New year, new home... Agent 001 goes out shopping for an HDTV
Agood friend is about to the tie the knot next month, and we’d been window shopping to check out stuff for his new place—a generous gift from his invest- ment broker dad. During our sojourn we chanced across a showroom with few flat screen panels on display. Like any good movie junkie, he was hooked—he wanted a flat screen and he wanted something big!
Flat panels are of two types—LCD and Plasma panels. Let’s bust a myth here: Plasma screens are actually better than LCD displays in general—they have better contrast ratios (1500:1 and better), and better, more natural colour tones. A plasma display will also display better blacks, and greater varieties of grey—all because of the improved contrast ratio. However, LCDs aren’t far behind, and the latest S-PVA panels sport improved contrast ratios from earlier MVA panels, while the cheaper TN panels play with the masses interested in some- thing cheaper. I also cautioned my friend not to look at the “dynamic contrast ratio” figure. In fact most panels’ contrast ratio won’t exceed 1500:1, though many advertised as 3000:1 will have an actual contrast ratio of around 800:1. An actual contrast ratio of 1000:1 ought to be sufficient for most users.
Also remember that LCDs get prohibitively costly after a certain size (42 inches or so), and this steep price hike hasn’t got anything to do with better performance—just a costlier manufacturing process. If you’re looking for a big screen—say 50 inches or so, then consider only a plasma panel—much better value for money. However, plasma screens aren’t made in sizes smaller than 50 inches, so if you’re looking for something around the 32-inch mark, then you’re stuck with nothing but LCD. Also remember that large screens look terrible at close range; 32 inches is plenty for a viewing distance of 12-18 feet, and 40 is better if you can put 20 or more feet between you and the TV.
A Samsung showroom had a couple of LCDs on display— one each from their costlier Bordeaux and cheaper Mosel models. The Bordeaux has a sleeker look and a higher con- trast panel and the 26-inch is priced at Rs 32,000, while the Mosel is priced at Rs 2,000 less. The 32-inch Bordeaux is a bril- liant deal at Rs 42,000. This showroom had EMI facilities avail- able, and my friend was all smiles. A 42-inch Samsung plasma screen was also available for Rs 55,000—a sweet deal if you want a plasma screen. We came across the same two LCDs at a large mall—and the salesman assured us he’d match the best price we got from anywhere after we scoffed at the higher quoted prices. The Sony Bravia 26-inch LCD was priced at Rs 33,000, while the 32-inch equivalent was Rs 8,500 more. The Bravia uses the same panel as the Bordeaux (both S-PVA panels) but has a better display processor. We also saw a 40 inch Bravia from Sony’s V “value” series—for Rs 89,990.
It seems the new LG Pearl Black is the new “in” thing. These TVs are as gorgeous as Samsung’s shapely Bordeaux, and decked in the same Pearl Black colour (the Bordeaux can be had in white too), and the swivel portion of the base has a tasty dark wine-red hue which attracts looks even when switched off. These panels feature 10000:1 contrast ratios (dynamic, of course) and a brightness of 600 cd/m2—quite good.
A 50-inch Hitachi plasma screen was also on display for Rs 55,000, although the salesman pointed out that service might be an issue. It seems brands like Sony, Samsung and LG garner votes mainly due to hassle-free service. There was an Akai 32-inch LCD at Rs 38,000—the cheapest 32-inch we came across—but one look at the picture quality told us we’d be better off spending a few thousand more.
After deliberation, a couple of (soft) drinks and a pizza, my friend had built up enough fortitude to fork out a good bit of cash. We finally decided on the Samsung plasma (PS-42C91H) for Rs 55,000; a half hour of gentle persuasion had us at Rs 53,000. After paying half the amount in cash and swiping his credit card for the rest, we got a deal of Rs 52,500, and he drove home with his purchase as happy as a child at an ice-cream stand.