Planning to Buy Smart TV? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Xiaomi changed the dynamics of the TV market in India last year. 
Xiaomi changed the dynamics of the TV market in India last year. (Photo: The Quint)

Planning to Buy Smart TV? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Affordable internet in India has not only opened the floodgates for smartphone makers to sell their product, even the television brands have benefited. This is where Chinese tech giant Xiaomi, by launching smart TVs for under Rs 20,000 has changed the dynamics of the segment, just like what it did in the mobile sphere more than four years back.

This change has been forcefully accepted by manufacturers, which is why getting a television with support for the internet (via WiFi or Ethernet) has become easier than ever was. But with added competition comes the who dilemma of which product to buy and what to expect from it.

Well, we’ve got you covered with everything there is to know, and an added bonus; We’re going to talk about our experience of using affordable smart TVs and whether they really make sense for such entry level prices.

What to Look Out for?

Before you end up splurging on a new smart TV, it is imperative you know the brands available in the market and what they offer.

You can go for a television which supports HD (1280x720 pixels), Full-HD (1920x1080 pixels) and 4K (3620x2160 pixels) resolution. Most companies have TVs sized between 32-inch and 65-inch in this category but remember, bigger the size, higher the price.

Some of the brands we’ve looked at are lesser known TV makers like Xiaomi, TCL, Thomson, VU and Kodak among others. There are a few more worth mentioning. You’ve even got a smart TV for as low as Rs 7,000 in the market these days.

Mi TV 4 supports 4K but doesn’t offer content in this resolution. 
Mi TV 4 supports 4K but doesn’t offer content in this resolution. 
(Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

Also Read : This Android Smart TV Costs Just Rs 4,999, But There Is A Catch

All of these TVs are made using LED panels, making them power efficient as well as less harmful to your eyes which will last you well over 10 years, unless any major hardware defect creeps in. It’s a wise investment and if your old TV is showing signs of ageing, this is a good time to move on.

What Should a Smart TV Have?

In terms of hardware features, make sure the TV supports multiple USB ports, so that you can plug in an external drive and play your existing movie catalogue. HDMI port is another must-have for these TVs, and it’ll be great if you have two of those; one for the set top box, and one for devices like the Fire Stick.

There are few TVs in the market that also come with Ethernet port for fixed line internet connection, but we’d recommend using Wi-Fi any day.

Also, it would do you good if the TV comes with a 3.5mm audio jack. The 55-inch Mi TV doesn’t which becomes a pain sometimes connecting audio.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Mirror Casting from mobile should also be checked off for the product while buying. 

When it comes to software, most TV brands claim they support Android out-of-the-box, but the interface gives it away. For Xiaomi, you’re getting its customised PatchWall interface that also supports Android TV, which is important if you want to access the Google Play Store for apps.

The O screen interface of Android TV looks like this. 
The O screen interface of Android TV looks like this. 
(Photo Courtesy: Android)
Having Android TV comes with the added bonus of built-in Chromecast feature, letting you stream content from mobile to the big screen, with just a tap of button. 

The absence of a full fledged Android version in a TV means you will not be able to use popular streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Make sure you ask for these basic details before buying a TV in this segment.

Also Read : Xiaomi Mi TV 4 UHD Review: The Next Big Thing 

How’s the Quality?

We’ve used multiple smart TVs from brands like Thomson, Xiaomi and Vu over a period of 2 months. Fair to say that the build quality depends on the pricing of the product but even then, we’ve been surprised with the kind of value these TVs are able to offer for what they cost.

The ones’s which cost below Rs 30,000, the fit and finish mostly involves hard plastic and the size of bezels around the screen is good enough for how much you pay for it.

The panel quality of these TV depends on its pricing. 
The panel quality of these TV depends on its pricing. 
(Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

When it comes to the screen quality, most of these brands are using display panels from Samsung (or at least they claim to) and unlike what you see with TVs from brands like LG, Sony and Samsung itself, there’s a definite difference which is obvious.

Also Read : Xiaomi Mi TV 4 & Mi TV 4A – How Different Are These Two TVs?

You also get multiple remotes with these TVs to access set top box and streaming device separately. You can even expect some of the companies to let you control the TV via voice command. 
Remote these days come equipped with voice command. 
Remote these days come equipped with voice command. 
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The audio quality of the built-in speakers isn’t that good, so make sure you go for TVs that carry Dolby Digital badge, offering better output than others.

Smart TV or Fire Stick?

There are some of you who’re not looking to spend on a new TV, and would rather spend a few grand on devices like the Amazon Fire Stick. You also have the Amkette Evo smart box to consider and yes, Google Chromecast.

Upgraded Fire Stick 4K gets faster processor and a new remote. 
Upgraded Fire Stick 4K gets faster processor and a new remote. 
(Photo: The Quint)

Long story short, if you have TV in working condition and one that supports HDMI port then going for streaming devices won’t be a idea.

Also Read : Amazon Fire Stick vs Fire Stick 4K: Is it Worth the Upgrade?

This is probably the only device in the market which supports all popular apps like Hotstar, Sony LIV, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix as well. Instead of spending on TV, you pay for these services and able to access without ditching your good-old TV.

Having said that, choosing between a smart TV and a streaming device is dependent on factors like; your budget, whether you have the space to accommodate a big-screen television. Once you have clarity on that, you need to look at brand preference and if they do meet your needs.

During our experience, we felt that using streaming devices with a regular TV won’t be deal breaker at all. You spend less than 6K, pay the rest for your streaming services and your digital library is good to go. In 2019, it is definitely much cheaper than using cable TV.

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