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Television

Zero1 Awards 2018 – TV – 4K HDR Flagships

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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It’s been a good year for those getting onto the 4K TV bandwagon. The premium 4K TVs in this section have seen some interesting advancements. We have seen the transition from the scene based HDR rendering to the better, object-based rendering. OLED 4K TVs have helmed the flagship market in India with companies like Sony, Panasonic showcasing their offerings.

The AI approach is popular and allows AI-enabled TVs to control your home appliances, have perfect voice recognition and fluid UIs. Some also sport Alexa or Google Home connectivity. We have seen some 4K TV makers bundle a soundbar with the TV whereas Sony has improved upon its acoustic surface technology. Surprisingly, these 4K TVs can make even 720p content look good. Flagship TVs have embraced Dolby Vision ensuring the best picture.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: Sony A9F

The A9F, Sony’s OLED offering for 2018 retains the same look and design as last year’s A1 with improvements under the hood. The TV sports the picture frame tabletop design. It is powered by Sony’s new X1 Ultimate processor which is capable of some impressive object-based rendering. Additionally, the TV also boasts a Netflix Mode to ensure you watch content in the brightness, contrast and colour temperature that the content creators actually intended.

Sony’s Acoustic surface has improved with the TV as well, offering 3 actuators instead of 2 and 2 subwoofers instead of 1 to add a good sound experience from the TV. Another feature is that the TV can be used as a centre channel speaker in your home theatre. Running on Android TV 8 out of the box, the new UI is smoother and simpler to navigate with the ability to control your smart home appliances just like you would with a Google Home speaker.

With picture-perfect display performance and good sound from the TV mixed with a new UI, smooth functionality and a host of features to exploit, the Sony A9F is the Zero1 winner for best-performing TV of 2018.

Runner-up: LG C8

The LG C8 is by no means a slouch of a TV. In fact, placed side by side with the A9F and only a trained eye will be able to tell the difference. The TV is powered by LGs new 9 Intelligent Processor. If you are looking to pick up this TV, you aren’t making a bad decision at all. It can playback 4K content in HDR and Dolby Vision extremely well. The only place where it loses out to the A9F is with its sound performance.

To truly enjoy this TV, you will need to invest in a sound bar or a home theatre. It runs on LG’s new ThinkQ AI-powered webOS and the UI is butter smooth to navigate. The picture presets automatically change to suit the content on display ensuring you never need to adjust the settings to get the best picture on screen. Even 720p content looks great on this TV.

Best Buy: LG C8

During the process of testing the TVs for the Zero1 Awards, the 55-inch Sony A9F is priced at Rs 4,29,900. Whereas the 55-inch LG C8 has an MRP of Rs 2,24,990 and a street price of about Rs 1,61,800. The price difference between the two is quite high. If a fantastic display is what you want, then yes, you can consider the LG C8. It has a slim design making it aesthetically pleasing. It boasts smooth performance and a remote control that literally works like a magic wand.

Television

Zero1 Awards 2017 – TVs – HDTVs

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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It’s been a good year for televisions so far. Sony jumped onto the OLED bandwagon, while LG made its OLED TVs slimmer and more attractive. Samsung announced its QLED technology, making the QLED Q8C the first TV to cover 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space. There were also new entrants in the high end TV space, with companies like Panasonic selling comparatively cheaper 4K HDR TVs.
Of course, there was improvement in the lower price segments as well, but we’re concerned right now with 4K and HDR televisions selling in the country. How did that segment fare? Well, here’s are the top picks from this segment.

2017 Zero1 award Winner: Sony Bravia A1 65-inch

Sony Bravia A1

Sony’s entry into the OLED market is good news for everyone. It means we can expect more companies to jump onto the OLED bandwagon in future. However, for 2017, the Zero1 Award for best television in India goes to Sony’s A1 65-inch. It’s the perfect mix of style and performance, that anyone spending this much money on a television would expect.
On our tests, the Bravia A1 returned contrast ratio ratings of over 180,000:1 at 50% brightness and with no direct light falling on the screen. That’s more than any television has achieved on our tests so far. Sony promises 1000 nits brightness on the panel as well, which is perfect for HDR video as well. Speaking of which, the Bravia A1 is one of the few televisions that offer both Dolby Vision and HDR10 support.
Granted, the Bravia A1 is not the loudest television, but it combined Acoustic Surface technology and a sub-woofer mounted in the kickstand to provide very rich audio output. Explosions sound more real, while dialogue is crisp when watching movies.

Runner Up: LG OLED 65C7T 65-inch

LG has always been amongst our favourites when it comes to televisions. Its top TVs lost out to Sony’s Z9D last year, and this year the OLED 65C7T takes second place. Now, that doesn’t mean this isn’t an absolute high end television. In fact, most won’t even be able to tell the difference between this and the Bravia A1 mentioned above. Under the same test conditions, the LG television returned contrast ratio readings of about 130,000:1, which is excellent.
What really puts this television behind the others is its audio performance. You would need an external soundbar for a clearer and richer audio. The TV often falters in differentiating dialogues from background scores.
Nevertheless, the LG OLED 65C7T is an excellent TV to buy. It produces excellent picture quality and supports all the newest technologies. LG’s WebOS is amongst the better television operating systems today, and the OLED 65C7T would impress anyone who hasn’t seen the Sony Bravia A1.

Best Buy: Sony Bravia A1 55-inch

We were going to give this one to the Samsung QLED Q8C. But inch to inch, the Bravia A1 doesn’t only outperform that TV, it also costs the same. So, it only makes sense that the smaller screen size should be the best buy. At 55-inch, it delivers the same picture quality as its larger variant. Given that it’s a full `1 lakh cheaper than the 65-inch version, it is certainly the best buy amongst top end TVs today.

Television

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Flagship TVs

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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Phones may account for most of the electronics market, but TVs are what most of us start our journey in tech with. From CRTs to OLEDs, that’s the journey so far, and things have taken a positive turn in 2016.
Interestingly, we didn’t start the year on a high note. It seems they kept the best for the last. Fair warning, the best performer this year is mighty expensive. However, it is indeed refreshing to see TVs become relevant again.
The credit for that goes to HDR technology. Unlike the regular resolution updates, HDR actually makes a difference. It improves the contrast ratio of a TV, making blacks darker and whites whiter.
The technology is far from reaching the mass market yet, but we can’t wait for it to do so.
Our competitors include everything from LeEco’s Super3 TVs to Panasonic’s Shinobi series, Samsung’s newest AMOLEDs, and more. Unfortunately, LG’s OLED E6 wasn’t available for this issue, forcing us to leave it out.
Our winner is the best at presenting natural and vibrant colours. It’s a 65-inch TV that was launched no more than a month ago.

Zero1 Winner: Sony 65-inch Z9D 4K HDR TV

TV

LCDs have traditionally been behind OLEDs. In our tests, LG’s OLEDs have steered past its competitors quite easily. However, we noticed burn in issues on the OLED E6 this time, which lost it a lot of points.
Sony, on the other hand, has silently worked towards achieving better colours using a technology it calls Backlight Master Drive. Also known as Focused Lightbeam technology, this allows Sony to control individual lights in the backlight array. Thus, the TV has over 500 dimmable zones.
As a result, the Sony Z9D achieves a contrast ratio of 1110:1 at 50 percent brightness, and in a reasonably lit room. It also has a white point reading of 6300K, which is as close to the ideal 6500 as it gets. This results in a very wide colour space, and true-to-life, vibrant colours.
If that wasn’t enough, Android TV is actually a tad faster on this TV than on other Sony TVs that we’ve reviewed. The interface seems faster, although folders still take some time to load. In addition, Sony has added a new Discover feature that does what the name suggests.
It costs over Rs.5 lakh, but that seems to be the price of quality today.

Runner Up: Sony X9350D 4K HDR TV

Sony decided that even with HDR, TVs are just not what they need to be. And to be honest, we do agree. That’s why the Sony X9350D employs four 12.5 Watt speakers, along with two 20 Watt woofers. Sony’s goal is to manage not only the volume, but also quality of audio.
While the audio is better than other premium and thin TVs, better detail would have perhaps won this TV the top prize.
The Sony X9350D produces good contrast ratios and is quite bright. While audio is its USP, the TV excels in picture quality as well. Contrast ratios are high and the colour space is pretty wide too. The TV comes with Netflix pre-installed and 720p and 1080p content is upscaled quite well.
Android TV is kind of a weakness, though. The TV is slow and you’ll have to deal with the constant loading screens when switching between apps and navigating around.
Sony’s “wedge design” allows a slim form factor at the top and is thicker near the bottom. This of course is to accommodate the speakers, and it gives the TV an unique look, which would fit any media centre.
The Sony X9350D also costs about half of the Z9D, which means you get to save a ton of cash. Still, Rs.2,84,900 is not something all of us can afford, but if you can afford this one, it’s a very good television to buy.

Television

4K UHD TVs

December 17, 2015 — by Digit

The best of the best in terms of display technology boxes meant for your living room

This year’s CES proved that televisions are not dying anytime soon and what followed was a plethora of some of the best TVs that we have seen since plasmas. Our top TVs for this year are hard to get and you’ll probably be enjoying them in showrooms for the time being, but they’re a sign of things to come and we are loving it.

Zero1 Winner: LG 4K Curved OLED TV

Take heed videophiles, plasma has finally been outdone. The OLED technology that LG employs in its new UHD televisions is better than plasma televisions of lore. And that is why this LG TV is the winner of this year’s Zero1 Awards. It achieves a contrast ratio of 81330:1 at 50% brightness, which beats the best out by a pretty mile. The white levels lie at 6900K, as close as it gets to the desired 6500K level. In addition, OLED tech allows LG to eliminate motion blurs, which is really good news for gamers. Turning off a pixel achieves true black for LG, so in movies like Gravity, outer space looks like nothing you’ve ever seen on television.
What’s more? The TV may breathe life into LG’s once defunct WebOS again. The company’s OS operates on this, making it one of three TV OSes to watch out for right now. It’s really smooth and works without any glitches. If you haven’t used a smart operating system before then it’ll take some getting used to, but once that is done, you wouldn’t want your TV to operate in any other way.
Price: Rs. 3,84,900

Second place: Samsung Curved SUHD TV

This UHD TV made us rethink our stance on curved televisions. Apart from the curved body, it is beautifully constructed and quite easy to assemble. It runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS, which the company has also been trying on phones. Unlike the phone though, the OS works quite well on the TV and the motion-controlled remote is quite easy to get used to.
Before the LG 4K OLED came into the Digit Test Labs, this Samsung TV was amongst the best that we’d ever tested. The 1100:1 contrast ratio is still amongst the best, but it’s behind the TV mentioned above. It achieves a maximum brightness of 302.9 cd/m2 and even though it doesn’t have an OLED panel, it comes pretty darn close to it in terms of black levels.
It upscales 1080p and 1080i content to UHD and does a really good job of it. We even used a PS4 to game on it and found no judder or response lag issues. If you carry a select few Samsung phones, then this TV has some added screen mirroring functions that you can take advantage of, and they are work quite well. A joy to behold, this Samsung SUHD TV!
Price: Rs. 4,40,000

Best Buy : Sony W950C Android TV

The third of the three big TV OSes, Android TV is being used by Sony in all of its new televisions. While this Sony TV still costs a pretty penny, it’s hard to argue against the picture quality and other performance aspects. If Sony could have provided 4K support for this price, we would perhaps have considered this to be the winner of our Zero1 awards this year as well.
When we started reviewing this TV, we were worried about the lack of 4K support, but we soon realised that Sony’s focus was on quality and not the quantity of pixels. The wide colour gamut and very good black levels allows it to achieve a better contrast ratios than most of its competitors. In addition, it doesn’t oversaturate colours like many other TVs on the market today. If you’re a fan of true to source colours on whatever you watch, then this is the TV or you.
On top of all of this is Android TV, which is really easy to use. Amongst the three TV OSes mentioned here, Android TV is perhaps the easiest to get used to, and with Google behind it, we think it would get more content support.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the TV also delivers excellent sound quality, ensuring that you won’t need to buy extra speakers with it.
Price: Rs. 1,32,000