The inbuilt media player claims to handle a whole load of video codecs and containers ranging from the usual XVID and MPEG2 codecs in AVI and DAT containers, to the more popular codecs such as H.264 and MPEG4 in Matrovska (MKV) and Flash Video (FLV) containers. Additionally, proprietary formats such as Quicktime and Real Media are said to be supported as well. In reality though, the player had issues recognising and playing back some of the video formats in my collection. Audio playback, however, is restricted to MP3 only. The TV detects flash drives, in addition to portable hard drives. The player UI may be slow, clunky, and unrefined, but it gets the job done.
The million dollar question is: does this Full HD (1080p) panel priced at almost half a lakh deliver the performance of a panel costing, well, almost half a lakh? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding no. How bad is it, you ask? Well, if right now you could run over to Compare India and look up LED-backlit LCD TVs from Sony, Samsung, LG, and Panasonic priced between Rs 45,000–52,000—absolutely every single result coughed up by the website would provide better video fidelity than the Micromax LED42K316 LED TV.
The picture quality disappoints
Even before I ran my battery of tests, I could tell that the TV's colour and gamma values deviated significantly from the ideal range. However, what's even worse is the panel's inability to deliver a sharp image. The display was consistently blurry when I connected it to any PC through the HDMI port. It's the same kind of blurriness you experience when a display is set to a non-native mode. I tried different systems with onboard and discrete NVIDIA/AMD graphics, but the problem persisted with varying levels of fuzziness being recorded across different systems.
Going purely by performance, the display exhibits the characteristics of a 6-bit TN panel. The Micromax LED42K316, however, took extensive fiddling around with the display profile using Datacolor's Spyder colorimeter and calibration software to achieve acceptable picture quality. That's a pyrrhic victory though. Since the TV doesn't allow individual adjustment of RGB values, this correction cannot be ported to non-PC devices that lack the advantage of customisable display profiles. To put it bluntly, unless you plan to use this 42" TV as a PC monitor—which you most likely will not—there is no conceivable means to salvage its poor picture quality.
The display's true calibre, or the lack of it, was laid bare thanks to a battery of image tests from Lagom.nl and DisplayMate. The viewing angles were less than spectacular, with a significant colour shift being apparent even for small deviations from the perfect seating position. The black detail levels were sub-par, while the saturation across the various grades of white wasn't uniform or pure either. The greyscale gradient pattern revealed a worrying amount of banding and discolouration/impurity. On the colour front, the TV had a hard time distinguishing the last 30% of the gradient spectrum.
The TV suffers from a significant amount of backlight bleed
This poor showing points towards a combination of factors such as bad LCD panel, excessive and inaccurate dithering, poor colour lookup table, and overall weak image processing hardware. No matter what the cause, at the end of the day though you're left with an unsatisfying picture quality. To make matters worse, the TV displayed a noticeably high degree of backlight bleed. This was all the more conspicuous in movies and games with an abundance of darker scenes.
The Descent Blu-ray, with its subterranean cave setting, was a perfect example of how annoying the backlight bleed can get. The TV's anaemic black levels made a mess of the greyscale detail within Alien, Pandorum, and Underworld Blu-rays. Skin tones and whites were noticeably off in the rest of my test suite as well. It is only in Blu-rays such as Suck, where the colours are deliberately desaturated, was the display able to put up acceptable performance. However, the bottom-line remains that the Micromax LED-backlit TV isn't the best choice if you seek better black levels and colour fidelity.
On the audio front, the TV fares just as poorly as most modern flat-panel displays. Fortunately, the inclusion of SRS modes and a 5-band EQ gives you enough room to tweak the audio output to your tastes. Having said that, you're better off buying speakers separately, and that's true for any flat-panel television.
The UI is simple and easy to navigate
Verdict and Price in India
Micromax's main USP, and arguably the sole reason for its success, is its penchant to deliver top-end features and functionality at bottom-end prices. Micromax LED42K316 LED TV, however, deviates wildly from that winning formula. At an MRP of Rs 47,990 (and the best street price of Rs 46,490 that I could find), it is priced dangerously close to similar offerings from established players such as Samsung, Sony, LG, and Panasonic. Just think about it: why would a consumer spend almost half a lakh on an unproven brand when he can buy a 42" LED from LG (LG 42LS4600) for nearly the same price, give or take a few hundred rupees? I just don't see the incentive here for someone to put their money down on this particular TV, and not the other half-dozen alternatives from well-known LCD TV players.
Micromax clearly doesn't offer better build and design, or improved image quality to compel a purchase. Neither is it highly regarded for cutting edge R&D or solid after sales service. The only reason why it would have made sense, is if it were cheap—significantly cheap, to be honest, considering its poor performance. Bottomline? Don't buy this TV unless you stand to get a massive discount. Even then, I'd recommend pulling your couch closer and buying a smaller, but higher quality TV set.