Smart televisions have been around for a few years now. But they have not flown off the shelves because they are both expensive and well, despite being smart, not that easy to use. Now, there is another beast to reckon with, and that is called 4K. Just when all of us thought we had future-proofed ourselves with FullHD TV comes comes 4K, which is at least four times better picture quality. Here is everything you need to know while buying a TV in 2015.
Should you buy 4K?
Of course, if you can afford it. Otherwise, just wait for more 4K content to become available and the televisions to become cheaper. They are already much compared to the Rs 15 lakh plus figures they were launched at, but they should come under Rs 1 lakh soon. Also, for now there are very few 4K channels that beam content in ultra high resolution. Videocon d2h, for instance, has one channel that beams the same thing over and over again. So wait.
Philips 8500 series 58-inch 4K Ultra HD LED TV
Price: Rs 2,35,000
The Philips 8500 series has been built to impress and is a stunner in every sense of the term. The first thing that will hit you is the 16:9 ratio of the screen that will set it apart from the other big screens. The TV has a very thin bezel and a stylish metal stand, both of which make it easy to blend this large screen into the rest of your home. Read our full review here.
A big pain point is having to use a dumb remote to control a smart TV. Philips has found a go around by offering a full keyboard at the back of its large remote and this makes life much easier.
The TV has a very innovative Ambilight at the back of the screen with a whole lot of controls available for the lights right from colour selection to different modes. The light is best kept static at a low intensity or you will be looking at the lights more than the TV.
I stick to my belief that 4K TVs are better than natural vision, at least my vision. I was equally impressed with the broadcast content that I tested on the Videocon d2h 4K channel as well as on YouTube. There is the option to watch 3D or transform 2D content to 3D. Results are good, though I have always ended up with a headache at the end of a 3D session.
Smart features on the TV are really easy to access. The pre-loaded apps don’t have an India focus, but the fact that you can play 4K content on the YouTube app just makes this television much more relevant.
But given the size of the television and the quality of the pictures, the audio just does not match up. I would have loved the speakers to be a bit more loud. You might need to invest in better speakers to really enjoy this telly better. Even 1080p content is not good enough for a 4K screen so there is no way you are going to enjoy regular content on this one. And there is no abundance of 4K content.
Other option: Samsung SUHD 65-inch curved TV for Rs 3,14,900
Intex 42-inch FHD LED TV
Now, we go to the other end of the scale. Yes, you would not really look at Intex as a TV brand, but the price of this screen will make it an easy decision for those on a budget. It is around 25 per cent cheaper than larger brands and does not have major issues if you are willing to showcase a local brand in your living room.
The 42-inch FullHD display quality is really good. The colours are vibrant and the black really deep. Even 720p content looked good on the screen. This is important as most of the content in homes is 720p beamed through the set top boxes.
The TV comes with a plug-and-play USB movie option that could handle most file formats comfortably. The remote has all the controls needed for the playback. It also plays music, pictures and even text files.
But the remote feels a bit cheap and has a slightly confusing layout, made worse by the fact that the labeling is very hard to read. The media player software is a bit outdated.
Other option: Vu 42-inch 4K UHD SMART LED TV for Rs 42,000
What is 4k UHD?
There are many standards for 4K resolution. But TV mostly stick to ultra-high-definition (UHD) resolution of 3840×2160. It is double the resolution of FullHD, which is 1920x1080p. Most of the content now is 720p and our older CRT televisions were 480p at best.
Making TVs smart
There are many options to make a dumb flat screen really smart. Often this is a much better value proposition.
Google Chromecast (Rs 2,999)
This plug-n-play device can make any TV with an HDMI port smart by mirroring content from your laptops and smartphones. There are a host of Chromecast compatible apps on the Google Play Store and all that content can be played on the big screen seamlessly.
Teewe 2 (Rs 2,399)
An Indian version of the Chromecast, this device can also play content that has been stored in other connected devices. However, for now it is stuck with beaming only YouTube content and has announced a tie-up with ErosNow for more titles. For other content, you can stream websites from PC using the Chrome Plugin. A bit buggy in comparison to Chromecast.
HOOQ (Rs 199 per month)
Use this VOD service to access over 15,000 titles in English and Indian languages on your TV. HOOQ does not have a smart TV app yet, but you can stream content from your smartphone or tablet wirelessly or using a HDMI or MHL cable.
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