Sick of staring at that old square tube television that’s been collecting dust in your living room? If you’re ready to make the leap to a High Definition Television (HDTV) but are unsure of just what to look for, then this article is for you.
What is HDTV exactly?
To understand HDTV it is probably best to first look at a standard definition tube TV set. The average tube TV displays an image in 480i format. That translates to 480 vertical lines, of an interlaced image. The aspect ratio is 4:3 making the screen appear nearly square.
HDTV’s have a much higher screen resolution that produces a far superior image. There are three current standards for HDTV’s and they again refer to the amount of vertical lines: 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. All three HDTV standards support 5.1 surround sound and are broadcasted in a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.
In general, the higher the resolution the better the picture will look. A progressive image is almost always better than an interlaced one. The only caveat to this rule is that the screen may flicker during fast action sequences of a progressive image.
Most current HDTV’s display 720p and 1080i resolutions, the higher priced ones usually offer 1080p.
Tube vs. Plasma vs. LCD HDTV’s
Tube HDTV’s only have one thing going for them, they display the best shade of black. Beyond that, they are extremely heavy and no less expensive than plasma or LCD HDTV’s. They are limited in screen size by the weight of the tube. I would not recommend a tube HDTV for anyone.
Plasma HDTV’s on other hand do have many benefits. They are often less expensive and display a better shade of black than their LCD HDTV brethren. Plasma HDTV’s also excel at displaying fast motion with minimal screen flicker.
Plasma HDTV’s do however have some drawbacks to consider. They are susceptible to screen burn-in and not recommended for gamers. The life of a plasma HDTV is much less than an LCD. Once the Plasma gas is gone, it is gone and image quality will literally be cut in half. Plasma HDTV’s are also difficult to install. If they are tilted past a certain angle (while boxed or otherwise) the television can be ruined. Professional installation and delivery is the smart way to go when dealing with plasma TV’s.
For the sports fan who wants to watch Sunday football games in HD, plasma is probably for you. Everyone else should be in the market for an LCD HDTV.
LCD HDTV’s are the way to go for just about everyone. They do not suffer from burn-in issues, and have a longer lifespan while maintaining the same picture quality as they had from day one. The lamps on them (which Plasma HDTV’s also have) are the only thing that might need replacing, but with a 60,000 hour lifespan it won’t be anytime soon. Prices are coming down on LCD HDTV’s and a typical 42″ TV weighs about 70 lbs.
HDTV Buying Tips
There are two options for cables, either component cables or HDMI cables. HDMI cables are a little more expensive but much easier to work with.
When buying an HDTV stick with the three S’s: Sony Bravia, Samsung, or Sharp. These three brands produce the best televisions and have the best image quality by far.
To get the most out of your HDTV you need to receive an HDTV signal. This means you need a HDTV cable or satellite box or an HDTV antenna to pickup up over the air HD signals. I would suggest getting a Bluray or HDDVD player as well.
Bluray is way ahead in the HDDVD war. The Sony PS3 is one of the least expensive Bluray players on the market and is the perfect addition for your new HDTV.
The best piece of advice I can offer is to wait until you can afford a few hundred extra dollars to get a bigger and better television. Don’t settle for a bottom of the line 37″. Instead wait a few months and buy the 42″ or larger that you really want. You’ll thank yourself later.