You’ve finally decided that it’s past time to upgrade your home entertainment experience by buying a new television. After all, you spend many of your evenings enjoying your favorite movies, sports or shows on TV, or just keeping up with what’s happening on one of the cable news networks. Why can’t you watch in style?
There are several options to consider, including which brand to choose, what size TV will best suit you and whether you will be making your purchase online, at one of the major electronics stores or at a discount outlet such as Wal-Mart or Target. And, of course, you have to think about how much you can afford to spend on high definition TV.
One of the most basic decisions you will have to make is choosing between plasma and LCD. Both have advantages and disadvantages to consider before you determine which will go the most in improving your viewing experience.
What is the difference?
First, let’s take a quick look at the differences between plasma and LCD technologies. A plasma TV screen consists of a pair of glass panels separated by a narrow slit filled with neon-xenon gas. The gas, which is electrically charged periodically when the device is on, creates the red, green, and blue pixels (or picture elements) to create what you see on the screen.
On the other hand, LCD screens consist of two layers of transparent material, one of which is coated with a polymer that holds the liquid crystals in place. LCD screens create images by blocking light or allowing light to pass through when a current is applied to the crystals.
Keep in mind that there are two types of LCD screens. Some are fluorescent backlit, while others are backlit with LEDs – light emitting diodes. The latter are generally thinner and lighter and use less electricity, and also offer better image quality.
Four reasons to consider a TV with a plasma screen:
- Images have better contrast than LCDs because TVs can produce deeper blacks. Plasma screens are also capable of providing richer, more natural colors.
- Plasma screens usually have better viewing angles; You can sit further on either side of the screen without affecting image quality.
- TVs with plasma screens are generally cheaper than LCD TVs.
- Plasma screens do a better job tracking motion.
Four reasons to consider a TV with an LCD screen:
- TVs with LCD screens are lighter than plasma TVs.
- LCD screens don’t have the problem with burn-in, which is likely to happen with plasma screens. If you pause a video game or DVD and the same image appears on the screen for a long time, some pixels can freeze the image forever.
- LCD screens run cooler and use less energy than plasma screens.
- LCD screens are less prone to annoying glare than plasma screens.
Pixels Make a Difference
Besides choosing between plasma and LCD, another factor you should consider is screen resolution – the number of pixels used to create an image. Resolution is represented by two numbers, the first represents the number of pixels crossing the screen and the second represents the number of pixels from top to bottom. The more pixels, the finer the detail on your television screen.
Most inexpensive high-definition TVs have 720p screens (usually 1024 x 768, 1280 x 720 or 1366 x 768 pixels), while TVs with larger screens and higher price tags feature 1080p displays. This was usually considered “full HD” (or at least until the advent of ultra-high-definition (UHD) displays that displayed 3840 x 1260 pixels).
Pixels make a difference, but there are other factors that determine the quality of your image. Besides brightness, contrast and color, the source of your viewing is also an important factor. For example, a Blu-Ray disc will give you a more enjoyable viewing experience than the signal coming to your TV through your cable box.
The same principle applies to digital content. If you use ‘smart TV’ technology, make sure your model is Wi-Fi capable (and be prepared for additional fees for apps, services, etc…)
When you finally decide which TV you want to buy, you may have to consider how much it will cost. And, for the most part, you’ll be able to spend as little or as much as you want on a high-definition flat-screen TV. For example, by glancing at the national major store websites, you can get a Samsung 19-inch, 720p with LED display for $169.99, while a Magnavox with the same specs is $30 less.
If you’re interested in something a little bigger, the 43-inch Samsung with 720p plasma screen retails for $399.99. The 40-inch Samsung with 1080p LED display retails for $499.99, as does the comparable 42-inch Vizio. If you switch to the 55-inch Samsung, also with a 1080p LED display, you’re looking at $1,299.99.
And, if you can’t live without a 60-inch television, you can spend $1,499 for Panasonic, $1,699.99 for LG, or $1,599.99 for Samsung. All three have 1080p LED screens. You can get a similar Samsung with a plasma screen for $949.99.
Finally, a 4K LED-powered UltraHD TV from Sony hit the market in April, with a vertical resolution of 2160 pixels, but the 65-inch model will run you a cool $6,999 until other manufacturers catch up to competing products.
Whatever you decide, don’t forget to measure your home space first, make sure you have a place to mount it on the wall. And whenever you buy new electronics (especially with new models), buy the longest warranty.
Before spending any money on a television, do some research to determine which TV is best for you, so you’ll be satisfied with your viewing experience for years to come!