Saturday, October 21, 2006

Inaugural Post

The idea for this blog came out of the frustration I experienced while researching high fidelity equipment - both audio and video - in India. While there exists a ton of information and reams of reviews and product information on high fidelity audio and video equipment outside India, primarily in the US, there is a serious dearth of material specific to the Indian market. Surprisingly even some of the well known brands and Fortune 500 electronics giants are rather sparse and terse when it comes to their India web sites. Also the vendors market the same product with different product names and model numbers across various countries - making it that much harder to compare models available in India and elsewhere.

The idea for this blog was born out of this lack of information about hi-fi products in the India market - to try and collate as much useful information and links to resources as I could and share my findings with the rest of you out there in India who are looking for similar information. The idea is to spend at least a couple of hours every week and reach out to the audiophile community in India and see how it goes.

To give you some concrete examples of the frustration that I had to go through:

XBox 360: I was looking to find detailed product information on the XBox 360 in India. The XBox 360 India site is adequate but not very useful if you want to find out whether the XBox is a region free DVD player like most of the other DVD players available in India (it is not) and if you are looking to get hold of a S-Video XBox Adapter (it simply doesn't list it as an accessory available in India).

In my case I needed to to connect the PAL version of the XBox available in India to my NTSC TV that only has composite and S-Video inputs. The default cable that comes with XBox has composite and component outputs only. After a lot of search and calling up the distributor, I found that the S-Video connector is currently not available in India.

Also the official web site does not mention (at during a cursory search) that the XBox will only play DVD's that are region 5 (and of course all region) encoded. I have a bunch of Region 3 DVD's that are available in stores like CrossWords in Pune, and those won't play on my XBox. I originally planned to use the XBox as my region free DVD player, replacing my older Xbox as well as my Sony DVP S500D DVD player which are all locked to the US region, having purchased them in the US.

So it was really frustrating after hooking up my Xbox to find that (a) the only connection option to my TV was composite - which is the lowest video quality (b) my XBox wouldn't play DVD's other than region 5 or all region. To compound my problems, I also had to figure out the PAL -> NTSC conversion to get my PAL Xbox to output to the NTSC TV.

So at the moment I have an Xbox 360 that only plays region 5 DVD's, is connected via composite video to my TV and requires PAL->NTSC conversion due to non-availability of the S-Video connector. Kind of fun figuring it all out - but would have incurred the wrath of the wife if I didn't manage to get all the bits working together.

My XBox 360 experience can be found on this blog - XBox 360 - Trick or Treat?

Hitachi Plasma: I am also in the market for a plasma at the moment - the one that looked interesting and was on my list was the 42PD8900TA - however go to the Hitachi India website and you draw a blank - the model is not even listed there, as of this blog posting, let alone any product specifications or information. I was finally able to get the information I needed from a friendly retailer in Pune.

Panasonic Plasma: The Panasonic Viera range of plasma TV's were launched with a lot of fanfare and billboards in Pune, but go to their website and try to locate a dealer in Pune and you will draw a complete blank - it just doesn't work and returns no results for Pune. I tried Mumbai thinking that perhaps they were still setting up operations in Pune - but drew a blank there too. That's when I figured out how important the India market was for Panasonic. I finally located the Pune dealer from one of their recent ads in What Hi*Fi Sound and Vision - currently my favourite magazine for audio video products in India - only to find out that the realy interesting models are not yet available and are at least a month away.

Thanks for staying awake through my rant, with that out of the way, here are the key objectives for this blog, as I see it:

  • Find and share resources about various hi-fidelity audio and video equipment in India
  • Share information about new audio/video product launches in India
  • Attempt to discuss and understand some of the technology underlying these products
  • Share configuration and connection settings and tweaks for various products
  • Share opinions and experiences with dealers, support network and retail stores in India

I am open to other ideas here as long as they fall well within the broad ambit of the charter of this blog. With that out of the way, here's to more adventures in high fidelity.

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