Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - BY NANDAGOPAL RA­JAN

From be­ing what was dis­missed as the idiot box, the tele­vi­sion has now be­come a slick, sexy, su­per in­tel­li­gent hub of en­ter­tain­ment. It can surf the Net, ac­cess apps, check your mail and re­spond to voice or mo­tion con­trol. Yes, your TV has just be­come smarter.

T` he story of the trans­for­ma­tion of tele­vi­sion has started sound­ing a lot like that of the tele­phone. From a sin­gle-use prod­uct, it has now be­come an en­ter­tain­ment and in­for­ma­tion hub for which show­ing pro­grammes or movies is only a sec­ondary duty. Tele­vi­sion now can take you on­line, show videos from YouTube, ini­ti­ate video calls and play your en­tire me­dia li­brary, all in three di­men­sion.

This trans­for­ma­tion has not been sud­den. In the past cou­ple of years there were in­di­ca­tions that the idiot box was up to some­thing smart. This year, smart be­came the buzz­word for tele­vi­sions. And this hasn’t been the only change. Tele­vi­sion screens have also changed. So much so that LCD and plasma screens are now looked down upon as tech­nolo­gies of the past. Any­thing less than LED is sneered at.

Amid all this, it is not ex­actly a win-win for cus­tomers. While they could have taken home a large-screen TV for un­der 20,000 in the CRT era, a 32-inch LED with smart fea­tures will put them back by al­most dou­ble that amount now. While it is rare to find CRTs on shop shelves now, the LCDs and plas­mas— while cheaper—are not fu­ture proof, at least not the ones that sales­men badger you to buy. Many mod­els an­nounced this year have not yet made it to deal­er­ships, who are still busy try­ing to sell the older ma­chines. It is not nec­es­sary to buy a 2012 TV set. But go­ing by the way broad­cast tech­nol­ogy is pro­gress­ing, it wouldn’t be a great idea to buy a tele­vi­sion that is not Full HD with at least a 32-inch acreage.

Smart fea­tures are an­other thing, though. While they are great to have on your TV, it is still a bit early to find them truly ef­fec­tive. Apps on TV, for in­stance, need at least a 1Mbps In­ter­net con­nec­tion to work in the way they should. The same is the case with 3D. We still don’t have the con­tent or tele­casts to fully cap­i­talise on this fa­cil­ity. Yes, you can up­scale 2D con­tent to 3D, but watch­ing this for more than a few min­utes could be a lit­eral pain. The Lon­don Olympics is the big­gest thrust that 3D broad­cast has ever got, but we in In­dia are just not run­ning that race.

Mean­while, there has been spurt of cut­tingedge tech­nol­ogy. Sam­sung’s smart tele­vi­sions can un­der­stand voice com­mands and move­ments in front of the screen. While both tech­nolo­gies need to be fine-tuned, they give a clear in­di­ca­tion of things to come. As of now, how­ever, you have to pay a pre­mium for these ca­pa­bil­ties in your unit—and these are tech­nolo­gies that you might not use fully for a few years more.

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