Those Smart TVs – They just got cheaper

After the revised GST notification by the Indian government, TVs with screen sizes up to 32 inches will attract 18 per cent GST, as against the earlier 28 per cent. So, a TV that was earlier available for Rs 12,000 or Rs 13,000 can now be had for about Rs 10,000. The 32-inch TV market already had a wide market base and the new GST rule will give it a further boost. This report will compare various models of 32-inch smart TVs to help simplify the selection process for consumers who may now consider buying one. Also, we will look at the various features as well as additional features that one may expect from a smart TV.

Brands Compared: MI, LG, Micromax, Sony, Panasonic, TCL, Kodak, Shinco

Sceptre, Samsung, Hyundai, Onida, Philips

Parameters Compared

  • Size (inches)
  • HDR/ Full HD/UHD
  • Display Resolution (pixels)
  • Number of USB Ports
  • Number of HDMI Ports
  • Annual Energy Consumption (units/year)
  • BEE Star Rating
  • Price (Rs)
  • Warrantee (months)

The major feature separating smart TVs and not-so-smart TVs is an internet connection. This allows one to access on-demand content from apps like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4, and stream television shows and movies from a variety of apps and services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. Apps on smart TVs either come pre-installed or are available to download from an app store. A growing number of smart TVs have full web browsers that let you go almost anywhere on the internet. Many smart TVs come with point-and-click remote controls that can manage onscreen interactions using hand motions or by responding to your voice commands. Most smart TVs also provide capabilities to connect with external devices such as a USB flash drive, a mobile phone, etc. Additional services include customizable home screens and recommendations of things to watch based on your personal tastes. Some are useful, others feel more like gimmicks.

A smart TV comes preloaded with an operating system (OS) that functions similar to a smartphone OS. You can connect to the internet to view content as well as install additional apps.

The Smart Consumer’s Checklist

Display type

Figure out the type of display technology you want, whether it’s LCD, LED, OLED or UHD.

LCD: Liquid crystal displays are pretty common to find, and may be the cheaper option. They are energy-efficient and usually have good colour and resolution.

LED: TVs branded as LED are actually LCD TVs that use LEDs as a backlight for the liquid crystals in the display. If a TV has ‘local dimming’, it will have an advantage when it comes to contrast ratio, which is a plus. On top of that, LED TVs are less power-hungry than standard LCDs and plasma.

OLED: Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TVs use coloured LED lights to create the image, so they save on power, though not always as much as LED TVs. However, since OLED screens are costly to make, you’ll have to pay more. They also suffer from some of the viewing-angle problems.

UHD TVs: Ultra-high definition (UHD) TVs, also called 4K TVs, have screen resolutions of 3,840 x 2,160. That’s four times the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels found in your full HD TV. The more densely packed array of pixels in UHD sets makes them capable of greater picture detail.
 

Resolution

HD-ready, full HD, or 4K? These are terms used to denote the resolution of the TV screen. The higher the resolution, the better the image quality. HD-ready offers 1,366 x 768 pixels resolution, full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, and 4K 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. We recommend that if you have the budget, get a 4K TV. If not, then go for a full HD screen. HD-ready TVs are cheaper and while they are good enough for watching SD (standard definition) content, you can notice the marked differences in sharpness and clarity compared to a full HD TV.
 

Size

The common TV panel sizes available today are 32, 40, 42, 46/49, 55, 65, 79, 84, 98 and 105 inches. To determine the ideal screen size for best viewing experience, measure the distance between where the TV will be placed and your bed/couch/chair.

You could consider a bigger set for spacious family rooms, or you will be sitting very far from the TV. Consider how many people in your family typically watch at once and where you are going to put your new set. Then pick the largest screen size that will fit comfortably into that space—and your budget.
 

Installation/Placement

Before purchasing the TV, decide where you want it to be placed – on a table stand or mounted on a wall. Most manufacturers today ship TV sets with a stand in the box, though the wall-mount brackets have to be purchased separately. (The universal wall-mounting kit costs around Rs 500.) Keep in mind that if you decide to mount the TV on a wall, you will need to find a way to hide the dangling cables. It is recommended that you keep the TV in a location where the other devices – set-top box, game consoles, portable storage devices, DVD players – can easily be connected.

You’ll need an internet connection to get your smart TV online. Most smart TVs are now wi-fi-enabled, meaning you can wirelessly connect them to your internet router and other devices like smartphones. Some older models require a brand-specific wi-fi adaptor, which usually slots into one of the USB ports. You can also connect your TV using an Ethernet cable, but if it's not close to your router then you’ll need a long lead or a powerline adapter.

A good broadband speed is essential if you want to stream video. For example, if you want to stream 4K ultra HD content on Netflix, you’ll need at least 25Mbps to get the best experience. Also, go for an unlimited broadband package so you can avoid any extra changes for exceeding your data limit while streaming.
 

Are there Security Risks?

Once a device goes online, it’s vulnerable – and your TV is no exception. At the same time, you need to consider whether or not nefarious types would even be interested in cracking into your TV.

Things have improved over the years. Some brands make a point of highlighting security features in their TVs, for example. As of now, protections like third-party anti-virus software that you can get for your PC isn’t really available for smart TVs.

What we as consumers can do is practise constant vigilance and stay updated. Add two-step authentication to apps that require a login, if it’s available. Also, connect to the network via ethernet if you can. It is much harder for hackers to break into a hardwired connection compared to wi-fi.
 

You can transform your standard TV into a smart TV

If you don’t want to splurge on a smart TV, there are more affordable ways to get internet services on your current television. These include streaming boxes, which are a wide range of plug-in devices that allow you to transform your standard TV into a smart TV at a fraction of the cost. Well-known streaming devices include the Amazon FireTV stick, Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku, and all can access video on-demand, catch-up TV and other internet apps when connected to your television and home wi-fi network. The most important thing to check is which streaming services come with your box. If your favourites are not there, maybe think twice.

Some manufacturers have developed their own smart-TV platforms, while others may use a licensed system, such as Android TV from Google. A TV with built-in smarts can make accessing content easy—there’s only a single remote control—but a separate streaming media player may have more content options, or use an interface that makes finding and accessing content easier.

If you connect your PC to your TV, you can use it as a large computer monitor. For this, you’ll need an analogue VGA input. Some TVs can be connected via a digital input, either a DVI socket, or more commonly via an HDMI input configured for PC screen resolutions (check your TV manual for instructions on this). If your PC only has a DVI output, HDMI to DVI cables are available to buy in shops and online.
 

How many GB of data is needed to watch a movie?

Watching movies or TV shows on Netflix uses about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard-definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video. Thus, watching a movie will consume about 7 to 8 GB of data.
 

Streaming services and costs

Netflix is the major streaming option for home television audiences. It is the world’s top video-streaming service that allows users to watch content on screens ranging from smartphones to smart televisions. Netflix subscription plans in India start at Rs 500, Rs 650 and Rs 800 per month. The first-month subscription is free. Hotstar's premium offering costs Rs 199 per month or 999/Year, while Amazon Prime offers unlimited content for just Rs 129 per month or Rs 999 per year.
 

Comparison at a Glance: Of Smart Televisions


 
Note: Price may vary. Before buying please check detailed specification and price on amazon.in or flitcart.com or company website.

#Annual energy consumption is estimated based on a daily usage of 6 hours in ‘on’ mode and 12 hours in ‘standby’ mode.
 

Star rating (energy consumption)

Your TV contributes to your energy bill, so choosing an efficient one will save you money. The energy star ratings help you compare relative energy efficiency. Choose the TV with more stars when choosing between two similar-sized models because it will cost you less to run. In India, it is now mandatory to fix star-rating label on TVs. Star rating denotes how energy-efficient your appliance is. Because of the energy-labelling scheme of BEE, the quality of TVs with the energy label is assured to a large extent.
 

Warranty and service network

Most of us tend to stick to known, market-leading, brands. But these may not be the best choice always. There are various factors to consider, other than the brand name. Does the brand have a network of service centres in your area? Is the installation included in the price, and what kind of warranty does it come with?
 

Things to be smart about

  • Assembled TVs

These days you can find dealers in the retail market stocking assembled TVs without any brand name, these being mostly replicate copies of branded TVs in terms of packaging, labels, features, physical look and smart features. Most assembled TVs are made to look like popular brands. Be careful about being persuaded by the cost, which may be as much as 50 per cent cheaper as compared to popular branded TVs, as these come with no/limited warranty and have a limited life too. Moreover, authorized dealers of the brand will refuse to repair these counterfeit items. You will be dependent on local service mechanics.

  • TV life

With introduction of LED/LCD TVs, it has been found from consumers that TVs go unserviceable, especially the display panel, in a much shorter period as compared to the earlier CRT-based TVs. The replacement of a new and genuine display panel costs between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 rupees depending upon panel size. If possible, avoid going for expensive TV models as these may not last as long as CRT TVs. On the other hand, take an extended warranty or go for an AMC if you are going ahead with an expensive TV.
 

Use your television efficiently

  • Turn the TV off when no one is watching it.
  • Buy a model with higher star rating (5 stars).
  • LED and LCD TVs are generally more energy-efficient than plasmas.
  • Know that larger screens consume more electricity than smaller screens.
  • Know that the brighter the screen, the more energy the TV uses.
  • Do not leave the TV in standby mode for a long time.
  • Position your TV so that it isn’t in direct sunlight – this way, you won’t need to have the brightness turned all the way up.
  • Do not clean the screen panel with wet cloth or when it is ‘on’.