The availability of cheap data has meant that you can consume the content of your choice on the screen you want. And while India is watching more content than ever on the mobile phone, the lure of the big screen has stayed. A visit to your neighbourhood multiplex is par for the course for many movie buffs, but there are some who like their viewing experience better with a bucket of popcorn at home. If you like to pick your own content to watch in your own time, here are five products you should check out:
BenQ CinePrime W5700
The black matte finish and heft of this projector oozes class and confidence. I hooked it up to a Tata Sky HD+ box and my Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. The good thing with this projector is that one of its USB ports can also power the Fire TV stick. I watched a few football and cricket matches and some travel programmes in full high definition and was blown away by the vivid, yet lifelike, colours. While I’d watched matches hooked up to a projector earlier, watching amazing destinations on this meant I’d never be satisfied watching them on any TV. I also watched the Netflix series Lost in Space, which is in 4K, and had a truly cinematic experience since the projector was also hooked up to a Bose Lifestyle 650 home theatre system. Yes, one needs an external audio output since the projector—which is meant to be used in a home theatre setup—doesn’t have a speaker. But the W5700 ran cool and quiet the entire time.
I also watched Marco Polo and Black Mirror on Netflix, and Mozart in the Jungle and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime Video. While I loved the immersive experience, I did notice the darker scenes looked better on an OLED TV; but since I was projecting the images on a wall, that could also be the reason for this. Next, I hooked up my trusted old Sony PlayStation 3, which is a great UHD player with 3D support. Watching the Prometheus Blu-ray was engrossing, but again I felt that the darker scenes were more enjoyable on an OLED screen. That said, I loved the fact that I had the option of watching my The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in 3D, but since I didn’t have active shutter glasses lying around, I had to give it a miss.
Small touches such as a backlit remote and vertical and horizontal shift controls make operating it and setting it up a dream. The BenQ CinePrime W5700 is a valued addition to your home theatre setup, and well worth its price tag.
Price: ₹2.99 lakh
Sony Bravia OLED KD-55A8F
Yes, this is an old warhorse and is likely to have a successor as we speak. But this 55-inch TV still packs a punch, especially if you love watching dark and dreary stuff. But first, lets talk about how thin the screen is and yet Sony is able to pack in speakers and other features. That said, the sound is good to watch sports, the news and shows in a relatively quiet room. But if you want to unleash the full power of the TV, pair it with a soundbar. I paired it with Sony’s HT-ST5000, since they worked very well for Dolby Atmos-enabled viewing. I also connected the TV to my Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, Tata Sky HD+ box, and Sony PlayStation 3.
I loved the details while watching football and cricket matches, and travel programmes. While the colour palette might be too rich for some, it shines when you watch something like Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge! or Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. At the same time, Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix or The Romanoffs on Amazon Prime Video were a delight to watch. And, Criminal Justice on Hotstar, with its play of light and shadows, was an enjoyable experience. The Prometheus Blu-ray never looked better on any TV, while watching the Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back Blu-ray transported me right to the heart of the make-believe world of George Lucas. But what knocked my socks off was watching Netflix’s Lost in Space on this TV. Paired with Sony’s HT-ST5000, it unleashed the full spectrum of Dolby Atmos sound and vision. Every detail of the planet, every whisper, and even the fight scenes in the dark, the setup performed beautifully.
A caveat: To get Dolby Atmos to work on this setup, you will need to log in to Netflix on the TV, and not on the Fire TV Stick.
Since this is an Android TV, it gives you a lot more options, but could take longer to turn on. But its versatility is well worth the wait. The Sony Bravia OLED KD-55A8F may be on its last legs in the production cycle, but it is a worthy investment, especially if you can pick it up at a discount.
Price: ₹3.29 lakh
Weston 65” 4K Smart LED TV
If you crave for a big screen but don’t want to blow a hole in your pocket, you have to look beyond the global names. This TV, which is a brand many of us have grown up with in the 1980s, is big, black, and hefty. Once you get over the 65-inch screen, you’d love the fact that its feet have the option of curving inwards if your table isn’t very big. There’s enough space between the TV and the table, so placing a soundbar in front won’t block your TV’s screen as is wont with the Sony TV we reviewed. The Android-based user interface boots up faster than Android TVs. But you get a limited number of native apps, and many aren’t optimised for the big screen. That said, if you can tinker with the rather unfriendly interface, you just might be able to access the NAS drives on the network, and therefore get access to pictures and music you may have stored there.
The TV is quite loud and you can do without a soundbar if you want; but its better to have a soundbar as clarity is a massive improvement over the TV’s loud speakers. I hooked up my Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Tata Sky HD+ box to the TV and watched several cricket matches and some international football on it. Nothing quite beats watching sports on the big screen and after I returned the review unit, I was virtually squinting to watch matches on my regular 40-inch TV. That said, watching movies and shows on this turned out to be a bit of a downer as there was a lag between the video and the sound, something I obviously didn’t notice while watching sports. I read up on this and found that there are some ways to solve it. But not everyone may be ready to jump through the hoops to sync the sound. The TV performed decently while watching darker scenes, though trying to adjust the picture could leave you feeling constrained.
The Weston 65” 4K Smart LED TV brings you a big screen at a reasonable price, but you might like to look at other options before you put your money down for this.
There are times when you need to travel, and while you can watch your favourite shows or matches on your mobile device, nothing quite beats the big-screen experience. For such occasions, you could turn to this portable and light projector, which comes with its own stand, which doubles up as a screen protector when you’re carrying it. Hook it up to your laptop, and you have a big screen on tap. The sharp picture is equally at ease with spreadsheets and sitcoms, and the built-in Harman Kardon speaker ensures that you don’t miss any dialogues.
The best part is that since this is a short-throw projector, you don’t need to place it a long distance away from the screen, which could be the wall in your hotel room. While this projector may lack many of the features the other devices on this list may have, it more than makes up for that with its portability and ease of use. ViewSonic bundles in all the necessary cables for this projector in the box and I had a wonderful catching up on the episodes of Suits I had missed.
The ViewSonic M1 projector can be your trusted travel companion if you can’t do without your daily dose of big-screen entertainment.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
One device that stayed a constant while reviewing most of the products on the list was this one. The device has come a long way since it launched last year. With support for screen mirroring and YouTube, it makes for a complete package which has few peers. In fact, for people like me who have to review a lot of TVs and other viewing devices, it is a godsend; shifting TVs is as simple as unplugging and plugging the Fire TV Stick, without the need to log in to a plethora of streaming services on every device you review.
The 4K version of the device makes viewing a pleasure as long as you have a steady internet connection and a decent viewing medium. The ability to use Alexa to search is great, while you can easily cast any video to the device from a PC. And with support for most of the streaming apps available in India, this makes for a device you can’t afford to not have.