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The TV vs Projector battle

If you want the ultimate home theatre experience, there’s really only one way to go, says Rajiv Makhni.

gadgets Updated: Oct 01, 2011 18:47 IST
Rajiv Makhni

We live in strange times. There I was, lamenting and whining in my column last week about being bitten by the upgradetitis disease and how I was suffering. What I was expecting was some messages of concern, what I got was a full-blown war based on one small innocent remark in the column.

I had pointed out that a projector is now the way to go if you really want the full I own my own IMAX in my apartment feel. Well, the large screen flat panel purists completely lost it. They called my thinking old and outdated and not with it. They pointed out that flat panels are now huge, can’t be touched for brightness and contrast, and are the only option if you don’t want to watch movies in a dimly lit black room. To all of them I have just one thing to say in my defence: Whatever medication you’re on, speak to your doctor it’s making you hallucinate big time. Here are the real facts.

TVThe case for large screen flat panel TVs

Yes, TVs are huge now, bigger than ever before, pixel density is very fine so nothing looks blotchy and ugly on screen, and brightness and colours are incredibly rich and very vibrant. Flat panel quality has been the true showcase for how much technology has jumped in the last few years. From plasma to LCD and now even LED these are brilliant TVs with pictures that are sharp as a knife. Your quest for big TV supremacy can start at about 63 inches and go to as high as 150 inches. Also, prices are coming down and availability is better. Thus it sounds perfect and they do seem to be the perfect choice for a true home theatre. Except…

The not-so-bright part of large screen TVs
Let’s start from the truly big problem size itself. It’s all very well to talk about how much thinner and lighter they’ve become. But compared to what? The giant beasts they were before! A slimmer, thinner beast is still that a beast! A truly large screen TV (and you really do need more than 85 inches for the real big picture feel) still weighs a ton. They need special steel reinforced walls to install, your doors may have to be cut open to get a TV that large in and handling and installation will need an army of people. Then there’s power consumption these are as ungreen as you can go and consume copious amounts of power. Also TVs like these aren’t really manufactured for home theatre, more for commercial and office use so perfect calibration and set up options are few and far between. And while I’ve said prices are coming down you’re still talking about Rs 6 lakh (down from Rs 15 lakh) or more for the really big ones. And for all those who think that a 55-inch TV is more than adequate for a home theatre, one trip to a store that has a 200-inch projection screen and you’re going to hate your little TV a lot.

I will admit this. I was so far up the TV camp till last year that the whole projector revolution was something I missed. You may be in the same boat. Projectors today are completely different animals. You may have hated home theatre projectors of yesteryear for many reasons. They had the screen door effect (the picture looked like it had tiny little black squares), bulb burnout (most people replaced the very expensive bulb every six months), professional set-up (and those guys charged a bomb), heat generation (and noisy fans), the need for clean power and clean rooms (dust could bring a new projector to its knees in a week), the need for pitch darkness (and just couldn’t be used in the daytime)... let’s just say it was tough. Projectors today have scratched off almost all of those negatives and have added some incredible features.

The shiny, bright and new projector world
Extra lumens give you an incredibly bright picture and with a high gain screen you can watch anything in a brightly lit room, bulb life can go to even 400 hours (which should last you around three years if you watch a movie every day), most projectors are completely sealed and dust has no chance; set-up is as easy as plunking it on a table and using the motorised focus and zoom; and great technologies like DLP/ LCD/ LCOS and others have made sure that you can’t find any grid or black squares even if you stand with your cheek to the screen. LED projectors consume almost no power and even the others aren’t power hogs at all. A pretty good full HD 1080P projector starts as low as Rs 45,000 (and spending about Rs 1.5 lakh can get you state-of-the-art stuff).

The problem with belonging to a camp or becoming a fan of one particular technology is that you are blinded to anything else and not open to see what new magic the world of technology has popped up. If you’re still sitting adamantly and shaking your head right now, just go to a store and try out all the things I’ve just said. Not only will your jaw drop to the floor, even the effects of that hallucinatory medication will completely disappear.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3.

Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni

From HT Brunch, October 2

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