New technology this summer is all set to give us bigger, brighter and connected TVs.
They were right when they said it about Godzilla. Now they’re saying it about television: Size does matter. It looks like the days when a 20-inch colour TV set was the peak of our ambition, have gone with the wind. With advancing technology, the asking price of large screen TVs is less than what it was a year ago.
Smart TVs are the current trend — sets which have Internet and built-in connectivity. You can now, access Internet TV channels like YouTube Prime or subscribe to movie and TV services with free or paid content from Netflix, Hotstar, Hungama, Yupp TV, Eros etc. This opens up the whole new game of offline viewing, unshackling the viewer from seeing content only when it is broadcast.
But this summer, the TV revolution will be much about quality as content. Last year, LCD TVs, lit from a back panel of light emitting diodes and LEDs gave way slowly to Organic LED TVs or OLEDS, where millions of individual LED dots were self-lit. LG led this change. The result: TVs dramatically shrunk in weight and thickness as screens were as thin as 4-6 mms.
Simultaneously, High Definition or HD morphed into Ultra HD, also known as 4K, doubling the screen resolution. The ‘thin is in’ trend saw TV sets as large as 65 inch widely available from multiple vendors. Some makers threw in a curved screen, but the jury is out on whether this really helps.
But innovation is a moving goalpost: A few days ago Samsung globally launched a family of television sets starting with 49 inches and going up to 88 inches.
They were fuelled by yet another display technology called QLED, where the Q stands for quantum dots. This works by placing a film of millions of illuminating dots in front of the LED backlit panel. The dots now have metal alloy, which is said to sharply increase the range of colours displayed and the brightness.
Also, the new models reduce the number of wires behind a TV set with a single optical cord system called Invisible Connection that is hidden inside the stand.
Having made TVs very light with this technology, the makers are able to offer a mounting, where the TV is flush with the wall, like a photo frame.
In another upcoming TV called the Frame, Samsung has designed the TV to look like a work of art. Unlike static works of arts, the frame comes with an archive of 100 plus works of contemporary art. When not in use as a TV, the Frame can be used to display any of these paintings, adding class to your drawing room. A case of TV doing double duty as art!
Is 4K worth it?
Is 4K/ UHD TV worth the extra price? Well, in TVs that are 40-inch or smaller, you can hardly tell the difference from Full HD/2K and UHD/4K.
It is only in larger sizes that there is discernible difference. In 55-inch to 65-inch, if you look at the same content on a 2K and a 4K set, the latter shows a lot more depth — what looks like a black shadow area in a 2K set, reveals a lot of detail in 4K. OLED and QLED TVs are all 4K by default and their images are brighter and more colourful.
However, the real difference can be seen when a person is viewing sports. Where a 4K set shows no blur even when the action is very fast. The problem is that there is hardly any 4K content on the Indian satellite channels.
You have to pay extra for services like Netflix to access shows in 4K. If I had the money, I would go for 4K now to protect my investment from rapid obsolescence: the content will eventually come.