At this point, before finding out how the C42T71 performs, it’s worth reflecting that while it’s a shame Cello’s set lacks a few key features, you can at least understand the brand’s thinking. For if it had added, say, online functionality or a Freeview HD tuner, the price would inevitably have risen. And in doing so it would likely have deprived Cello of the headline grabbing claim that its new set is the cheapest big-screen 3D TV available in the UK today.
Starting the performance section of this test with, of course, the C42T71’s 3D performance, it’s a mixed bag. On the upside, the three biggest benefits of using passive technology are immediately and smile-inducingly apparent. First, the glasses are extremely light. Second, watching the passive 3D pictures is relaxing and flicker-free. And third, 3D images are much more dynamic, bright and richly coloured than those you get with active shutter glasses.
These are all significant advantages, especially if you’re viewing in a bright, family room. And that’s before we’ve even considered that you get four pairs of glasses for free.
However, the C42T71’s 3D picture performance isn’t all perfect. For a start, it demonstrates claims that passive 3D images are ‘crosstalk free’ are simply not true. Even sitting directly opposite the screen there’s clear evidence of crosstalk in pictures, almost always where very bright objects sits right next to dark ones.
To be fair, the crosstalk doesn’t occur as often as it can on some active sets, but it can be quite severe whenever it does appear. And in keeping with all passive 3D screens, if you watch from any more than 10-12 degrees above or below, crosstalk levels go through the roof. This could make wall-hanging the set a non-starter.
If you’re sat as close to the TV as we like to sit when watching 3D, you can also see some minor jaggedness around the edges of bright, curved objects. This is caused by the physical structure of the 3D filter applied to the screen’s surface. But it is not as obvious as it is on larger passive 3D TVs, and from a distance of more than 2.5-3m, you’ll struggle to see it at all.
It’s also the case that the C42T71’s passive 3D technology prevents the set from producing a full HD resolution 3D image, even from 3D Blu-rays. But again, the way your eyes combine the two images together does mean you end up with an image that at least looks more detailed than a normal standard definition picture, and the impact of the passive detail reduction (versus active 3D) is again not as pronounced on a 42in screen as it would be on a much larger one.
One final issue with the C42T71’s 3D performance is that while its colours are exuberantly bright, they sometimes feel a little off-key in tone, especially where rich reds and deep greens are concerned.
Overall, though, we’d characterise the C42T71’s 3D pictures as more than presentable for a £450 42in TV. Shame, then, that it’s such an average 2D performer.