Its antecedents as a content provider, give Le Eco an edge when it comes to TV sets
Bangalore, March 22 2017: If you are going in for a new TV set today, should you go in for the best resolution currently available -- 4K otherwise known as Ultra High Definition -- or stick with 2K or Full High Definition, where a lot of content as well as satellite TV channels are already available?
A year ago, I would not have had a clear answer. Today, I can suggest with no ifs or buts -- go for 4K. Yes I know, there is very little 4K content out there. On rare occasions, our dish TV providers, offer some hours of 4K content, usually centered around big sporting events. And there are no 4K DVD to be had. So you might ask, why pay for something that can't be enjoyed? Here's why:
Just browse for 4K on You TubeTube and what do you get? I am just trying as I write this. The answer is 3.5 million results -- mostly Discovery Channel or Nat Geo-type outdoor spectacle, a lot of sports clips -- and yes plenty of Bollywood songs from new or upcoming movies in 4K. Enough to be getting on with, till live 4K content becomes more common!
The second reason why I would recommend buying nothing less than a 4K set today is called upscaling: Old 2K or DVD quality content is scaled by many new TVs, to look like 4K: not a perfect solution but the best you can do if you want to look at old movies and the like.
The third and clinching argument is provided the very TV set I am reviewing today: Le Eco, the Chinese company, earlier known as LeTV, has been something of a disrupter in India -- with a range of sets that offer specs that come for 60% to 100% more from competing big brands. It was so with their 2K and this week, the price difference is still palpable with the newly launched Super4 ecoTV series of three 4K models: X40 Pro X43 Pro and X50 Pro, the numbers refer to the screen size in inches.
I have been trying out the X43Pro for a week now and except for the size of the TV almost all other specifications are the same, give or take a USB/HDMI port or two.
For starters, the LED TV is now so light that my wife and I could remove it from its packing carton and set it up on the two stands and have it working in less than 10 minutes. Since our existing TV was much smaller, our problem was to find a table or TV stand as wide as the 43 inch TV so that the legs would stand squarely.
There are 2 HDMI ports, a USB 3.0 port, AV and audio ports, RF and ethernet ports on the back panel, but one USB port is usefully placed on the top of the very thin ( less than a cm) body. This means if you suddenly want to connect a new device, you don't have to go crawling to look at the rear panel.
This is an Android (Marshmallow) TV -- that means like a PC or a phone it comes with 3GB DDR3 RAM, 16 GB of flash memory and a quad core m 1.7 GHz processor. It is also a smart TV and has a built in WiFi network adapter so that you can connect it to your home WiFi wireless network. Set up was easy and once I entered the password of my home WiFi network, it latched on to my broadband router within a second and was to all intents and purposes, a connected TV. Of course, I could also connect my existing dish TV set top box and my DVD player using the 2 HDMI ports.
The downside of having a TV that thinks it is a PC is that one has to share your Google account details or open a new Google ( email) account before you can use the TV. Le Eco adds another layer of verification, before you can use its large suite of contents -- including Yupp TV and a host of Indian Over The Top services. The TV remote which like most things about the X43 is a marvel of minimalistic design, has a dedicated button to access the Le Eco content page. For any other content you must use the browser button and surf the Net as you would on a phone or PC, and download any favourite apps from Google Play. If I had bought the TV rather than just tried it out, I would spend a day deleting buttons to apps I would never use and add the one I want to use regularly.
So much for the set up. The screen is full UHD/4K ie 3840 by 2160 pixels, enhanced by what is known as HDR or High Dynamic Range to increase the range of colours from full black to full white. The X 43 supports the latest HDR10 standard. The sound was Dolby - DTS. With 4K one is supposed to see very fast action without jitter. I saw a few sports clips of skiing etc but I am no expert and can't say if the action on screen would pass muster with hard core games freaks. All I can say is that the 4K clips I pulled from YouTube looked better -- with detail even in the dark areas compared to my own 2K 36 inch set.
I said the third reason for buying a 4K set today was this set. In fact it is the price -- currently Rs 57,490 at the LeMall. The smaller 40 inch X40 costs Rs 42,490 and the larger 50 inch X50 can be had for Rs 78490. A casual search seems to show that sets with comparable screen size with 4K and HDR10 from most other vendors cost 50 - 70 percent more. And not many offer the amount of free content that Le Eco throws in.
Push has come to shove. The cost of 4K TVs are being driven down by players like Le Eco to a level where the incremental cost from 2K to 4K makes sense , even if live content in 4K is thin on the ground. Like good scouts, it is time to Be Prepared -- for the 4K era.