One of the big challenges of watching television in the digital era is the constant juggling between remotes, one of the TV and the other the set top box. Airtel and Samsung are trying to fix this what they call the Integrated Digital television or iDTV. The concept of integrating the set-top-box is not really new as Videocon has these television in its DTH offering for years now. But for the first time it is being attempted on a smart television.
The iDTV option is available in 32, 40 and 48 inches. The review unit I got was a 40-inch Samsung Series 5 5570 Smart TV. The problem with large screen televisions is that you will hate it if the transmission is not up to it. I have been using a 40-inch television for a couple of years and have rarely watched anything that is not in 1080p Full HD transmission, because I am not a big fan of watching pixellated visuals. The Samsung Smart TV has a Full HD display and great audio to back it.
Being a smart TV, I could easily connect it to my Wi-Fi and login to services like YouTube, Spul and BoxTV. The TV comes with Twitter and Facebook apps too, but I am against the idea of doing something so personal on such a large screen. You can easily switch from Live TV to a app-based television or just the best of YouTube. The remote is easy to use, but had a lot of buttons that don’t seem to do anything.
The biggest difference, and advantage, of the iDTV is the fact that there is just one remote to deal with. You use the Samsung remote to control the TV and since the set-top-box is integrated, if you change channels on the television you actually go to another channel and not static. The guide buttons takes you to the electronic programme guide and you can browse through channels as well as a timeline of programmes with details. The guide also lets you schedule programmes, but there is no option to record them.
The Smart TV buttons gives you access to apps as well as the most viewed channels, a feature you will never see in a regular television. The visuals are definitely better for the HD channels, but the other channels are better than what I get with my cable provider. There is a slight lag when switching through channels and that I think is more than what you would experience with regular DTH. But it is not something you can’t live with.
The Airtel iDTV option is good for those who are looking to pick up a television and DTH combo, especially since there are no extra installation costs invloved. The solution is hassle-free and reduces the tangle of wires behind your screen. The wires and the box become a bigger issues, more to do with aesthetics, when you are planning to mount the large screen on a wall. I just hope Airtel had offered a data pack to go with the iDTV so that consumers to unleash the full potential of the smart TV.