HDTV Buyer’s Guide

I know this shopping season you might have brought one or looking to buy one soon around Christmas. Buying an HDTV is no kid’s place, you need to get your concepts right before you jump in.

Who Should buy one – Are you a movie freak? You love HD content or you are a hardcore gamer? You may be a passionate laptop guy that needs a bigger rich screen, LCD HDTVs are for you.

When buying a LCD/LED HD TV, there are few things you should look for in the Specs:

1. Contrast Ratio: Contrast ratio, by definition,  is a measure of a display system, defined as the ratio of the luminance of the brightest color (white) to that of the darkest color (black) that the system is capable of producing. A high contrast ratio is a desired aspect of any display, but with the various methods of measurement for a system or its part, remarkably different measured values can sometimes produce similar results.

The problem lies in the fact that most manufacturers mention the Dynamic contrast. Dynamic contrast can come out to be much higher than actual contrast. For good contrast, a value of 60,000 or above is what you should look for.

2. Screen resolution: There are large no. of TVs in the market with different resolutions. the most common names you will hear are HD Ready and FullHD. In simple words, HD ready says i can play 720p video. FullHD says I can play 1080p. Infact, FullHD is the highest you will get in the market. Knowing the fact that most TV channels and movie content from BluRay DVDs will be 1080p, go for FullHD TV sets.

3. Response time: Response time refers to the time that it takes to change the state of on an individual LCD pixel. Response times can specify the time it takes a pixel to change state from black-to-white-to-black or from one gray level to the next gray level. There is no real industry standard on how or what to report as response time, so take this number with a grain of salt (unless you know the measurement specifies of this value). Typical older LCD response times had been around 4 ms. Many of the newer LCD TVs now incorporate faster 2 ms pixels. Response times also affect motion blur and jitter. Don’t buy a TV with response time >5ms.

4. Refresh rates: It refers to the number of times per second a TV screen is updated with a new image. The typical refresh rate for US TVs has been 60 times per second (60 Hz) and for Europe and India is 50Hz. LCD TVs suffer from motion blur. One technique used to help reduce motion blur is to increase the refresh rate to 120 times per second (120 Hz) or 100 times (100Hz). Look for a TV that has TruMotion or equivalent technology running @ 100Hz or 120Hz or above.

5. Look for Features: Some TVs gives you good no. of features like plugging in your USB and playing DIVX video, audio, photos. Also, LG provides Bluetooth for 2 way streaming of the audio., etc.

6. Inputs & ouput ports: This is important consideration before you decide upon a LCD. If you want to hookup your LCD HDTV with home audio and video sources/outputs you need to consider them. Here is what you should look for:

– Multiple HDMI ports (3 preferred)

– RGB (also called VGA port, used to conenct to PC)

Audio video ports

– Component ports

7. Power saving/consumption: Most LCDs in market are NOT energy efficient, as we move to a more greener world, we need gadgets which are more energy efficient. Look for a panel which consumes peak power not more than  200Watts. some of the decent nes consume 150watts during normal usage.

Some of the good brands even have power saving technicques embedded like auto dimming and switching off when not being used actively just like your notebook LCD. These were some of the things you should look.

Now Here is the list what you should NOT look for in LCD TV:

1. Screen Brightness & Illuminance: When you visit a showroom, you will often see people choosing the display which the most vibrant. Stop right there. Its not about illuminance and brightness of the display, rather its about the crispness and the detail of the picture you get on the screen. Look for the panel which displays colors naturally rather then saturating them. Try to adjust screen contrast/brightness to bring them down to a level that you will use in your daily life. And then compare the detail and clarity.

2. Audio: You must be wandering I’m talkin about LCD TV for home entertainment and i didnt even mention about Audio? That’s true. you don’t need to consider this. Don’t be surprised but when you are buying a LCD TV, dont look for TV which has better audio. Most LHDTVs that i see in market are labelled 10 +10 Watts RMS., which is sufficient for them. The reason being, you can always extend the audio to the levels you expect by adding good home audio solutions. But if you sacrifice of image quality once, You are stuck!

3. Contrast ratio: Contrast ratio is one point which you should look for and Not look for. Sounds confusing? Earlier, I explained why contrast ratio can be a misnomer for choosing “better quality” of picture. The rule of the game is that “Trust your eyes” rather than the quoted ratio by the manufacturer. Play some good vibrant FullHD content on the displays and try to figure out the difference between the contrasts. Figure out which screen has better darkness for showing Black color. which pscreen shows better red, which screen has better vibrance, etc.

All in all, if you follow these guidelines, I’m sure you will come home with a decent  LCD HDTV! Happy shopping

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