Wondering how to buy a TV with all the new styles and features available? The HDTV Buying guide contains everything you should know before you buy a new TV. Topics such as the different screen technologies, styles, features, and everything in between will make sure you take advantage of everything modern televisions have to offer.
Contrary to popular beleif, bigger is not always better. The truth is, there is such thing as too big when it comes to televisions. A TV that is too large will dominate the room and look awkwardly out of place. Consider the size of the room and how far away the viewers are seated from the screen. Use the calculator below to determine how far the viewer should be, based on screen size or viewing distance. When it comes to screen size, you must determine your perfect balance between size and clarity. However, you may just decide to get the largest screen for your money. Figure out which is more important to you and go from there.
HDTV Screen Size & Distance Calculator
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)LCD televisions consume less power than plasma and work well (models with matte screens work best) in bright rooms and handle glare fairly well. They also tend to be the least expensive of the three options. Typically available in sizes ranging from 19 to 65 inches, LCD televisions suffer in dark rooms due to a lack of back-lighting and have a narrower viewing angle, and an inability to achieve true black picture quality.
Best For: Anyone looking for an inexpensive television with solid picture quality in a bright room where picture flaws aren’t quite as visible as they are in dark rooms.
LED (Light Emitting Diode)
LED televisions represent next generation LCD technology. Their superior brightness comes from their LED back-lighting technology which allows them to perform well in both light and dark rooms, and deliver the best color levels and contrast ratio. LED televisions consume less power than LCD and plasma models, and typically have a thinner back. Models start around 32 inches and can have improved picture quality but, come at a higher price tag.
Best For: Those who don’t mind spending more for thinner panels, and brighter picture, with superior backlightin, and don't want plasma..
The original flat-screen technology, plasma televisions boast improved black-level performance, uniformity, and viewing angle. They also have high contrast ratios and tend to have superior motion resolution. The downside to plasma is their high power consumption, lack-luster performance in bright rooms with glare, and an irreparable back light.
Best For: Videophiles and gamers who place a premium on dark-room picture quality
Don't Get Burned With Plasma TVs!
In plasma television’s early beginnings, problems like “screen-burn,” and glare distortion plagued many but, with improvements in plasma technology, that is a thing of the past. When you watched a program with say, a static menu or station logo on the bottom right hand corner of the screen, for an extended amount of time, the pixels, “burnt” into the screen, would persist even when the channel was changed. New models use a pixel shifting method that prevents images from burning into the screen that involves an adjustment of pixels - invisible to the naked eye. New anti-glare technology , like angled glass, prevent glare distortion.
TV Combos are an excellent selection of TVs for anyone that is looking to add function and save space, Perfect for a kitchen or dorm room, TV combos are flat panel TVs with built-in DVD players, typically located on the side of the unit.
Projection TVs work similarly to the way that projectors in movie theaters do. The projector is mounted on the ceiling facing a projector screen. The image from the projector is then beamed onto a specialized screen. The better the screen, the better the image resolution. A painted, flat wall will work but, a true projector screen will have the best results. A great benefit to owning a projection TV is its large picture sizes and authentic cinema feel. Yes, you can play video games through these projectors as well.
A 3D feature allows viewers to enjoy their favorite 3D content from the comfort of their home. Providing they have a 3D content component (Blu-ray or some television networks), and a pair of 3D glasses, they can enjoy everything 3D has to offer. Some TVs also have 2D to 3D conversion features that convert traditional 2D content to 3D. Converted content isn’t as effective as true 3D, but it makes for a greater selection of 3D TV, sports, and movies.
Resolution measures the quality of the television’s picture and uses numbers like 720 and 1080 to represent the lines of pixels within the screen. To calculate the total number of pixels in a screen, you have to multiply the horizontal by vertical lines. So, a TV with a 1080x1920 resolution has 2,073,600 pixels. More pixels equate to better picture.
You will also see an “i” or a “p” at the end of the resolution number. These stand for interlaced and progressive; two different scanning processes that render video. Interlacing systems splits the picture into even and odd horizontal lines and alternately refreshes them 30 times a seconds to render the picture. The superior progressive system scans the entire picture, line by line, every sixtieth of a second to display twice the picture information of an interlaced system.
There is a process called de-interlacing that converts interlaced picture to progressive, but it's not as effective as a true progressive scanning system. Remember, no matter the resolution of your screen, the picture will only be as clear as the content being shown. If recorded at a resolution of 720, using a 1080 TV will not get a better picture.
Refresh Rate (120Hz, 240Hz, and 480Hz technology)
Dymanic sports, games, and action films bring your televisionto life; they also demand the most performance. The refresh rate (measured in Hz) of a television measures the speed at which the image on the screen refreshes so your eyes see clear movement, instead of a blur behind a moving object, or motion blur. The higher your refresh rate, the less chance you have of seeing motion blur. Clear Motion Rate, by Samsung, is a newer standard for measuring motion clarity that takes into account the refresh rate, as well as the quality of the image processor, and the backlight technology of the unit, for a more in-depth and comprehensive measurement.
Take note of the number and type of connections available on your TV of choice. Most modern HD devices (Blu-ray players, game consoles, etc.) require one HDMI or component-video connection. Make sure your television has enough ports for all your devices. Older devices (VCRs, DVD Players, etc.) may use S-Video or RCA composite inputs, so plan accordingly.
High definition audio components (home theaters, soundbars, etc.) use an optical fiber connection, or optical cable, which carries a strong HD signal from the TV. Just like their digital coaxial counterparts, they produce 5.1 surround sound but cannot handle the ultra-HD sound of a Blu-ray.
When connecting a computer or laptop, an HDMI connection is best but if you need to conserve HDMI inputs or have none left, a DVI or VGA connection will work. Digital Video Interface (DVI) is a high quality cable that carries both audio and video, while a Video Graphic Array (VGA) cable will only carry video.
USB ports can be used for connecting digital cameras or camcorders for quick playback, or for connecting hard drives full music, movies, and photos to play and watch. They can also be used to connect a wireless adapter, or dongle, to a TV with internet capabilities for a Wi-Fi connection. Essentially, any device with a USB connection can be plugged in; the results just depend on your TV's capabilities.
The network/LAN hardwires your television, via Ethernet cable, to your home internet connection. It can plug into a modem, router, extender, or adapter and is perfect for TV's with smart capabilities that don't have built-in Wi-Fi (if you don’t use an adapter).
The current trend in televisions is full internet and application access through either a hardwired (Ethernet) or Wi-Fi (built-in or via adapter). Manufacturer definition of “internet capabilities” differs so be sure to clarify when choosing an internet TV or, as they commonly referred too, a smart TV. Some TVs use the connection solely for operating native widgets like local weather and YouTube, not full internet browsers.
Truly “connected” television operates much like a smart phone. Users have access to wealth of online features including streaming media, web browsing, games, and applications like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The most important feature of connected TVs is their IPTV capability. IPTV will allow for greater control over your viewing options with improved time-shifting and on-demand features. Current models feature hands-free controls, voice-recognition, and native applications designed to keep you in-shape and your kids educationally entertained. A completely engaging experience, a smart TV is the perfect home theater centerpiece and family hub.
Wireless Display Technologies
TVs with wireless display technologies such as Wireless Display (WiDi) or Digital Living Network Alliance (DNLA), have the ability to stream content from another (compatible) wireless device, like a laptop or tablet. Users can stream music, movies, pictures and more by activating the corresponding modes on both devices.
What was once used to simply watch multiple programs on one screen has transformed into much more. Depending on the TV, you may have the option of plugging a computer into the TV with a Video Graphics Array (VGA) cable, or HDMI, and your TV instantly can split its screen into two parts so you can use a computer/laptop and watch TV at the same time. This also works with video game systems.
The V-Chip, now an industry standard, gives parents total control by allowing them to determine which ratings are appropriate for their children and block out the rest.
Large screens are nice for gaming, except when they become too large for proper controller-to-television communication, resulting in extended buffering or in gamer terms, "lag". Units with a dedicated gaming mode will reduce buffering to create a real-time experience. Gaming modes also reduce the brightness of the screen, decreasing the risk of retained images, or screen burn.
Now, you've found your perfect TV . It fits beautifully in the room, has the perfect picture, and all the features you dreamed of, now what? The right accessories will enhance the look and experience of the unit while protecting, maintaining, and extending the life of its flawless design. What's a perfect TV without the perfect show or game to watch? The right content-providing components will keep you entertained for hours.
Proper screen care is vital to extending the life of your television. Avoid products that contain alcohol as it will erode the special glass of the screen. Instead, choose a water-based screen cleaner and a micro fiber cloth to remove fingerprints and dust. Don't worry, we've got you covered. Check out our selection of screen care products to keep your new, or old, TV looking stunning for years to come.
Mounts and Stands
Integrate your HDTV into your decor by mounting it flush against the wall or displaying it on a elegant entertainment stand. Several different kinds of mounts are available that can allow you to simply tilt the screen, or completely rotate it to match any viewing angle. Browse the selection of mounts and stands to find the one that matches your style.
HDMI and A/V Cables
No matter what you are connecting to the TV, it is going to require the right cables. Higher quality cables have less interference and deliver a stronger signal, which means better picture and crisper audio. Determine what kind of cables you are going to need and shop Abt's A/V and HDMI cables accordingly. Not sure which one you need? Check out our Video Cable Buying Guide or HDMI Cable Buying Guide.
Protect the investment of your television by ensuring that power surges don't fry out the circuitry of the unit. A proper surge protector will keep the power levels consistent even during lightening storms, which can not only keep your TV safe, but can save you money over time by lowering your energy consumption. Shop Abt's complete selection for surge protectors. Not sure what you need? Check out our Surge Protector Buying Guide.
As your entertainment system is sure to be made up several different components, a single universal remote will consolidate all remotes into one simple master control. Remote controls can be very simple and straightforward, to more detailed, higher-end models with features like touch screen navigation. Don't worry about losing four or five remotes, condense them into one with a universal remote control.
A proper antenna can help you avoid fuzzy screens while adding more channels at the same time. With the new digital standard, 100's of digital channels broadcasted, and can be picked up using an external indoor/outdoor digital antenna. HD radio antennas will also bring the freedom and choice of satellite radio directly to your entertainment system. Pick out your perfect antenna and enjoy the extra entertainment. Our Antenna Buying Guide will help you make the right choice.
Find the right content!
DVD and Blu-ray players bring the magic of the movies to your family room. Digital streaming devices bring the best content from around thet net into one simple device. Gaming consoles can bring you 3D action, Netflix, and more from one device. A satellite receiver and a digital video recorder will give you hundreds of HD channels and the freedom to record your favorite programs. Each content provider has its own benefits and its up to you to find the right product for your style. Perfect picture is nothing without equally perfect sound. Consider a speaker package, home theater system, or a soundbar to complete your home theater package.
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