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What to look for in an HDTV

With the stimulus checks starting to come out and the death of analog in the near future, it’s a better time than ever to start thinking about upgrading your television. With a HDTV you will not only replace analog service, but also skip over cathode ray televisions. These CRTVs are what most people think about with “TV;” your basic black box with a pretty good picture. HDTVs, on the other hand, are the new, sleek, sexy and bigger TVs that are pushing our dear beloved out of the ring.

There are many different options when considering HDTVs; you can choose from plasma, LCD, DLP, rear projection, front projection, and some more lesser-known ones. I’m not going to try and say which one is better as it can be narrowed down to a matter of preference or environment.

Plasma HDTVs are probably the most commonly thought of HDTV, unfortunately it is also one of the most expensive as well. The idea behind plasma displays is to light up the minute, fluorescent lights that make up the pixels; each pixel is made up of a red light, a green light, and a blue light. These are the same base colors found on a color wheel and combinations of them can make any color on the spectrum. Plasma displays offer a wide viewing angle so they are great if you have a lot of people watching or if your favorite chair is off in the corner of the room; they are also very thin so it’s easy to find a place for them. The biggest problem about plasma displays is the fact that images can be permanently burned into the screen. This happens when one image is displayed for a prolonged period of time.

LCDs, or Liquid Crystal Displays, are gaining in popularity. They are a cheaper option compared to the plasma displays and have some of the same benefits. LCDs use the same type of screen found with lap tops and PC monitors which produces a very sharp image with great resolution. They are very thin like the plasmas but are also very light. A big issue that they lack is that the viewing angles aren’t nearly as good as a plasma, so they are more suited for smaller rooms and personal use. Due to the brightness of the screens some lighter colors might also be washed out and look faded.

Rear Projection Displays, or DLP, are very popular among people looking for a 50-plus inch screen due to the fact they are much cheaper than a plasma screen. DLP screens aren’t as thin as a LCD or plasma but they are still only a foot or so deep. Like the LCDs, the viewing angles aren’t optimal, but due to the size that they are available in this can easily be forgotten. The DLPs also show the deepest black compared to a LCD or plasma screen.

Front Projection Displays are basically really good projectors. They can be great if set up properly, but can easily be a hassle. Light is a big factor since they are a projection, if the room isn’t completely dark the image can become washed out and difficult to see. The bulbs also burn out and can be expensive to replace within the projector. In the right setting however these projections can be very useful. A very appealing attribute to the projectors is there isn’t an actual TV, just a spot where the projection hits the wall or screen. This means that the setup can be easily hidden within the room to make it appear out of sight. This is great for themed rooms or bedrooms where the user really doesn’t want a TV to be seen.

These are just some basic types of HDTVs and there are many more variations to choose from. Plus, unless you set up all of the different types side by side you probably won’t really be able to tell the difference in the image. Basically you need to consider the environment you’re in and what you will be using the television for before you make a final decision.

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Author info

Thomas McMahon Thomas McMahon is a student at Albertson's College of Idaho who, when he's not playing some geeky video game or designing some new, award-winning engineering project, plays basketball and tennis. His study interest is engineering.

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