. The navigation system for the menus seems almost wilfully obtuse at times, too.