Blu-ray Guide
HDTV Guide
Buyer's Guide - Screen Type

Also in this section: Introduction | Getting started | Providers | Buying your HDTV | Jargon buster | Optimize

  
  HDTV Buyers Guide
1. Which screen technology is right for me?
2. What size screen should I buy?
3. What will I be using my TV for?
4. Connections
5. My Budget
6. Editors top choices

 

What HDTV technology is right for me?

You've decided that HDTV is for you and you're ready to hit the high street. You might have heard about LCD & Plasma, but what are the differences? what are the pros and cons of each technology? and which one is right for me?

HD TV

TOP TEN HD TV

You may also have heard of LED technology which is essentially a refinement of LCD, substituting LED's (light emitting diodes) for the traditional 'fluorescent tube like' backlight. The technology improves on what many see as LCD's Achilles heal, a poor black level response (Contrast). If you would like to find out more you might like to read our LED TV Guide.

Manufacturers have embraced LCD technology of late and there is a far greater choice of TV's using this technology. This isn't to say that you should rule out Plasma however ...

Plasma TVs

Plasma TV’s screens are perfectly flat. They produce natural, vibrant colours while maintaining a very high level of detail. Pixels on a Plasma screen are ‘lit’ at once, unlike normal TVs, where the image is scanned across the screen. The image is therefore sharper and brighter.

This is great for regular room lighting and can be watched from most distances and angles without affecting your viewing experience. Even as you get closer to the screen, you will not be affected by changes in picture or colour quality. They are only a few inches thin which provides a lot of options when it comes to installation.

In addition to stand mounting, they can be hung on a wall or from a ceiling. All plasma TVs are designed in widescreen.

Plasma displays do not use electron beams, as conventional TV displays do. They are therefore immune to the effects of magnetic fields. This allows for speakers to be placed quite close and will not compromise your home cinema set up.

Main advantages of Plasma over LCD are:

Larger screen size availability – Plasma screens range from 37" to over 100" (although the choice of LCD TV's over 50in is growing, they are proportionately more expensive).
Better contrast ratio and ability to render deeper blacks.
Better colour accuracy and saturation.
Better motion tracking (little or no motion lag in fast moving images).

Main advantages of LCD compared to Plasma include:

Plasma TVs are more susceptible to burn-in of static images.
Plasma TVs generate more heat than LCDs, due to the need to light of phosphors to create images, and consequently use considerably more power.
Does not perform as well at higher attitude.

LCD TVs

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. This means that the screen is made up of millions of tiny liquid crystal molecules, called pixels. These function like a camera shutter, allowing light to either pass through or be blocked as voltage is individually applied so they change state to create an 'image'. The colour is added to the LCD display through three filters (red, green, and blue) that are applied to each pixel. LCD TV screens always maintain sharp, clear pictures without reflection from artificial lights or bright sunlight through windows.

LCD technology is extremely lightweight therefore products are both highly portable and versatile. With screen sizes ranging from 13" (4:3) to 60"+ widescreen, this means you can watch LCD TV wherever you want!

LCD offer flicker-free images for a more comfortable viewing experience with less eyestrain, even when viewing close-up. Also, since no static electricity is generated on a LCD screen it remains virtually dust free and clean for perfect viewing all the time.

Main LCD television advantages over plasma include:

No burn-in of static images.
Cooler running temperature.
No high altitude use issues.
Increased image brightness over plasma.

Main disadvantages of LCD vs. Plasma televisions include:

Lower contrast ratio, not as good rendering deep blacks.
Not as good at tracking motion.
They are less robust (there is no glass to protect the screen).

HD TV

TOP TEN HD TV

> Next: Screen Size