Looking for the perfect TV for gameday?

November 3, 2010

Written by: Chris Sweda

It is football season (or basketball or hockey whatever) and the guys are coming over to watch next week’s big game. You have everything ready to go but wait, you can’t watch the game on you old Zenith Chroma color! It’s time for an upgrade.

The vast majority of televisions have been built around the same technology: the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). The television image is produced by lighting up different areas of the phosphor coating with different colors at different intensities. But they do have a serious drawback they are bulky consequently, any big-screen CRT television is going to weigh a ton and take up a sizable chunk of a room. That was in the past; today you have a wide range of slim TVs from LCDs to plasma. But which one is the right on for you? Flat screen technology offers basically two types of displays LCD (Liquid crystal display) and Plasma (a gas charged method of lighting pixels).

They look, a lot alike and sound a lot alike… so what is the difference? LCD sizes start in the widest range. Typically 13 to 45 are the most common but some manufacturer’s offer LCD displays in up to 100. Plasma screen sizes, typically, range from 32 to 63. However, like with the LCD, some manufacturers are offering much larger sizes up to 103 if you can afford them. LCD TVs are most versatile, and tend to look better in the typical viewing situations because they do not reflect light like the Plasma screens do. Because LCD TVs are backlit they naturally block outside light in order to create blacks and therefore fare better in natural lighting situations. Plasma pixel, technology produces a much brighter picture with more contrast between the blacks and whites (blacks are blacker and whites are whiter) than LCD technology because the pixels are either all off or all on. However, because of screen reflection, ambient light can nullify all the advantages Plasma has to offer. So consider where you will be viewing your display and the lighting situation that exists there.

The newest technology with LCDs have typical refresh rates of 16ms or less (the lower the number the better). This means that LCD TVs refresh as well as Plasma TVs. Plasma TVs have been known, from the beginning, to have excellent refresh rates and, in the past, significantly outperformed the LCD TVs. However that has changed with newer technology and refresh rate differences for Plasma and LCD TVs are negligible. Some TVs might have a problem with a burn-in effect. What is burn-in you might ask? Simply put, it is a damaged pixel. Newer technology LCD TVs do not have a problem with burn-in. But sometimes still have a ghosting effect because of abnormal pixel charge. Newer technology has reduced the burn-in effect of plasma TVs very significantly by use of pixel orbiter. However, it is recommended that this be one of the issues you discuss with the retailer you purchase your set from.

LCD TVs are quite a bit pricier than Plasma when it comes to big screen (42 and larger). However, if you are looking at the smaller sets (13 to 32) then LCD is your best (and perhaps only) choice. Plasma TVs give you more bang for your buck. But if any of the other considerations above are insurmountable, or if money is not an issue and you want the best possible picture, then LCD is the way to go. Flat screen technology is always changing. What cost $10,000 7-years ago, now cost $400 at your local Wal-Mart today.

It’s becoming more and more important to know how to select a flat panel TV. There are slim, sleek, bright and beautiful TVs that are offering amazing viewing experiences from built-in Internet services to 3D displays. The simple fact is that there will always be newer technology so do your research before you buy, and in the end you will have a TV you will love for more than just the big game.


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