Being a man of simple tastes (yes, I’m not rich), I decided to treat myself to a gift that I’ve been wanting for a while for my 30th birthday. An extra 5 inches… on my TV screen.
Ok, technically what I had before wasn’t a TV. It was an old but relatively large 27 inch Samsung P2770 monitor. This monitor was hooked up to a media box, PS3, and Logitech 2.1 sound system and has served me quite faithfully, but I wanted something slightly bigger so that I could host movie nights at home.
I’d been keeping an ear to the ground so when I heard that Makro had a 32 inch LCD Sinotec LCD going for R2800, I immediately started to do my research on the brand. This first thing that I discovered is that there isn’t much information online about Sinotec TVs but I managed to track down some technical specifications for the model I was interested in:
- 32″ LCD
- Resolution 1920 x 1080
- Aspect Ratio 16:9
- Brightness 250nits
- Contrast 3000:1
- Response Time 6.5ms
- 3 HDMI connectors
- Updated information: 5 year warranty
This screen actually looked fairly decent, at least on paper. I decided to see if I could find any Sinotec reviews.
Actual reviews for Sinotecs were few and far between, but there was some information posted on a few local message boards. The general impression I got from these posts was that Sinotec produces decent screens at a reasonable price. Today I am here to tell you that, for the most part, this is true.
We picked up the Sinotec from Makro, and of course the first thing I did was open the box and throw all the manuals to the side. I then tried to put together the stand so that it could stand on it’s own two… errrrr, one foot. I looked at it and was a bit perplexed. How was this supposed to clip together? It took me a few seconds to notice the four screw holes at the bottom of the stand. I wondered why this was the case considering all my Samsung screens have clip on bases but I suppose you get what you pay for. After rummaging through the manuals I found a small bag with four screws that you use to manually attach the base to the TV. I won’t lie, this is annoying when you’re mostly used to dealing with Samsung hardware that clips easily together, but it’s not a huge problem.
I put it side by side with the Samsung to compare the size. As you can see below it was a reasonable step up.
So after I attached the base, I moved it to the spot where my old Samsung used to be and connected it to my media center. I was also very happy to discover that it had multiple HDMI connectors, which meant that I could also hook up my PS3 without having to do any hotswapping.
I also took the time to quickly compare the depth of the screen, and was pleased to note that most of the monitor is only a little bit thicker than a PS3 game box near the edges. The screen does bulk out near the middle, but overall it’s mostly thinner than my old Samsung 27″.
Again, being so used to Samsung screens which have their controls on the bottom, it took me a while to figure out that the buttons were located on the right hand side of the screen. Once I turned it on, it took a few seconds to “boot up” but it’s not long enough to be annoying. With the screen on I used the buttons located on the side to try and configure the TV, and this is where I came across my first hurdle. The way the buttons are used to navigate the menus don’t make much sense. I found it so confusing trying to figure out how to navigate the menus that I actually had to get the manual. Even with the manual, I still found it very unnatural. At this point I decided to walk to the shops to buy batteries for the remote. Getting the TV up and running with the remote was a far simpler process.
The actually configuration settings are fairly standard, including video, audio, and OS settings, which is to be expected considering this is a low-end screen.
After figuring out which HDMI source my media box was hooked up to, I wanted to get a good idea of the picture quality. I opened up a few high resolution images I had and was very impressed by the quality of the still image. The colours looked good, and being a 1080p panel, the image didn’t have any issues with scaling. Now this is all well and good, but how does it actually handle a 1080p video? I’m pleased to report that it handles video well. At a normal viewing distance there are absolutely no visible ghosting or screen tearing issues. It also upscales lower resolution video as well as can be expected. Gaming was also smooth without the lag a lot of other cheaper LCDs exhibit.
One of my readers asked if the USB port on the TV supported video, something I hadn’t bothered to check since I have a media box. I am pleased to announce that it does support video and also supports MKVs natively. This is quite a welcome surprise considering some of my friend’s older higher end TVs don’t do this. It also natively supports images, music, and certain types of text documents.
Unfortunately, while the screen itself has no issues, the same can’t be said for the speakers. The speakers that are built into this unit are… how do I put this politely… shit. Honestly, it sounds like someone is playing the audio through their cellphone, just at a much higher volume. After trying to fiddle with the settings on the TV I came to the conclusion that the speakers were just that bad and decided to hook up my old 2.1 Logitech sound system. I played another video and breathed a sigh of relief as the sweet audible nectar poured from my two speakers and subwoofer.
Overall, I am very pleased with my first Sinotec purchase. The image quality was miles ahead of other brands in the same price range (such as JVC, Sansui, and Hisense), and I didn’t notice any visible difference between the Sinotec and other more expensive brands (such as LG, Samsung, and Sony). However, the firmware and speakers on the more expensive TVs were much better when compared to the Sinotec. Considering the R1000 (roughly $100) price difference, this was more than acceptable. So if you are looking for a good quality screen on a budget, and can either afford to buy new speakers or have a spare set lying around at home, then I can easily recommend picking up the Sinotec 32″ FHD LED TV STL-32VN28F.