Flat Screen HDTV Buying Tips

Going big seems to be the popular option when it comes to HDTV. Projection HDTVs, are good choices when looking for big screen performance, but don’t really fit into the flat screen category. Although there are many HDTV models, the flat screen HDTV is definitely emerging as a popular favorite. This should come as no surprise. The advantages offered by a flat screen HDTV that produces crystal clear images on a very big screen, yet is light enough and thin enough to be hung on a wall are very appealing. Not only are the aesthetics appealing, but the improved technology and demand have caused prices to drop considerably.

Once you have decided to purchase a flat screen HDTV, your next step is to choose from LCD or Plasma. There are also “LED TV’s”. LED’s are not a separate technology as far as HDTV is concerned. LED models are just LCD TV’s that use LED backlights. Plasma HDTVs work very much like a fluorescent light. A gas is formed by an electrical charge, and this process gives off ultra-violet light that makes phosphors glow. The images of LCD’s are produced by shining bright light (backlights) through moving liquid crystals that either block or transmit light.

If you are looking at screens up to 42 inches, LCD is pretty much your only choice. When considering the bigger flat screen HDTVs, 50 inches and larger, you will need to determine which format or technology suits your needs, and your wallet.

Most flat screen HDTV sets out there are now widescreen. Widescreen models have a ratio of 16:9, which means that for every 16 inches of width the screen will have 9 inches of depth. This is also very close to the ratio of movies that you would see in a theater.

Plasma Flat Screen HDTV

Plasma HDTV sets are usually purchased in the 60 to 65 inch range. You can get them a little smaller and also much bigger. Prices can start at around $600.00 and go up to as much $15000.00 for the over the top models.

Lower priced plasma sets will often have a poorer picture. The budget models quite often do not produce quality blacks and grays, and more often than not have poor contrast that results in less detail and coarser images in the display.

Although you can still get Plasma HDTV in 720p it is not recommended. Stick with the models that have 1080p resolution. This is the preferred option of Dish Network, Blu-ray, and other services, and will soon be the standard.

Because of the use of phosphors, plasma flat screen HDTVs can experience “burn-in”. This is a more frequent problem with older models. Burn-in is usually caused by a static image, much like a logo that is constantly present on the screen. This can be eliminated by proper contrast settings. If you know that you have an older plasma model, avoid keeping sharpness and contrast settings too high. Newer plasma models are equipped with “pixel shifting” to prevent burn in.

Don’t forget the audio. Although most plasma flat screen HDTV sets now come with built in speakers, there are still some that are only video that do not have either speakers or a tuner. It seems ridiculous, but be sure to check the specifications before you buy.

LCD Flat Screen HDTV

Unlike plasmas, an LCD flat screen HDTV can be had in a much larger range of screen sizes. You can find sizes from 15 inches up to 60 inches and bigger. Compared to their CRT (Cathode Ray Tubes) predecessors, the LCD does cost a bit more. However, this is only in the smaller screen sizes, which would be 30 inches and under. In the larger screen sizes, LCD flat screen HDTVs are very competitive with the big screen plasma HDTVs. The good news is that prices have fallen more than 20% in the last year.

The display quality of an LCD flat screen HDTV still comes under fire when compared to the plasma display. The contrast, black and gray color production, and response times do not seem to be quite as good as plasmas. What this means is that sometimes, depending upon how trained the eye of the viewer is, fast action or sports scenes may seem blurred. This has been a problem in the past, but new LCD technology seems to have overcome this in the newer models available.

Compared to plasmas LCD’s can be one to a few inches thicker. They also have less of a viewing angle. This means that if you are off to one side it may be more difficult to view an LCD than a plasma. However an LCD flat screen HDTV does not have any burn in issues, runs cooler, can be viewed easily in brightly lit rooms and has all the features that we have come to expect from conventional television. LCD’s also weigh much less than their plasma counterparts are more portable and can be easily setup wherever you like.

It is difficult to determine what every persons taste or needs are. You know what it is that you want from your flat screen HDTV. Both plasma HDTV and LCD HDTV have their good and bad points, and the technology of the newer models of both types has worked out most of them.

The next question would be, how much do you want to spend? Basically, LCD would be the obvious choice. LCD flat screen HDTVs are available in more screen sizes, and are easier to use in more situations, and cost less than plasmas. Although the display may be somewhat better with a plasma HDTV, you have to ask if it is worth the difference in price.

When faced with this same decision I went with the LCD, and am very satisfied with my choice. I also went from store to store checking out models and prices. Most of the clerks in these bigger electronic stores were not very knowledgeable or very helpful at all. I found out more online and ultimately purchased my two flat screen HDTVs online. My online buying experience went very smoothly, and my TV’s arrived at my door within a week.