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How to Choose a New Flat Screen HDTV

Updated on March 18, 2012

Chosing a New High Definition TV

With television technology progressing in leaps and bounds, the task of buying a new television can be somewhat daunting. It seems that the advent of the flat panel television display has coincided with an explosion in television viewing and purchasing options, making the choosing a new HDTV all the more difficult.

Gone are the days of the cathode ray television, where big developments such as color TV, remote controlled TVs and big screens were years, if not decades apart.

Today’s technology moves at a lightening pace, and with the advent of home computers and the internet, the latest model’s of televisions all seem to have some kind of desirable advance you simply can’t live without.

 Case in point: this year’s line-up of new models in the TV arena, include features such as 3D, 240 Hz refresh rates, and are likely internet ready. And as if that’s not enough to contemplate when buying a new TV, you now have two distinct display technologies: Plasma and LCD.

It‘s enough to give the average consumer heartburn.

How do you choose a new HDTV?

Fortunately, if you step through each option, you’ll find that some of the differences such as refresh rates are relatively minor, depending on your viewing preferences, and the decision is easily made.  Others such as the choice between Plasma and LCD, is not so easily made.  But again, with a bit of forethought into your viewing practices and preferences and the decision may actually be quite simple.

First, however, a basic understanding of the technologies and what they deliver is necessary.  Match that to your own wants and needs in a television, and the number of choices reduces from somewhere seemingly near infinity to a shortlist. If you have a strong loyalty to a particular brand, your decision is, no doubt, somewhat easier  but the same technology variances will occur within a brand as well.  So, putting brand and screen size aside for the moment, a consumer is essentially faced with four major choices, all with their own pros and cons depending on your viewing preferences and practices.

Choosing a New HDTV - Plasma vs. LCD

Plasma or LCD refers to the type of screen display. The first flat panel TV’s were all plasmas. Multiple generations of plasmas were released prior to LCD panels even hitting the market. Given that LCD is the later development, you can be forgiven for believing it to be the superior technology. Which, it may be, depending on what you want from your TV.

Plasma TV's are generally recommended by Home Entertainment expert fro systems over 50 inches in size.  Plasma TV's also have a better viewing angle.

LCD TV's, however, tend to have a better native resolution, and compete favourable on price and for smaller TV's.

Choosing a New HDTV – To 3D or Not To 3D

This year’s new release of flat panel TV’s brings 3D viewing into the home.  But a new TV may not be all you need for this viewing experience.  Special electronic glasses, not the paper variety with one blue lens and one red lens, are needed to view 3D content. 

Some 3D TV’s will include the electronic glasses, and others will not.  Even once you have the required equipment, without 3D content, they are useless.  While the availability of 3D content is certainly improving with sporting events being broadcast in 3D and many blockbuster releases also being shot in 3D, actually accessing this content may also incur additional costs.

Choosing a New HDTV - Refresh Rates: 60 Hz, 120 Hz or 240 Hz

Refresh rates refer to how often or how many times a second, the picture on the screen is refreshed. In theory, the more often the picture refreshes, the clearer a picture, especially when high motion scenes are displayed. Again, this decision will likely be driven by what you are watching on your new TV.

Sports aficionados may see value in splashing out for a 240 Hz refresh rate, but soap opera connoisseurs may not.

Choosing a New HDTV - Internet Ready

 Services such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix  have cemented the internet’s role in media delivery.  Late model TV’s bring internet content into the living room, without going through the potentially cumbersome effort to connect your computer to your big screen TV.  Like 3D on your new TV, internet ready TV’s bring some additional costs and considerations. 

Questions to ask yourself include: 

  • Can I connect my TV to the internet (modem/router) from its position in the living room?
  • Does the TV have an ethernet connection for hardwired connection?
  • Do I need to buy a special WiFi dongle for wireless connection?
  • Is my broadband speed sufficient for streaming high definition content?

Choosing a New HDTV - Conclusion

Once your selections are made on the above technologies, the final choices involve brand, size and budget. If you have a strong brand preference, this will lead your decision, if not limitation of room size and positioning of your new TV may dictate how large your new TV can be, or if both of these are flexible, budget may be the item the pin-points exactly which model of new TV you buy.

Happy shopping, hopefully viewing!

Oh, in case you are interested, to the right is the HDTV my family purchased after asking ourselves the above questions!

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      Miguel 

      3 years ago

      This is getting a bit more subcejtive, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of neighbors will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune Social is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

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