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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How Full Is Your HDTV?

Recently we, my family, in a never ending quest to make the idiot box less idiotic, decided to upgrade our TV. We had already reached the humongous size 29” in the conventional series and knew it was time to embrace newer technology. Over the years, as with all the other families, the TV size was growing and the room size getting smaller. LCD or Plasma TVs seemed to fit the requirement of the shrinking room size without being too intrusive in the already limited space.

Just like the last time when I had to buy Potatoes for the house, I started research on the Internet and guess what, learning how to buy potatoes was much simpler than how to buy an LCD TV, though equally nerve racking.

After spending a lot of time on the Internet one thing was clear that it was the cost which was going to decide which brand, and which size I was going to buy, even though I knew that, that would be the last thing I was going to let others on.. So I went on to one of those huge swanky looking Electronics stores and stood in front of the wall adorning about forty television sets of various brands and sizes. Very soon I had a salesman with a smile plastered on to his face in front of me.

“Are you looking for a TV, Sir?” He asked in a manner as if I had just lost my dear one in a crowd. I couldn’t really blame him, since many people just go to the stores to watch a cricket match if there is one on. I realized that I couldn’t really fool him for long since I wouldn’t be able to differentiate one from the other in the plethora of choices available and moreover it was indeed a shop so I decided to let him on the secret.

“Err.. Yes!”

“What is your budget Sir?”

A*^%^$#@, “Never mind that!” So funny that being part of the middle class actually makes you look like one.

“Any particular brand you are interested in? We have Sony, LG, Samsung, Akai, Panasonic, Videocon, Sharp, TCL, …..” I was short on time and it seemed like the whole world was manufacturing only LCD TVs, so I interrupted him.

“Sony, LG and Samsung would do, and keep it above 29 inch,” I responded.

After what seemed like hours and having gone through the X, W, Z, T, S series of Sony, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 series of Samsung and the 30, 53, 70 , Jazz, Scarlet series of LG and negotiating, with some difficulty, through technical jargon like aspect ratio, dynamic contrast ratio, resolution, etc, I homed in on a 37-inch Samsung and negotiated the price. Just when I thought that I had finalized the deal, our friendly salesman, who actually was nobody’s friend, decided to put my convictions to test.

“Sir if you are spending so much money, why don’t you look at just one more model and get same size, same contrast ratio, aspect ratio plus a full HD TV?”

“What do you mean, the TV I selected is not HDTV?”

“It is HDTV sir but it is not full HD,” he replied with a sense of complete satisfaction.

“And pray, what is the difference.”

“The resolution, Sir.” Great! Just when I thought, I had everything figured out.

“Go on.”

“What you are buying can show 720 vertical lines whereas the full HD TV can show 1080 lines. Much better picture, Sir.”

“How many TV channels are being broadcast on full HD?” I asked.

“Right now, in India? None Sir. But it is the future of TV. Sooner or later it will come.”

This was my fourth TV in 14 years. The chances of even the H reaching India before I changed again were very bleak. Just to keep up with the conversation, I asked the salesman what the price was.

He replied and I smiled for the first time during the entire conversation. A full Rs 2000/- cheaper than the stupid, not even full, HDTV I had selected. That sealed the deal and I bought and brought it home.

Just the presence of the full HD feature, which is not being used, is lending a tremendous quality to the TV viewing experience. When I miss my old TV, the LCD TV has a feature of shifting the aspect ratio back to 4:3 and the picture looks like it used to in my old TV. The TV has saved a lot of space in our living room. Living room, because what’s the point of buying something so expensive if it can’t be shown off, especially when the full HD feature, as such, is not being used.

I went back on the Internet and tried to understand more about the feature, which I was probably never going to use, my newest TV had, and what I read disappointed me. The TV industry has already thought of a fuller HD format, fuller than the current full HD. The 2160p. It will have eight megapixels compared to the current 2 megapixels. Thankfully the format will not come into being till 2015. Till that time my TV will remain full HD and then one fine day suddenly it will become “not so full”.

I am afraid, that the fullness of the HDTV may just become a status symbol. "Tell me, How full is your HDTV?"

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