LCD, LED, HDMI, 3D, 1080p, 4K? Looking for a new television, but drowning in acronyms? Here’s what you need to know when you shop for your next HDTV.
Understanding the basics will help you make your choice (and your video) crystal clear, so here’s what you should consider when shopping for your next HDTV.
Plasma or LCD? And What About LED?
Plasma TVs were the only flat-panel models available when they were first introduced more than a decade ago. But given the remarkable rise in the popularity of LCD TVs in the past couple of years, many manufacturers have stopped making plasma sets, while the remaining players—LG, Panasonic, and Samsung—are shifting toward producing larger screen sizes and plasma-based 3D TVs.
The popularity of LCD TVs can be attributed to some of the technology’s inherent advantages over plasma, including a wider range of screen sizes, a very bright picture, and better energy efficiency. And LED-backlit LCDs offer even greater energy efficiency and are often thinner than CCFL-based LCDs, especially edge-lit LED models. But LED-based sets can suffer from some picture uniformity issues like ‘blooming’, where lighter parts of the picture bleed into darker ones, reducing overall black levels.
Plasma’s strengths include its very dark blacks, and overall picture consistency, which (unlike CCFL or LED) doesn’t exhibit color shifts, loss of saturation, or reduced contrast when viewed at wider angles. With plasma you don’t need to be front and center to have the best seat in the house. And a plasma’s fast-pulsing pixels are inherently well-suited for minimizing detail loss in fast motion like action films or live sports. Also, plasma can give you good bang for your buck if you want a really big screen.
Choose Your Resolution
Right now, 1080p resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels, progressively scanned) is the pinnacle for consumer home-theater material, and all other things being equal, you want the screen resolution of your HDTV to match this format in order to provide the most detailed picture possible.
Many factors affect the perception of picture detail, including distance, the quality of your eyesight, and the quality of the video material. At a viewing distance of 12 feet, it would be difficult to distinguish between a 720p and a 1080p display showing the same 1080p video (like a Blu-ray movie) if you have 20/20 vision. 1080p is most critical with bigger screen sizes, where larger numbers of smaller pixels create a more seamless image. It’s less important for screens smaller than 40 inches, since you’d have to sit very close in order to notice the additional details. These days, though, 1080p sets are becoming the norm and no longer command premium prices. If you can afford 1080p, go for it.
Try any of these models from your local rent to own store. Test them out with their ‘try before you buy’ option. Buy a previously rented HD TV for one heck of a deal. Or rent to own one with their 90 days same as cash option saving you tons of bucks.