The big picture

The big picture
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First Published: Tue, Nov 10 2009. 08 41 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Nov 10 2009. 08 41 PM IST
Walk into an electronics megastore, and you are likely to see high-definition television sets (HDTVs) along the walls. It’s tough to resist them. However, just as you start getting the hang of all the 720 and 1080 talk, and begin minding your Ps and Is, manufacturers start advertising more HDMI ports, and terms such as IPS and LED add to the muddle.
It’s time to reclaim your sanity. And perhaps, for a change, instead of being intimidated by all that jargon the salesmen throw at you, start asking them questions that will make them squirm and consult their manuals.
Here, we’re going to quickly cover a few things you should know before you buy an HDTV of any brand or size, to make sure you spend your money wisely, and don’t fall for all the misleading and perhaps confusing drivel.
Size actually does matter
Buy something that is suitable for your room size and viewing distance. A 32-inch HDTV is good enough for a viewing distance of up to 10ft. At 12ft or more, this display feels small; ideally a display should be large enough to capture a major part of your viewing area.
Previously, a large display viewed from too close appeared pixelated; but this is no longer an issue, thanks to higher resolutions. If your viewing distance is going to be greater than 10ft, consider a 42-inch HDTV. For anything more than 16ft, look at a 46-inch display. Obviously, your budget also matters, as larger displays are costlier, but these are the sizes you should look at for an optimal viewing experience.
High contrast ratio is nonsense
We are talking about the measured contrast ratio. We’ve tested such displays and noted that their “actual” contrast ratio is not more than 1,300:1.
For the record, anything more than 1,000:1 is good, and anything more than 1,500:1 is superb. Such specifications are overstated and the term “dynamic contrast ratio” is misleading because different methods, such as varying the backlight intensity or even measuring the contrast over a period of time (and not instantaneously, as is the proper procedure), are used.
Displays with a “static” contrast ratio of 1,000:1 are more than enough for a great viewing experience.
Generic statements are misleading
Avoid getting confused between “HD support”, “HD Ready”, “1080p supported” and other such statements. If you’re buying a display today, 1,080 pixels is the resolution you should look at. Every display with a screen size of 32 inches and above should support this resolution. Look for the phrase “native resolution”—this should be 1080p (1,920x1,080 progressively scanned pixels) and not lower.
Progressive scanning is a method wherein all the lines of each frame on a TV screen are drawn in sequence. This is in contrast to traditional television systems which show either the odd or even lines of each frame (each image now called a field).
Smaller TVs are no good
Many vendors are rushing to offer 19- and 22-inch HDTVs—these are not HDTVs in the truest sense and such displays typically use substandard LCDs. A true HDTV starts from at least 26 inches, so do not be caught shopping for anything smaller—save up a bit more if you have to, but resist buying these, even at rock-bottom prices.
‘In-plane switching’ (IPS) panels
Although brilliant, such panels are meant for image professionals owing to their colour accuracy. They don’t have the best contrast ratios for movies and games where absolute colour accuracy and a 100% colour gamut aren’t necessary.
PVA (patterned vertical alignment) panels are better for movies and games since their contrast ratio is superior, that is, the panel is capable of purer blacks and more variations in shade intensity.
How many ports do you need?
HDMI, or high-definition multimedia interface, connectivity is important, but all you need are one or two HDMI ports.
The latter in case you want to hook up two devices (such as a Blu-ray player and an Xbox 360) simultaneously. Do not spend lots more money on four or five HDMI ports—ask yourself if you’ll use all of them at the same time. Besides, you can get an HDMI switcher, which will allow you to connect many more HDMI devices, and just switch to the desired one when needed.
LCD or LED?
There is a common myth that “LCD TVs” and “LED TVs” are two different things.
This misnomer is generating a lot of hype. The fact is, LEDs are just the backlighting used; the display is still very much an LCD panel. Traditionally, CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) tubes were used for backlighting, but LEDs are more compact, brighter and consume less power, making it a win-win situation.
Obviously, this technique is pricier but better. Therefore, what is referred to as an “LED TV” is actually an “LED-backlit LCD display”. Technically, there is no such thing as an LED TV.
The Range
Samsung has brought to the market the all new Series 6 46inch LED backlit TV. This gives the conventional LCD TV a much slimmer and appealing form. That’s not the only thing—the TV boasts of a 200Hz refresh rate—though that’s not of much use these days. Although the specifications and figures might sound overrated, it’s also a good performer. The image is crisp and the colours are natural. Colour is also neutral and the contrast is pretty good. The slim design, coupled with the sleek glass stand, exudes raw sex appeal, a head turner in any company. We noticed that it gets pretty warm at
the back with some use, so that can be a little bit of a concern. The speakers aren’t as powerful as we’d like, though given the slimness, that is expected. At around Rs1.5 lakh, it’s well beyond the reach of many, but for an LED for which you don’t have to make too many compromises, it’s sure worth it.
Philips’ 42PFL7409/98 is one of those rare products that commands a hefty price tag of close to Rs1 lakh, but brings utter contentment to the buyer. The 42inch, 1080p HDTV features an elegant glass stand and an amazing glossy black finish. Overall, the build quality is exemplary. And the good features don’t stop here. How does a 3 millisecond response time sound? Add to that the goodness of a 100Hz LCD panel for crystal clear
output, even with fast motion scenes.
The high colour, high brightness (500 cd/m2), IPS (inplane switching) panel ensures you get the real picture, while Philips’ own Pixel Plus 3 HD engine offers advanced algorithms to ensure every possible type of picture, from cable TV to Bluray content, from text to games, looks as natural as possible. With four HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) ports, DSub, component and a built in TV Tuner, the 42PFL7409/98 is something that a buyer craving a good mix of performance and features should not miss. It’s priced at Rs94,990.
This LG Jazz comes finished in a glossy black fibre that has embedded red highlights
that give certain parts of the bezel an almost red wine like colour. All in all, the Jazz 42LG80FR looks a classy product and the retractable speakers provide a nice,
gimmicky touch.
Unfortunately, the stand of this huge TV is not very stable and we could actually tilt
the display 10 degrees forward and backward with the stand affixed. However, when it comes to performance, the 42LG80FR is a scorcher. It did well across the board with DisplayMate and excellently with 1080p content. The text rendition of this TV is clear and crisp—the detail makes reading even long documents a pleasure. Hook this up to your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and you are sure to keep raving about the experience. It’s a superb all rounder and is reasonably affordable at Rs60,000.
CONNECT
Must buy-Acer’s neo Touch phone
Acer has launched the neoTouch phone that sports the 1 GHz Snapdragon processor which powers its Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system. The large 3.8-inch resistive touch screen (65K colours, 480x800 pixels) comes with an accelerometer for autorotation, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor. Multimedia is a breeze with this one, as the neoTouch packs a 3.5mm headphone jack and stereo FM radio support to keep music aficionados happy, while pleasing the shutterbugs with a 5-megapixel camera (with auto focus, LED flash, geo-tagging and VGA video recording). It is priced at Rs35,000.
Go shooting with Sanyo camcorders
These simple-to-use camcorders from Sanyo come in a range of eye-catching colours, and can shoot 720p-resolution HD videos. The best little feature is the ability to directly upload videos on YouTube as long as there is Wi-Fi connectivity. The default storage is a little disappointing though—you will have only 40MB to play around with. You can pick a camcorder for Rs14,660.
HI-Tech—BenQ’s ULV notebook
BenQ has launched two new devices in the emerging ULV (ultra-low voltage) notebook market: the 1.5kg Joybook S35 (Rs37,199) and 2.1kg Joybook S43 (Rs40,399). While the S35 has a 13.3-inch screen, the S43 sports a larger 14-inch display. The larger display on the S43 is accompanied by a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 9600GT graphics card. Both the Joybooks feature superfast Wi-Fi, eSATA high-speed data transfer, and extra-long battery life. They run on Intel’s Pentium Dual Core SU4100 processors, and are pre-loaded with Windows 7.
Hybrid computers
Atom processors on Ion platforms make for too-tiny-to-believe computers. This new breed of computers is a hybrid between netbooks and desktops, called nettops. The specs are a modest 160GB hard drive, 2 GB RAM and a CPU that runs at 1.6 GHz. The Onkyo P3 can get even smaller if you just slide out the DVD-ROM. It costs Rs35,500.
Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Nov 10 2009. 08 41 PM IST