HDTV buying tips, Plasma TVs

HDTV buying tips, Plasma TVs

Deciding what type of HDTV to purchase can be quite a challenge because there are so many options available.

  1. CRT (Cathode Ray Tube): This is the basic television that has been around for about 50 years. CRT displays use tubes to produce images. It is not available in a flat-screen format and is not available with a screen larger than 34’.
  2. DLP (Digital Light Processing): DLP uses small mirrors to refract light onto the screen. It is available in a flat-screen format.
  3. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): To produce images LCD uses small electric charges which pass through liquid crystal molecules. LCD’s are available in a flat-screen format that reflects little light. They are light in weight and durable. They use less power than a CRT or Plasma.
  4. Plasma: Plasma screens use gas discharges to produce images. They have a high resolution and a wider viewing angle. Plasma displays have a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and also allow many DVDs/videos to be viewed in widescreen format, as originally seen in the theater.

Set a limit for yourself and don’t get talked into an upgrade that you don’t need. Choosing a new HDTV can be overwhelming, but there are a few things that might make your choice easier.

  • HDTV or HDTV-ready: A tuner is required for a HDTV to produce a high-definition picture. Some HDTV’s have these tuners already built-in. HDTV’s that do not include a built in tuner are referred to as “HDTV-ready”. In order to see HDTV programming with a HDTV-ready unit, you will need a high-definition box from your cable provider.
  • HDTV Programming: The number of channels currently available in high-definition is limited. Contact your cable provider to see what is available. Depending on how close you are to your local TV station transmitter, you may be able to pick up a high-definition signal over the air with a set of rabbit ears or antenna on your roof.
  • Resolution: The resolution is the number that tells you how well an HDTV can produce images. Common resolutions are 720p (720 progressive) or 1080i (1080 interlaced). Anything lower than this will result in a less impressive HDTV viewing experience.
  • Choosing aspect ration: Available in standard 4:3 or widescreen 16:9. Standard 4:3 is the most popular size and represents four inches of width for every three inches of height. The widescreen format enhances the viewing of DVD’s and HDTV broadcasts.
  • Adjust brightness: Generally all TV’s on display in the store are set on their highest setting. Ask the salesperson to adjust the level so that the brightness, color levels and contrast are roughly equal.
  • Bring a DVD: If there is a movie you’re familiar with, bring it in the store and play it on the HDTV.
  • Try all picture modes: Many TV’s come with a variety of picture modes (movies, sports, etc.) that can change the picture appearance. Try all modes to test the quality.
  • Check out the label: Be sure that what you’re buying is a HDTV. Some televisions are SDTV (Standard Definition Television) or EDTV (Enhanced Definition Television). SDTV has a lower resolution picture and a lower picture definition than HDTV, and HDTV can display HD broadcasts in better resolution than EDTV.
  • Price: You can find a good HDTV for as low as $700. The least expensive plasma models offering HDTV start around $4,000. Make sure you take into consideration all the accessories you’ll need (cables, stand, a receiver if needed, etc.).
  • Shop around: Shop at stores that do price matching. Many retailers will match the advertised price.

Once you choose what HDTV works for you, next you’ll need to decide where to put it. Consider these factors:

  • Placement: HDTV’s are best viewed at eye-level.
  • Screen size: Don’t pick an HDTV that is too big for your room. Even the best HDTV’s will show flaws in the picture if you are sitting too close. 
  • Wall color: White walls do not work well for any front projection HDTV because the white on the walls reflects light. Also, avoid any bright colors on your walls. They will alter the way your eye is able to process the picture on the screen.
  • Room lighting: Many HDTV’s will work fine in rooms with regular indoor lighting. Front projectors generally require a darkened room.

Related: HDTV repair tips

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