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Rs 30 lakh TV, anyone?
Priyanka Joshi | January 14, 2006
Every television commercial portrays them as sleek, slim 'things' that are a must for all those sound-and-picture connoisseurs out there.
Their point: Any TV room is incomplete without these svelte 'things.' Who or what are they? Welcome the new babes of 'techtown' -- plasma televisions, which come with a promise to sit prettily in your TV rooms or, even, bedrooms perhaps.
In looks and style, plasma TVs score 10 on 10, and on picture and sound they score a solid eight on 10. So it comes as no surprise that companies like Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic, MCC and BenQ are so buoyant about the market for plasma display panels (PDP) in India.
Industry sources underline that 'millions are invested in R&D so as to deliver first-rate screen resolution and sound experience -- briefly speaking, 'value-for-money'.'
No more targetted at the 'upwardly mobile', insist manufacturers, plasma TVs are now being tailored to serve the bulging 'hypermarket' class segment. Plasma TVs are not new to human beings and a few years back, they carried a 'snooty' price tag.
Though not exactly the 'cheaper option', with consumer psyche undergoing a vast change, plasma TVs are not beyond your reach either. In fact, they are fast encroaching Indian living rooms and consumers do not seem hesitant in coughing up upwards of Rs 100,000 for this aural and visual mammoth!
The exciting thing about plasma displays is the sheer size of the screen (and you better have a spacious room to enjoy this beauty). These are not your usual 21-inch screens (which were the big thing a decade back); instead, available in sizes ranging from 43 to 71 inches, it might be some time before your neck adjusts to the constant left-right movements during a tennis match.
Though plasma TVs are talked about, somehow the manufacturers are just realising the cons. "Even as India is opening up as a market for plasma TVs and thinking beyond 29-inch screens," says Prasanna Raghavan, product group head, LGEIL, "competition has already arrived with LCD TVs, giving plasma screens a run for their money."
He feels that 'growth in the plasma screen segment has been sporadic in India, and thus the penetration is restricted in numbers.'
Technology-wise, LCD and plasma TVs each have their own positive and negative points. LCD screens are known for their sharp pictures and vibrant colour, and plasma screens are great for reproducing colours. Noticeably, one of the biggest negatives for plasma TVs is the 'burn-in' effect, point out tech pundits.
This might be a problem, for example, if you hook on to a news channel that runs a news ticker across the bottom of the screen (although a few manufacturers do bundle in 'white flash' that allows for correction if burn-in occurs). So unless you intend to tune in constantly to a news channel, or run movies 24 hours a day, you won't have to worry much about this. For LCD TVs, burn-in isn't a problem.
But the sound is something you must experience at least once in your life. Most plasma and LCD TVs reproduce a rich, theatre-like sound experience with all the power and performance of multi-speaker surround sound.
Plasma TVs are also the 'big ones' when it comes to sizes, and 'additionally, you will have a greater variety of plasma TVs to choose from before the number of large-sized LCD models catches up to the number of options the former offers,' adds Raghavan. 'And even with plasma display panels and LCD TV categories (that have seen a 10 per cent price erosion) multiplying in numbers, I don't see massive growth in the segment.'
Unperturbed with these downcast predictions, MCC Marketing, a part of the MCC group, recently introduced JVC's plasma collection with two models priced at Rs 175,000 and Rs 399,000 respectively. To soften the blow on the pocket, MCC has also offered 'zero interest installments'.
BenQ, on the other hand, is busy marketing its 46-inch plasma TV, which comes with four speakers (two internal and two tower-like speakers stacked alongside the TV). Priced steeply at Rs 225,000 (plus taxes), the company is targetting only high net individuals.
Not to be left behind, LG Electronics has a 71-inch plasma TV in its product kitty. LG has introduced a seamless single module plasma screen with a high-resolution screen format of 1920 x1080 pixels. Again designed for the niche market, LG has priced this beauty at a whopping Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million). Any buyers?While plasma TVs have been in market for some time now (and are becoming popular), it is LCD TVs that are hot at the moment. So, what will it be for you?