Think of this as a gift guide for your fancy new flat-screen high-definition (HD) TV. You have to admit some of the offers were very good. You could buy a 40-42-inch full HD TV (called 1080p in technical terminology) for just over Rs 50,000-60,000. Spend a bit more dosh and you could get those high refresh rate or LED backlit TV for just over Rs 1 lakh. But then you came back home and attached your Direct-To-Home (DTH) box and discovered that the picture quality, for lack of a better word, sucked.
You might have called up the dealer to complain. Where were all those lovely crystal clear images you saw in the store? You might have even written an angry e-mail to the company whose product you bought and then you realised you had not read the fine print. So here you are, stuck with an undeniably attractive gadget hanging on your wall and you not quite able to enjoy it to the fullest. So, what do you do? You could move to the US where they broadcast in HD (imagine, you’ll be able to see whether your favourite news anchor has done her upper or not), but as you know jobs are in short supply there. So, you will need another solution.
Option A: Adjust your image settings. One study said that over 80 per cent of television owners never adjust the image settings. Adjusting settings to cope with standard definition images by making the image a bit softer and reducing brightness can vastly reduce strain on your eyes.
PICTURE IMPROVEMENT: Minimal.
Option B: Buy a DVD Player that is easy to upscale—almost everybody makes one nowadays and they cost between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000. But make sure you buy a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable with one of these (a 3m HDMI cable costs Rs 750 onwards), because no cable, no cigar.
PICTURE IMPROVEMENT: Marginal.
Option C: Buy a Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PS3—prices of current-generation consoles with high-definition output have crashed—a Xbox 360 costs only Rs 17,000 for a basic model (the high-end Elite model costs a lot more) and the PS3 has cut its price down to Rs 20,000 for the sales box, even though the new lighter and sleeker PS3 “Slim” is not being sold in India. Games still cost quite a bit but titles like EA Sports FIFA 10 (Rs 2,400; Xbox 360 and PS3) and SoulCalibur IV (Slightly old, but I love it; Rs 1,800) are totally worth it.
PICTURE IMPROVEMENT: Massive, even though most games are only at 720p resolution.
Option D: Get yourself the Western Digital WDTV HD or Seagate’s FreeAgent Theatre+media boxes (approx. Rs 8,000). These are tremendous gadgets despite the fact that you will need to buy media storage separately (which is great in a way). These devices can play back not only standard digital video formats such as AVI, DivX, Xvid and MP4 but also high-definition media formats such as MKV. Honestly once you’ve tasted high-definition video, watching standard TV is just so boring.
PICTURE IMPROVEMENT: Massive, but depends on the quality of the video—1080p video looks stunning.