How to Choose Your LCD / Plasma TV ~ GAMES AND GADGETS

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Choose Your LCD / Plasma TV

So you've finally decided to buy your much coveted flat screen TV but when you go to your local store you're bombarded with hundreds of choice. So which one should you buy? Here's a bunch of things to consider:

1. LCD or Plasma. First things first, you need to choose between an LCD or Plasma TV. If you’re going for a bigger screen, some would suggest Plasma while if you’re settling for under 40 inches, go with LCD. Basically, there’s really no difference in terms of picture quality with Plasma and LCD. However, some Plasma enthusiasts will point out that Plasma TVs can show deeper black colors, have better viewing angles, and is cheaper while LCD enthusiasts will point out that LCDs have higher resolution, consumes less power, and have longer lifespan. So it’s really up to you on which factor is more important to you, however, my personal choice is LCD TV.

2. Screen Size. First, where are you going to use it? If you're going to use it in a large room and maybe use it for your home theater, it's good to go for 40 inches or higher. If it's just for your bedroom or a small room, 30 to 37 inches would do.

3. Which specs to consider?

3.1. Contrast Ratio. Before I did my research on LCD and Plasma TVs, I usually ask the person about the contrast ratio of the TV, it’s probably because it’s the most advertised by the manufacturers however, like many people point out during my own quest to buy an HDTV, the manufacturers tend to overstate their contrast ratio because of lack of testing standard. However, when I’ve compared two Samsung LCD TVs of the same screen size but with different contrast ratios (one was 7000:1 while the other has 8000:1) I did notice a very slight improvement in picture quality of the TV with the higher contrast ratio than the other but that may be true when comparing TVs of the same manufacturer but with different models. Contrast ratios should be considered together with actual comparison of the picture of the LCD /Plasma TV you’re considering.

3.2.Response time. The lower the number means the faster the response time of the LCD / Plasma TV which is good for watching sports, action packed movies or anything that has fast movements involved.

3.3.1080p, 1080i or 720p. These are the formats for delivering digital content. Most 1080p models are expensive compared with LCD / Plasma TVs with 1080i or 720 input. Currently, 1080p is the highest of all resolutions however, there are few content available in 1080p for you to truly enjoy it. If you’re living in a country with no HD broadcasting signal, it’s best just to stay with 720p but if you want to future proof your investment, go with 1080p. However, I don’t really believe in future proofing. Given how technology is constantly changing, I’d give 1080p two years before it’s replaced with another digital format that is better.

3.4.Viewing angle. A wider viewing angle will enable multiple people enjoy your LCD / Plasma TV as it can be viewed from a variety of angles without the picture getting blurry.

3.5.Connections. The basic input you should consider for you to enjoy your LCD / Plasma TV includes HDMI, Composite Video, S-Video, Component Video, VGA, and DVI. Composite video, S-Video and component video are usually standard and can be found even in older TV versions. VGA is the input you need for your PC. Cheaper models only offer VGA but if you’re bent on using or LCD / Plasma TV as your monitor, look for DVI input. DVI is a high quality digital input next to HDMI, if your LCD TV doesn’t have DVI but it has HDMI and your video card on your PC has DVI output, buy one of those DVI to HDMI cables to fully utilize your LCD / Plasma TV capacity. Also look for TVs that have HDMI v.1.3, cheaper models only offer HDMI v1.2 and the difference is significant in terms of video quality.

4. Seeing it with your own eyes. Perhaps the best thing to do when buying your LCD / Plasma TV is to compare the models side by side, using the same videos. Some appliance store uses different videos for different manufacturers. Take a look at the blacks and see if it’s deeper and richer as this implies a higher contrast ratio rather than relying on the manufacturer’s specs.

LCD and Plasma TVs are a great addition to any home. If you choose smartly, you won't be wasting money and be investing in a great technology.

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