When we previewed the Soniq 40-inch Smart TV, we said that on paper the TV ticked a lot of the right boxes. Sadly, it turned out that in practice, some of these ticks were a little outside the margins, resulting in a fairly flawed product.
Let's look at the good stuff: for under AU$470, you're getting a pretty decent panel. It's not the sharpest we've seen, but for the price it's better than you might expect. Blu-ray playback was highly watchable, with fairly good blacks and crisp action scenes.
Playback from USB source was fairly simple, and the quality was decent (large AVI file), but not the cleanest we've seen. The remote, however, gets some bonus points for having a full QWERTY keyboard on the rear, without being oversized or particularly heavy. All good so far.
Sadly, one of the first issues we had with the Soniq was a particularly egregious design choice — there's a lip, for want of a better term, below the area for the various input ports, which makes it extremely difficult to plug anything in. In fact, we actually broke the plug housing on an older Belkin HDMI cable attempting to get it in — a task that we were ultimately unsuccessful in; we had to use a different cable.
The strange design choices around the HDMI port area.
In terms of the smart TV component, Soniq's Cinavision interface leaves a great deal to be desired. While the YouTube app works fine, as does the Facebook one if that's what you want, the home screen is confusing and the navigation is not particularly intuitive. The channels on offer aren't the most compelling, either (although Khmer Comedy had a strange sort of appeal). Also, the weather app on the home page kept giving us the temperature in Melbourne, even after we told it we were in Sydney.
We also found that when we ran a firmware update on the TV, it reset every single setting, requiring us to completely redo the set-up — from network settings right down to rescanning the TV channels in.
As a straight 40-inch TV, the Soniq performs well, although it's let down by the bizarre design choices. As a smart TV, it leaves a lot to be desired. Whether the AU$468 price tag is worth it just for the 40-inch panel is up to the individual, but we think a few hundred more can get you a far superior TV.