LCD Televisions Buying Guide

If you're looking for a thin, lightweight television that features top picture quality and comes in a nice variety of small and large sizes, then you can't go wrong with a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). The technology is found in most modern computer monitors and in many TVs and offers glare-free viewing, large dynamic contrast ratios, and a satisfyingly low price tag.

Technical Terms

If you want to be a knowledgeable TVdef pro in no time. * '''Flatpanel television, as it comes in a thin case. Older varieties of TV and computer monitor can qualify as flat screen, where the screen is very much flat, but the TV's components are stored in a large area that protrudes from the back of the TV. * '''Widescreen''': Nearly all modern displays are widescreen, replacing old 4:3 displays. The widescreen standard is 16:9, meaning that the screen has 16 horizontal pixels for every 9 vertical pixels and is almost twice as wide as it is tall: hence, "widescreen." * '''Contrast Ratio''': The contrast ratio represents the intensity of light produced between the brightest and darkest colors possible (pure white and pure black, respectively). A larger ratio means that you can see more difference between light and dark on the screen, and your images will appear deeper, sharper, and clearer. For example, you can expect a better picure out of a TV with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio than a 25,000:1 contrast ratio. LCDs use a dynamic contrast ratio, which means that they can augment the contrast ratio of the TV by changing the intensity of the backlight depending on the scene. Bright scenes will have the backlight on higher power, whereas deeper color can be produced by turning down the backlight in darker scenes.  * '''Refresh Rate''': Measured in hertz (Hz), the refresh rate is how frequently the image refreshes. Most TVs refresh 60 times per second (60Hz), but some newer models have 120Hz or 240Hz refresh rates. The amount that a TV can refresh is dictated by the source it's receiving, but 120 Hz and 240Hz TVs are smoother in general and avoid the stuttering issue that can occur with movies on some 60Hz televisions. * '''Resolution and Scanning''': No, no, a resolution isn't just a new year's thing. It refers to the pixel count of your television and the video signals the TV is capable of interpreting. A greater number of pixels means a crisper picture and more signal compatibility for the TV. There are two elements to the signal quality, a number and a letter: ** ''Numbers'' give the resolution in the number of vertical pixels. Remember that because of widescreen, the number of horizontal pixels will be almost twice the number of vertical pixels. ** The ''letter'' at the end of the resolution (like 'i' in 480i or 'p' in 1080p) refers to one of two "scanning" varieties. Interlacing (i) is the older standard in which every other line of the TV alternates being updated. In other words, the odd numbered lines of an image (the first, third, fifth, and so on) will be refreshed in one instant, and then in the next they'll be followed by the even numbered lines (like the second, fourth, and sixth). The images end up less smooth than they do in progressive scanning (p) which re-paints all lines of the TV at every instant instead of alternating. ** The most common signals you should expect to run across are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p: *** 480i is the signal received by older televisions (known as "Standard Definition.") 480p is the same resolution but with progressive scanning and is often found on DVDs. Any HDTV can display these signals, but some are listed as having better standardHD content. *** 720p is the first type of "High Definition" signal. It is higher resolution than the old standard definition quality and is used by many channels as their main source of HD programming. All high definition TVs can display 720p. *** 1080i is the second HD option that is used by channels that lose the progressive scanning of 720p but trade it off for higher resolution. The vast majority of new HDTVs, except for some very small models, can display 1080i, but make sure your TV's pixel count is high enough. *** 1080p, also called "Full HD," is the best visual signal available. It has the high resolution of 1080i but uses progressive scanning for a smoother picture. TV stations are not yet able to broadcast in this format, as TV providers' existing interfaces do not support such a dense and powerful signal, but plans are in place for 1080p broadcasts in the near future. If you want to get your eyes on Full HD content right away, you can find it in Xbox 360 also run in 1080p. Any TV marked as having Full HD support can display all possible video signals including 1080p.

All About Making Connections

The terminology you just learned about the TV's display is only half the battle. Take the time to learn about what connection ports are present on your TV so you can purchase the appropriate types of cables and hook up your other electronics to your TV. * is a single cable that carries only video. It still supports standard definition only but is higher quality than composite. * '''Component''' cables have five connectors and carry both picture and sound. Component supports all signals, including 1080p. * '''VGA''', or Video Graphics Array, is sometimes known as a PC input because it is the blue video connector found on most computers. *digital cameras and camcorders or any other device that uses a digital memory card. Check to see that the slot reads the type of memory card found in your digital device. * '''Bluetooth''' can be found on some new TV models. These televisions can sync with Bluetooth-compatible devices to transfer media like photos or music. * '''digital storage devices, to be attached to the TV.  *MP3 players. * '''Ethernet''' is present on TVs that have their own internet features. Some of these TVs have wireless available as well, but for faster transfer rates, or if your TV does not have wireless networking, you can use a wired connection through the ethernet port.

Advantages of LCD TVs

* '''Screen Size''': LCDs are available in both large sizes for home theaters or living rooms and in smaller sizes for kitchens and small rooms. * '''Thinness''': LCDs are thinner than even the supersized LCDs are now under three or four inches in depth from front to back, making them perfect for wall mounting. Allow for extra space and a footprint if you want to use a TV stand instead. * '''Weight''': Plasmas weigh about twice as much as LCDs. A 40whereas a plasma of that size could be well over 100 pounds. * '''No Burnusually for about a day, but sometimes longer. * '''Brightness and Glare Reduction''': LCD TVs use matte-finished screens. They also have brighter backlighting technology than plasmas. These two elements mean that they have very little glare and aren't overly reflective, so they'll look good in environments with lots of light (like rooms with lots of windows or lighting) or the dark environments characteristic of home theaters. * '''Power Consumption''': LCDs are much more environmentally friendly than plasmas. Some newer LCD models use LED technology, which brightens the picture and uses even less energy. Still want to know more about HDTVs before making your decision? Take a look at our guides to HDTV and plasma.

Love Those LCDs

LCD is a great television technology but not all TVs are created equal. These are the features that distinguish LCDs from each other. * '''Game Mode''': LCDs are perfect if you're a big video gamer, as most models have a game mode that will enhance the refresh rate to smooth out the action and optimize color settings for gameplay. * '''Speakers''': It's easy to get caught up in the best looking picture, but don't forget that sound has improved with time as well. The best overall entertainment experience will be one that delivers topquality speakers of its own. * '''Thin and thinner''': LCDs are in general the thinnest televisions in the world, but there is still a great deal of variation between the models themselves. Some LCDs might be five inches thick, while others may deliver big screen action at under an inch of depth. If extremely thin design is important to you, you can find it on some LCDs, but be prepared to pay more for the luxury.

Leading LCDs

Popular HDTV Manufacturers

* Hitachi * JVC * LG * Mitsubishi * Panasonic * Pioneer * Samsung * Sanyo * Sharp * Sony * Toshiba

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