How to buy an HDTV
Itís that time of year again. Youíre
walking around the electronics superstore looking for holiday gifts and
your eyes inevitably stray to those gorgeous high-definition displays
over in the TV section. You forget about the kids and decide itís time
you bought yourself something. Besides, that worn-out looking TV in the
family room should have been retired years ago!
But how do you
decide which HDTV is right for you? There are LCDs, LEDs, DLPs, and
plasmas to choose from. Whatís the difference between 720p and 1080p?
And should you be thinking about a 3D TV?
Despite the numerous
choices, the HDTV market has actually become much more straightforward
over the past couple of years. A lot of the early options are rapidly
disappearing, and manufacturers are concentrating on producing
energy-efficient models at a reasonable price. Here are some tips on
what to look for:
LCD or Plasma? And what about 3D?
plasmas led the way when HDTVs were first introduced, LCD (Liquid
Crystal Display) TVs have mostly won the battle. LCDs offer a wider
range of screen sizes, are more energy efficient, and cost less. If you
find a plasma TV these days, itís likely to be a giant-sized screen or
one of the new 3D sets. LCDs offer better viewing at a variety of
different angles, and a new breed of LED-backlit LCDs are thinner and
even more energy efficient.
DLP (Digital Light Processing) TVs
are still available from companies like Mitsubishi, but they are
bulkier and are concentrated in the super-large sizes.
3D TVs? There really isnít enough 3D programming to justify buying a 3D
TV at the present time. Of course, you can always buy a TV thatís
3D-ready and watch regular HD programming, but you will be paying a
premium price for the occasional 3D sporting event and a not-very-cool-looking
pair of 3D glasses!
Bigger really is better
Hereís a basic
rule of thumb for viewing HDTVs: take the size of the screen in inches,
divide by 5, and thatís the minimum number of feet you need in front of
the TV for comfortable viewing. For example, if you want a 60-inch TV
(measured diagonally across the screen), then you will need 12 feet of
Keeping the above formula in mind, hereís another
rule: go as big as possible. With todayís quality of picture and HD
programming, the bigger the screen, the better the TV-watching
experience. So go as big as your budget will allow. Also, before you buy
a TV, make sure you understand how the set can be adjusted for
different lighting conditions. The lighting in the typical TV showroom
can be very different from your lighting at home.
it comes to resolution, there are two HD formats: 720p (1,280 x 720
pixels) and 1080p (1,920 x 1,080). In simple terms, the higher the
resolution, the better the picture quality. Although it would be hard to
tell the difference on smaller sets, 1080p can make a noticeable
difference on anything bigger than 40-inches. Plus, if you are playing
Blu-ray movies or streaming HD content, itís nice to see them in as sharp a definition as
possible. There was a time when there was a significant price
differential between 720p and 1080p but thatís no longer the case.
most HDTVs now come with multiple In and Out video and audio
connections, you should make sure your TV has enough for your needs. Are
you going to connect a Blu-ray player? How about an Xbox 360 or
PlayStation gaming console? Make sure your TV can handle all your
current multi-media requirements and anything thatís likely to come up
in the projected life of the set. HDMI cables almost always provide a
better connection than composite cables; make sure your TV has enough
HDMI ports for all your peripheral devices.
whether you would like to try one of the many Internet-ready TVs that
have recently come onto the market. These connect to your home network
either wirelessly or via cable and allow you to stream music, download
movies, and access a host of other web-based services.
the many features and the range of screen sizes, HDTVs no longer cost a
fortune. Brand name 40-inch LCD HDTVs are routinely selling for less
than $500. If you are ready to indulge yourself, now is a great time to