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Going flat

Here’s all you need to know about flat screen televisions 40-inch television is perfect. before you hit the electronics mall this festive season, and buy yourself this season’s must-have wall accessory.

Kushan Mitra        Print Edition: October 19, 2008

Full HD or HD ready?
Full high-definition (Full HD) televisions allow for a full 1080 lines of progressive vertical resolution (1080p), which, in layman’s terms, means that the TV can support playback from all next-generation video game consoles and Blu-ray disc players (if you have the cables). HD Ready TVs support lower resolutions, usually 768 lines of vertical progressive resolution (768p), which, incidentally, produce images that are a lot sharper than existing standard definition signals (which only have 480 lines of resolution). Keep in mind, however, that no broadcaster distributes content in any HD format in India today, unlike the US or Europe, which are switching over to HD signals. But output from current generation game consoles, such as the Xbox 360 and the Playstation3, are high-definition and some of the latest DVD players “upscale” their standard definition output to (sort of) highdefinition.

Big, bigger or biggest?
How big a television should you buy? Well, the simplest answer would be to buy the biggest TV you can, within your budget. But there is a simple rule of thumb: if your viewing distance is about 10 feet, a 30- or 32-inch TV is just fine. For every five feet of distance that you add, add five inches to the screen size. So, if you are viewing from 20 feet away, a 30-inch TV is too small, but a Here’s all you need to know about flat screen televisions 40-inch television is perfect.

RCA, component video and HDMI?
RCA Cables: The RCA cables are the standard cables that you get with set-top boxes and DVD players. The red and white leads are for stereo audio and the yellow cable feeds standard definition video.

Component HD: This cable uses the same audio leads as RCA cables, but video is fed through three leads for high-definition video playback.

HDMI: The High-definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) lead is a single cable for high-definition video and provides extremely high quality signals. HDMI cables are expensive, but are becoming increasingly popular.

LCD or Plasma?
The answer to this has become complicated, as there is next to no difference in price or expected lifespan between the two. Plasma screens usually display better colour (better contrast ratio) and have a faster response time, but are slightly more expensive and consume more electricity. LCD sets have a slightly higher lifespan, though both sets usually have a promised 50,000-hour life, easily over a decade of regular usage.

Is the USB port any use?
Early flat-panel TVs with a USB port could only play back JPEG pictures, but some of the latest flat-panel TVs can actually play back MPEG or AVI (DivX) movie files straight from the pen drive on your TV. Do ask your retailer about this.

What Is a good price to pay?
Large electronic retailers will have fantastic deals out there, but you can get a 40-inch HD-ready (768p) high-contrast plasma TV wearing a major brand in the Rs 50,000 range. Full-HD 40-inch televisions with high-contrast ratios will start at about Rs 70,000.

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