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What is the Best TV to Buy?

Updated on November 29, 2011

Attn: Holiday Shoppers & Gift Givers

Amazon sells a lot of Flatscreen TV's (I purchased my Samsung from them) because of price, no sales tax, budget shipping and a good return policy. But many people are scared to buy online because of identity theft completely unaware that the "s" in https:// means the server is secure. As soon as you click on the "proceed to checkout" button the transactions change to the secure servers and all your information is Encrypted. People trust Amazon for this reason and to my knowledge there has Never been any ID theft from an Amazon transaction. Your chances of ID theft are much greater when you hand your credit card to the kid at the local restaurant. I recently was about to make a purchase at Bestbuy online until I read their return policy. They charge restock fees of 15%! I'm not going to pay a restock fee for gifts I give that might be returned so they are out!

Electronics and LCD TV Coupons

Thinner, Lighter, HD Resolution, Buying the Best TV

What is the best TV to buy seems like a question without a definitive answer doesn’t it? The best TV to buy is very subjective. If there were one perfect model we would all want to buy it right? At any given time there could be a model that is clearly technologically superior to other models or brands. However does that make it the best? What if it costs $10,000? For pure picture quality one might argue the Sony Organic LED is the “best”. Unfortunately it’s an 11” screen with a $2,500 retail price tag. They have one on display here in Las Vegas at Fry’s Electronics.

Now back to reality. If you want to buy the best TV for your needs you first need to decide what budget you have. No point in drooling over $5,000 TV’s if you don’t have the money to spend. Once you have your budget you can begin to figure out what is best for you.

The TV Technologies Basic Facts

Plasma Television – The size of pixels in plasma screen technology is a big problem. It’s practically impossible to reduce the size of plasma pixels to less than 0.5mm. For this reason you won’t find plasma TV’s under 32” screen size. Furthermore Plasma pixels are either lit or unlit, there is no in-between state. This creates problems when regulating picture brightness. Plasma pixels are also subject to screen burn in This results when the same image is on display and the pixels do not change – think of Corporate Logos like “HD” or the NBC Peacock which are often present in the corners of screen during an entire show. Plasma pixels also create flicker and specific technologies are used to reduce the flicker to a state the human eye can not detect. A Plasma screen will also draw more power for those of you who care about operating costs.

Keep in mind that true HDTV resolution can't be found in plasma TVs smaller than 50 inches. There are two HDTV broadcast standards – 1920x1080 interlaced (1080i), and 1280x720 progressive (720p). So, in order for a plasma TV to be considered truly 'HD', it should have at least the same amount of pixels as a 720p signal, or more.

LCD Television – Unlike Plasma Technology LCD Pixels do not emit light. The LCD doesn’t emit light, rather it acts like a switch letting backlight light pass through the pixels. The amount of light that passes through the crystal (Liquid Crystal Display) determines how much Red, Green, and Blue is emitted. LCD pixels can be made much smaller than Plasma Pixels thus it’s possible to create high quality small format screens. And unlike plasma pixels LCD pixels can be controlled by individual transistors and do not flicker which coupled with small pixels sizes is why you see them used as computer monitors.

Unlike plasma TVs, all widescreen LCD TVs over 15 inches in size have true HD resolution (usually 1280x768 pixels, sometimes more). Bigger models starting at 46 inches and up actually have 1920x1080 pixel resolution, but they command quite a price premium at the moment.

So far you might think that LCD is the way to go and not plasma right? Perhaps but consider also that LCD’s do have their drawbacks. For one because the pixels are essentially valves allowing light to pass through they can “leak” meaning that blacks are not true blacks, whereas the black on a plasma pixel is “true” because the switch is on or off. This effect the contrast image and is important in accurately rendering colors. Plus for the plasma here. LCD TV’s also have less latitude in terms of viewing angles – meaning if you are watching TV in Groups you want to be near the center of the screen and not off to either side. Obviously manufacturers know the limitations of each technology and have “fixes” to compensate for the shortcomings. The estimated life of a Plasma TV is 20,000 hours and an LCD 40,000 hours which means for practical purposes it doesn’t matter. The average person works 2,000 hours a year. So if your job was watching TV all day at work you would still have a product that lasted 10 years.

Because plasma TVs employ phosphors for imaging, they are susceptible to glare from indoor and outdoor light. LCD TVs don't have this problem

The reality is plasma technology is declining as manufacturers pull out so you will see fewer models available. There are simply too few plasma manufacturers to sustain the market which has almost completely switched to LCD and is working hard on newer technologies like OLED.

Do I need 1080P?

Television signals can be “P” progressive scan – all the signal sent at once or “I” Interlaced with half the signal sent to the TV 2x and the TV combines the signal. Because sending a progressive signal requires so much additional bandwith Broadcast Television is sent at a Maximum of 1080i. So if you don’t have a source to feed your TV a 1080p Hi-Def Signal (Like a Blu-ray CD player) you won’t be taking advantage of the capability. If you would like the specifics I can recommend this CNET Article: 720p vs 1080p

Today's high-def broadcasts are done in either 1080i or 720p, and there's little or no chance they'll jump to 1080p any time soon, because of bandwidth issues. Dish Networks, Direct TV, and other cable and satellite providers are starting to offer 1080p content on demand, but it's worth noting that the bitrate is not as high as Blu-ray's, so there's some video-compression magic at work.

What is all this Hype about 240-HZ Frame Rate Technology?

Samsung and Sony are the only two LCD manufacturers delivering full 240-Hz performance - Sony's currently shipping 52-inch XBR7 and upcoming XBR9 models as well as the 2009 Samsung B8000- and B750-series televisions are delivering full 240-Hz screen refresh rates. PC Magazine has an excellent article on 240-HZ LCD TV Technology.

So what is Really Important when Selecting the Best TV to Buy?

The first is the picture quality and no matter how great the specifications are on paper you simply must see the screen with your own eyes. Be very careful of comparing screens side by side in stores that do not have the same content displaying on both monitors. Also insist that all settings are set to their factory defaults. It’s an old trick on sales floors to manipulate tv settings to make the model they want to sell more of look better.

The next important factor is does the Television have all the inputs and outputs you need for your purpose? If you are going to hook up Xbox, Blu-Ray, VHS, Stereo, Computer, Cable, Satellite, etc. then you must make sure you have all the necessary connections.

You’ll also want to consider size and weight. Can you move the screen by yourself should you need to? A larger TV may not be a better TV, actually a 63” screen in a small room can be difficult to watch. If you plan on sitting only 8-10” from your screen (which is actually quite common) a 32 to 42” screen is plenty large.

What about TV Brands

Well that is another personal preference. If I were you I would do some online shopping and compare reviews. See what other people have to Say. Amazon is the best place in my opinion to do this because the reviews are written by real customers and Amazon has good policies in place to allow people to post the “bad” reviews as well as the good.

For me I chose to go with Samsung because I thought the picture looked better than the competition and they had a better warranty. Many of the panels used by Sony are actually manufactured for Sony by Samsung. I own Sony products and have had good luck with their reliability, however I have also read horror stories about Sony’s customer services, especially on products purchased online by non-authorized dealers.

Happy viewing… comments welcome.

LCD TV Thickness is Decreasing!

At only 1.5cm thick this Samsung LCD TV is amazingly thin!
At only 1.5cm thick this Samsung LCD TV is amazingly thin!


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    markgoes 6 years ago

    As per the specification the Full HD must have an up scaling of 720 pixel to accommodate 1080 p and thus it is a must for and TV to get higher divination. well, for the second answer i must say that the plasma has a common burn-in problem therefore looking from the customer prospect LCD TV with IPS panel could be the best option.

  • MikeNV profile image

    MikeNV 7 years ago from Henderson, NV

    I agree. If you want to spend a ton of money the Upper Echelon Plasma's do look slightly better. But the glare isn't worth it, neither is the weight or the higher risk of damaging them when you move them. A 40-52" LCD is just right in the living room... and each season the picture quality and specifications just keep getting better as the prices drop. I'm very happy with my 32" Samsung. I've had it 4 years already and the picture is still as flawless as the day I bought it for $1,350. You can now get a similar Samsung model for $750. And for those of you considering Amazon... I actually bought my TV there and the shipping was very fast. I'd compare Amazon to Costco prices and see which works best for you. Keep in mind that Costco doesn't always have the real high end models.

  • Compareme profile image

    Compareme 8 years ago from USA

    Well researched hub! I personally prefer LCDs. Plasma screens have superior picture quality, without a doubt, but I can't stand the reflections...I don't want to watch TV in the dark only ;)

  • harrisdy profile image

    hdy 8 years ago from Texas

    great hub!

  • profile image

    Printer Ink 8 years ago

    Great information. I am still tying to figure out if I need 240mhz. I went to Best Buy and they had a split screen that was split in half running a demo, but it was fake because how can you run a demo of 120hz on one half of the screen and 240hz on the other half? It's like those old tv ads where they tried to show you how much better the color was on their tv, but it was showing on your tv. I'm thinking about buying a Samsung at amazon because the model I want is a tiny bit cheaper than best buy, free shipping and no tax!

  • TV Mount Guy profile image

    TV Mount Guy 8 years ago from On the Wall

    Good info here. Plasmas still rate higher in my book for overall picture quality, but there are really two brands that I would recommend: Panasonic and Pioneer. Neither are very cheap for the better models, but if any other brand is chosen one should go with opinion. Thanks for this hub.

  • advoco profile image

    advoco 8 years ago from cadiz

    Some things I didn't know there. Good information as always Mike.