HDTV buying tips in India

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With the cricket world cup season coming up, many households in India are planning to upgrade to HDTVs. Coupled with the availability of a few HD channels in India and the telecast of all the cricket world cup matches in HD, sales of HDTV’s are at all time high in India.

If you are in the market looking for a HDTV, we have a few tips for you which will help you in making an informed decision.

Screen size:

This is a really important aspect of your purchase decision. I would advise you to go for the biggest screen your budget can afford. Since TV is something you do not change frequently, it’s a good idea to buy the biggest you can. However, do keep in mind the dimensions of the room you are going to be installing your TV in. There is no point in installing a TV which might look like an out of proportion giant in a small room. Usually 32” to 42” is the optimum size for most Indian rooms unless you have a really large hall. Also, starting with 32”, make sure that you have at least 6 – 7 feet of distance between you and the TV. Keep adding 2 feet for every size up. Although this might totally depend on your personal preference. Some people (especially gamers) prefer to sit closer to the TV.

LCD, LED or Plasma?

So here is the deal – LEDs are better than LCDs in all aspects. But note that both LEDs and LCDs use a LCD panel to display the images. The primary difference between the two is the backlighting. LCDs use fluorescent lamps (think CFLs) whereas LEDs use (duh) LED lamps (think LED torches, headlamps on that Audi SUV). Now LEDs are better than fluorescents in two primary ways – They are more brighter and their light is pure white (think natural sunlight). This is why images on a LED TV appear much more life like as compared that on a LCD, as you are seeing them as close as you would see them in natural sunlight. LEDs also probably consume lesser power than fluorescents.

Plasma is altogether a different technology which is advisable only if you are going for a 52” or higher sized TV. This is the size range where you will start seeing the difference between Plasma and LCD technology. Plasma is the winner in this area. However, do keep in mind that Plasma TVs consume more power than LCDs and also get much more heated up in comparison. But, they won’t shoot up your electricity bill exponentially or melt if you watch too much TV :D.

Full HD or HD Ready?

As I have stated in the past, there is absolutely no point in buying an HD ready TV at this time unless you are out of your mind. With 1080i HD channels available and prices of Blu Ray players dropping below the 10k INR price range, coupled with increasing popularity of gaming consoles in India, it would be totally insane to buy a HD ready TV at this time. Also, HD ready TVs are really difficult to find now a days in the 32” and above screen size category.

60Hz, 120Hz or 200Hz refresh rate?

Refresh rate is the number of times your TV draws the screen in one second. Note that this is not FPS (frames per second). FPS is relevant to the video source and refresh rate is relevant to the display. More the refresh rate, more blur free video output is. The sales guys will probably try to sell you 120Hz or higher refresh rate TVs claiming that with 60Hz you will see motion blur in sports telecasts and action movies. That’s total BS. 60Hz is enough for most people. And if you are part of the 90% of people who cannot differentiate properly between SD and HD, then you probably wouldn’t even notice the motion blur, even if it were to appear.

However, if you are an avid gamer who has (or is planning to get) either Xbox 360 or a PS3, and can differentiate between a Blu Ray rip and a Blu Ray, you should probably go for at least 120Hz. I am not sure if we even have any sources worth using with a >= 200Hz TV.

Ports:

You should get a TV with at least 3 HDMI inputs. The more the better. All HD capable devices in the market come with HDMI. It serves two purposes – HDMI carries High Def video and digital audio (think Dolby Digital, DTS, 5.1, 7.1) on a single cable, and also ensures that any HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) content that you might have plays on your TV.

Apart from HDMI, there will be at least 1 component, 1 composite and 1 antenna input in all TVs. Look for a TV with a RGB/DVI (computer input) and S – Video inputs. These are helpful if you want to watch any movie from your laptop. Also, see if you can buy one with an optical/coaxial digital audio out. This will be useful if you plan to connect your TV to a Home Theater system which accepts TOSLINK input. Having a digital audio out on your TV will let you pass through multichannel digital audio from the input source to your home theater without the need to run a separate such cable from the source to the Home Theater, hence saving you money on cables and reducing cable clutter in your setup.

3D TVs?

This is totally on your budget and your accessibility to 3D blu rays. If you have the money and have someone to source you 3D blu rays, go ahead and buy one!

Speakers?

Although HD content is best enjoyed with a 5.1 channel Home Theater setup, not everyone will have the room (and budget) for a home theater system. So, if you are not planning to buy a home theater system in the foreseeable future, go for a TV with good speakers (500 watts and above). Otherwise, I would recommend buying the one with the lowest wattage speakers (which will also be cheaper, giving you more cash to put in your Home Theater).

Wall Mount or Swivel stand?

If you have kids in the house, its probably a good idea to get the TV wall mounted. But note that once wall mounted, the TV will appear to be a few centimeters smaller than it will when its standing on a flat surface. This is totally an optical illusion thing and you should not worry about it. However, if you are living in a rented home and planning to wall mount the TV, its probably a good idea to check in advance with your landlord, as wall mounting involves drilling a few holes in the wall.

DTH, IPTV or Cable?

If you want to enjoy HD broadcast, currently, DTH is your only choice. IPTV and Cable boxes do not yet have any HD channels. Many DTH companies like TataSky & Reliance have also come up with HD PVR boxes at competitive prices that you might want to consider. You can check out a (little old, but still helpful) quick comparison of HD DTH services in India here.

Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic or some other home-appliance-turned-electronics-brand?

This is totally your choice. I have seen fanboys buying Sony TVs even when a better and cheaper option is available with Samsung or LG. All of them are mostly same. Sony of course has the wow factor (because of its brand, nothing to do with image quality). Panasonic is the leader in Plasma TVs and is trying hard to get in the LCD and LED game.

There might be other players in the market like Vu, Vizio, Videocon etc. I haven’t seen much of these brands used as mainstream electronics products. Also, we probably have no idea about their after sales service. So go for these only if you know what you are doing.

Thats it! If you keep the above points in mind, you can confidently go ahead and buy that HDTV you have always wanted. Hopefully the above tips will help you in making an informed decision.

[Image courtesy Jesper Voetmann]

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Comments

4 Responses to this post

  1. Amritash says:

    i m not buying right now but this is what i was looking for, nice info geeks.

  2. Bharat says:

    Excellent post Setu. Well written!!

  3. Saikat says:

    Good writeup. Please include some points in burn-ins / Image retension of Lcd vs Plasma and if possible try to cover some points on having a good DTH at home which gives some HD output so that one can enjoy their HD investment better. I am Anjur Mehrotra-s friend.

  4. Amit says:

    Awesome post!!! liked it very much!!!

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