What TV should I Buy?

We have put together this guide on what to look for when buying a new TV. This post covers the differences between LCD, LED, and Plasma technology as well as the different aspect ratios. It also explains the whole 3D trend and if you really should consider it.

What You Need to Know

What TV should I Buy?Not long ago, size was the only thing to consider when buying a TV. Now, with many different television options on the market, it can be difficult to make a decision about which to purchase. In this article, I am going to explain the basic television types, the resolutions available, and some information about the new 3D models so your next TV purchase will not be overwhelming.

First, there are three different types of televisions: liquid crystal display (LCD), light-emitting diode (LED), and plasma. So how do you decide which one is right for you?

The main factors to consider are the placement of the TV, the size and lighting characteristics of the room in which it will be placed, and what you will mainly be viewing on it. Planning where the TV will be placed is important in finding the situational factors that will affect your viewing pleasure, making sure to take into account viewing distance and viewing angle along with acoustics.

Industry Definitions

Let’s start with some definitions of terms used around TVs.

Interlaced scanning (The i in 1080i). Each image shown on your television is broken down into 576 horizontal lines on the screen. Interlaced scanning alternates refreshing between the odd- and even-numbered lines at 30 frames per second (fps). This often causes a flickering effect, especially when viewing slow motion videos.

Progressive scanning (The p in 1080p). Progressive scanning refreshes each line on your screen in sequential order (from top to bottom) rather than in alternating order. The overall intent of progressive scan is to increase the refresh rate of the image so that the image quality and motions are more distinct.

HDTV [High Definition TV]. A HDTV is a TV with a resolution of 720p or higher. In order to get HD on your new TV, you need to purchase the proper service plan with your provider. Proper equipment, such as an HDMI cable and compatible cable box, is also needed.

Refresh Rate. The refresh rate is a representation of how many times the image is fully reconstructed every second and is measured in Hertz (Hz). This means a television with a 60Hz refresh rate fully reconstructs the image 60 times every second. The higher the frequency, the closer you can sit to the screen without eye strain.

Now, let’s move to a breakdown of pros and cons of each type of television.

Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD):

LCD TVs are probably the best all-purpose family televisions because they perform well in all types of environments and are perfect for wide ranges of audiences, allowing for everything from watching movies and sporting events to video games. LCD displays are good in environments with lots of lighting because the display screen is not reflective, which means that you will not see the reflection of windows or lights that are in the room. However, if you try watching from certain angles you the image will darken and distort the color. If the TV is going to be used in a smaller room, then this is the type to go with: they are inexpensive, lightweight, and consume less power than plasma TVs.

Pros
1) Non-reflective face
2) Lightweight
3) Use less power
4) Less fragile than Plasma
5) Image will not burn into screen

Cons
1) Response delay may cause fast motion blur
2) Restricted viewing angle
3) Only available up to 46”

Light Emitting Diode (LED):

LED TVs use thousands of LEDs to power which have very long lifespans compared to Plasma and LCD technology. They are more expensive but have brighter colors, deeper blacks, and a more vivid contrast than LCD TVs. This would be an optimal choice for gaming, connecting to a computer, and presentations because it has less motion blur and you don’t need to worry about image burn.

Pros
1) Brighter screen than LCD
2) Theoretical longer lifespan than Plasma or LCD
3) Consume up to 30% less power than Plasma or LCD
4) Less expensive than Plasma

Cons
1) More expensive than LCD
2) Not as good of contrast as Plasma

Plasma:

Plasmas are optimal for setting up a cinema-style home theatre because they provide the best picture and colors in a dark environment. They are only available in limited sizes (42″-65″), so for smaller spaces you are limited to LED or LCD TVs. Plasma TVs are susceptible to image burn, which means that a still image (for example, a DVD menu) left on the screen for an extended period of time can become permanent. Fortunately, the newest plasma models have accounted for this by programming in safeguards to dim the screen or start a screensaver after a set amount of time. Make sure to set the TV to “home” mode in order to consume less energy by cutting down on the brightness levels. Plasma TVs are also warm to the touch if left on for awhile and should be setup with plenty of room for air to circulate around it.

Pros
1) Best for home theatres
2) Most vivid contrast and deepest black levels of the three types

Cons
1) Most expensive type of TV
2) Not as slim or light as alternatives
3) Generates heat
4) Occasionally generates a buzzing sound at high altitudes
5) Can consume as much as twice the amount of power as other TV types

What is 3D All About?

There are two main types of 3D TVs:

Active shutter 3D. Active shutter 3D delivers 1080p HD 3D images. In active shutter 3D, your battery-operated 3D glasses are synchronized by an infrared signal, actively blocking off the image in each eye at 50 fps. This tricks the brain into perceiving depth in a two-dimensional image. However, the glasses require batteries and are expensive. Plus, the active shutter glasses will only work with their own brand of TV.

Passive 3D. Passive 3D filters the light so that each eye sees a different image, creating the illusion of depth. With passive 3D, the glasses are not battery powered, so they are much cheaper than active 3D glasses. There is also no restriction with passive glasses; any passive 3D glasses can be used with any passive 3D TV. However, they do not provide the full 1080p HD experience.

Due to the fact that 3D TVs are such a recent development, they have many high-tech features that most other TVs don’t include. For example, Panasonic TV has developed Viera Cast, which enables the streaming of multimedia straight from the internet to the TV. This includes YouTube, Pandora, and Netflix; some models can even use Skype. If you buy a 3D TV in the near future, it will likely have internet connectivity and the ability to download apps to it.

Pros
1) Performs as well as 2D TVs
2) Has the newest technology
3) Some can convert 2D into 3D

Cons
1) Price
2) Limited 3D content available
3) Need a 3D enabled Blu-ray or DVD player

What to look for when purchasing:

You have chosen where you want the TV to be located, you know what type of entertainment you will be using it for, and you most likely have decided a budget. To sum everything up, if you are setting up a home theatre in a dark setting Plasma is your best option. If you are looking for a large, high-quality TV and price is not a concern, then you can either choose LED or Plasma. If you are trying to find a well-rounded TV for the whole family at a reasonable price or a smaller size, then LCD would be your best bet. Gamers will get the best performance from an LCD or an LED TV; LED will work better if you can afford it, but LCD will perform almost as well as the LED.

Many of you are probably thinking, “Well, what if I want a 3D TV?” Unfortunately, there isn’t much content for them yet. The choice depends on your preference, price range, and planned use.

Here is a chart to help pick screen size based on viewing distance.

Useful TV Buying Sources:

1) CNET – LEDs vs. Plasma vs. LCDs
2) Screen Size Chart
3) Digital Trends- TV Buying Guide
4) Pros and Cons of LED Television over LCD and Plasma TVs
5) Crutchfield – LCD vs. Plasma

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