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XL Geek Squeak Of The Week – TVs

I would like to share my experience with buying my first HD TV.

When speaking in terms of HD, the most common and well known phrases are 720p and 1080p. 1080i is basically 720p so I won’t be discussing it in depth.  Starting with the basics, 1080p is the highest resolution. What this means is that there are 1080 individual pixels from the bottom of the screen up to the top of the screen(vertically). So one might believe that 1080p must always trump 720p, right? The 1080p does contains at least twice as much visual information with regards to the amount of pixels. But when you are sitting comfortably on your couch, can you see the difference? Also keep in mind that there is more than just resolution, there is color quality, black levels, and contrast.

Bestplasmatv.com has a wonderfully in-depth review but I’m here to help you save time, and your eyes from reading it all. The article is briefly summarized by this quote.

Fail to get the right screen size for your viewing distance and you will only spend money for something you can’t benefit from.

What they are refering to is the balance you need to achieve between screen size, viewing distance, and resolution.

If you plan to sit far from the screen (over 8 feet) I would recommend a 50 inch or larger screen. 42 inch tv’s are good for less than 8 feet.  The 50 inch is where you will really see the difference in 720p to 1080p. As screen sizes increase so does the pixel size which creates gaps between the pixels (barely visible unless pressed up against the screen). With 1080p the amount of pixels is doubled and therefor the extra pixels will fill in these gaps with even more information. In the 42inch, having 1080p resolution, the pixels are trying too hard to fit into the space and become too close for your eye to really distinguish a tremendous difference.

Another factor, and probably the biggest in making this decision, is how much HD content will you be viewing through your TV? Today, all HD content that is coming through cable services and even Net-Flix is at it’s highest 720p. The only way to experience true 1080p content is on Blue-Ray DVD’s and 1080p Video Games. Keep this in mind as you are making your decisions as well.

After deciding on resolution, there is also the tough decision to choose between LCD, Plasma, or LED. I’ll keep it quick because I could go on and on about all three of these.

LCD – Great colors and bright screens, gets tough to see content when sitting at extreme angles to the tv, and even with high refresh rates (120hz) I seem to notice motion blur when watching fast action movies, sports, video games etc.

Plasma – Great colors and best photo quality look (in my opinion), no motion blurring, image retains quality at any angle (except behind…), not the best  in bright rooms (lots of reflection) but easily fixed with shades or curtains on windows. Plasmas have the possibility for burn in from displaying the exact same image for hours on end (ie video games, news stations, sports scoreboards etc.) This happened to my plasma, the burn-in was quite visible after playing a video game for hours, within a week the burnt-in image disappeared most the way, and today there is no trace of it. Burn-in is more of a myth today as technology improves but it is still something to be aware of.

LED – They share most the same characteristics with the LCD except it has excellent viewing angles just as the plasma does and they are built extremely thin (about less than a centimeter on some higher end models). I feel this technology will be replacing the LCD because it is the logical step up with the improved viewing angle and thickness of the console. Right now they are a bit pricey in my opinion but are still a fun purchase to make. From my experience most still suffer from the motion blur during high speed action on screen.

In Conclusion: Know what you are going to use the TV for, not everyone needs all-wheel drive in a car just as not everyone needs a giant pixel rich TV. Samsung and Panasonic are generally accepted as the leading brands in TV but Sharp and LG are good choices as well. Best thing to do is go out and

Me personally, I did probably 10 hours of online and in-store research and decided with a 720p Samsung Plasma. It works perfectly for me now in my small apartment where I enjoy watching movies, MMA and playing video games. But I look forward to the day I get to buy a large 50+ size LED 3D TV for my somewhat bigger home. Hope you found some good info here. Check back for my next Tech Odyssey .

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