HDTV Buying Guide:

hdtv

With Memorial Day quickly approaching, people of all ages prepare for their big trip to the lake, beach, swimming pool, or other annual event.  While some people use their day off to relax and officially kick-off the summer, it is also a day filled with retail deals and sales.

And what many people don’t realize is that it is one of the best times of the year to upgrade your television.

As it does in nearly any electronic, the technology in televisions continues to evolve every year.  Luckily, we are here to provide a buying guide to help you get the BEST TV for your home. In this buying guide we will focus on 4 main categories:

Size:

It’s often the biggest argument between couples and families when purchasing a new TV.  How big is really too big?  The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommends multiplying the distance away from your television (in inches) by 0.625.  With an average viewing distance of 9 feet (108 inches), this would give a TV size of about 68 inches or a 65/70 in. TV.

TV Type:

After size, the type of TV is typically the largest driver in price.  There are 3 main types of televisions being made today with one more just beginning to hit the market.

  • LCD: These are lit by CCFLs or cold cathode fluorescent lamps.  While they have been surpassed in technology by LEDs, they still exist in lower priced and entry level TV models.
  • LED: The same technology of LCDs, but are lit by LED or light emitting diodes instead. These are typically more power efficient and have a better contrast than LCDs. As we have mentioned in previous articles, LEDs are the future of lighting in nearly any application and are a great TV option.
  • Plasma: An older technology that uses glass panels with millions of tiny cells filled with gases.  Superior to LCD in contrast and color but usually only available in TVs 42 inches and larger.  While these are beginning to be produced less and less, they often provide the best picture quality for the price.
  • OLED: TVs made with Organic Light Emitting Diodes can produce the best picture quality to date and have extremely thin panels.  With this technology just beginning to penetrate the market, OLED TVs are only for consumers with a significant budget to work with.

Resolution:

  • HDTV: Most televisions today are sold as High-Definition TVs.  The range of anywhere from 720-1080 refers to the number of vertical pixels along the television.  The letter i or p that follows the number refers to either interlaced or progressive scanning.
  • Traditionally progressive is better than interlaced and the difference from 720 to 1080 depends on your viewing distance.  If you sit further away from your television, you likely wont notice while those who prefer to sit close to their television may be able to see the difference between the two.

Other Options:

  • Smart TV: Adding the Smart TV option can be a nice addition with the added “apps”.  However, these features can easily be supplemented by a device such as a Roku, Apple TV, or game system.  If you plan on having one of these devices connected, a Smart TV may not be needed.
  • Thickness: Depending on the location of the television, the panel thickness can be very important.  Planning on mounting it on your wall or above the fireplace? A thin panel TV is likely preferred to save space and weight.  Already have an entertainment center for the TV? You may be able to save some money by buying a thicker paneled TV.
  • # of HDMI Ports:  If you plan on having multiple devices hooked up to your television, make sure that you buy a TV with multiple HDMI inputs.  But don’t be fooled by the salesman’s pitch on expensive HDMI cables and remember that All HDMI Cables Are Identical.
  • Other Advertising Numbers:  Don’t be misled by many of the other advertising numbers such as aspect ratio, speed, and color options.  While these may provide some difference between the televisions, there are very few regulations around these claims and they can mean very different things depending on the manufacturer/brand.

After determining which size, type, and features you need in your new TV, it always recommended to read online reviews to ensure your potential television passes not just the specification test, but also the visual and home tests.

 

Do you have any other questions about televisions and their differences?  What do you look for in a new TV?  Let us know!

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