Plasma & LCD Buyer’s Guide

lcd-tv

If you’re planning to buy a new TV, the sheer amount of choice can be unnerving. Here at suite101.net, we’ve taken the hassle out of making the decision.

The amount of variety present in the current television market can make picking a new TV a difficult choice. But there are a few things to consider when making it that will make the choice much easier.

While it might seem easiest to jump in and buy the biggest television at the best price, care must be taken when picking a set out. There are a few main questions that a consumer must ask themselves when looking for a new TV.

How big a television do I need?

Sure, having a huge screen looks cool to show your friends and family, but a ridiculous sized screen in a small room will leave you with nothing but pain. Experts recommend that the optimum viewing distance for television is a figure of between 2 and 5 times the width of the screen. All you need is a quality tv aerial installation to enjoy the best time watching television.

For example, if you’ve picked up a 60-inch panel (lucky you!), you need to be between 10 and 25 feet away from the screen. Any further away and the details will begin to disappear – but more importantly, any closer and the individual pixels will begin to become noticeable, and eye strain can result from this.

What sort of panel should I buy?

The battle between plasma and LCD televisions has been a long-fought one, and it continues today. The inherent advantages and disadvantages of both types take more than a single section of an article to describe, and Phil Partington has written an informative article on comparing Plasma and LCD.

Resolution

The resolution of the screen can be an important consideration when looking at different models. While almost all models of television boast some level of high definition, there are two definitions of it, and it can be easy to get caught in a trap when looking between them.

Models simply labeled as “HD” will have a screen resolution of 1280×720 or 1366×768. These are often referred to as 720p or 768p. At this resolution, TV will look good, but if you’re planning on watching Blu-rays and other high definition media it might be worth looking to the next level.

When a model is labeled as “Full HD” or “True HD”, it’s guaranteed it will boast a screen resolution of 1920×1080, also known as 1080p. This is the best definition currently available on the consumer market and is fast becoming the status quo in new televisions. It might be more expensive, but the results between the two forms of high definition are noticeable.

Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio is a measure of the difference between the darkest black the television can display and the brightest white. For example, a contrast ratio of 1:1500 means the brightest white is 1500 times as bright as the darkest black. The greater the number, the better, more defined the image will look.

Manufacturers can trick the buyer by the use of “dynamic contrast” in LCD televisions. This technology allows the television’s backlight to darken or brighten in particularly dark or bright scenes, but this causes bright details in a dark scene, for example, to fade, and generally, a dynamic contrast is something to be avoided.

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate refers to how quickly the image on a television screen is updated. The standard number for the refresh rate is 60 or 120Hz, meaning that the image is updated at 60 or 120 times per second.

Plasma televisions also sport a specification known as sub-field drive, also measured in Hertz, but this is not the same as the refresh rate.

Response Time

While the refresh rate might refer to how often the image on television is updated, the response time refers to how long it takes for the television’s individual pixels to change colors. The lower this number the better. LCD televisions have response times of under 12ms, but plasma televisions can go as low as 2ms.

Does it have a tuner?

If you don’t have a set-top box and would like to watch television, a television with a tuner is a must. A television tuner will allow the television to decode television signals and output them on the screen.

If you do have a set-top box, this feature is not one to be taken into consideration.

How many inputs does it have?

In the days of multiple audiovisual devices operating in tandem with the television, the number of inputs is an important consideration. The current standard is HDMI. This digital format transports both the audio and video in one cable. A TV should have at least 2 HDMI inputs, but more may be required depending on how many devices are used.

Conclusion

While the mumbo jumbo and feature lists on television packaging and advertising might seem like too much to handle, there’s really only a small number of features that really should be taken into account.

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