HDTV Checklist (what you need to consider)
Ok, it is time for a new TV; this HDTV thing seems to be all the rage, so you may want to get one of those. Your buddy or
colleague at work just got one, and can’t stop taking about how great it is. On the way home from work, you stop in at your local
AV retailer to have a look at some HDTVs. The first thing you notice is they are big, a lot bigger that what you are watching now,
the picture is breathtaking, sharp and detailed. Then you look at the price, it’s big too, a lot more than you paid for you last TV.
You talk to your buddy or colleague, who already owns an HDTV, and they tell you it is the best thing they ever purchased; they have
convinced you to buy. You check a few flyers in the newspaper to see if there are any sales on, find one in your price range and
head to store to purchase. At the store, you find the HDTV you came to purchase, but right next to it is one that has a better picture,
or is bigger, or both for just a little more money. You decide to get that one.
You’re excited about your new possession, and can’t wait until it’s delivered so you can enjoy it in your home. Finally the new set
is delivered; you take it out of the box, hook it up; turn it on.... It just doesn’t look as good as it did at the store. The picture
is big, but not breathtaking; it is very ordinary looking. Is it broken? A lot of days, phone calls and trips back and forth to the AV
retailer later, not to mention a few calls to your cable or satellite provider, you finally get what you were excited about; although
you’re probably not that excited any more.
Have you heard parts of this story before, or maybe you’ve lived this story. I heard it, first hand from my brother-in-law, as he
told me about his adventure with getting an HDTV. Getting a new TV used to be simple. Go to the store find the one with the best picture
that you can afford; take it home, hook it up and enjoy. It’s not so simple anymore; there are lots of things you should know before
you hit the stores. Hopefully, you already understand the differences between DTV and HDTV;
the different HDTV resolutions; and the pros and cons of LCD,
Plasma, Rear Projection CRT, DLP and LCoS. When you are ready to take a
step into the world of HDTV, here is a check list of what you need to consider and budget for:
The first and most obvious thing you need is a display of some kind that is capable of displaying high definition images. Somehow,
people have gotten it in their head that Plasma, or more recently its flat panel rival LCD are “the best” HDTV displays. Unfortunately,
a blanket state that one technology is “the best” couldn’t be further from the truth. What is the best HDTV depends on what we are using
as the yardstick to measure “the best”, how and where you will be using the HDTV display, and a number of other factors that will vary from
household to household. If, “the best” is with regard to picture quality, the crown still sits squarely on the head of CRT (cathode ray
tube), yes good old tube TV. The problem with CRTs is their size and weight. The largest CRT that was ever produced for consumer use
measured about 40 inches diagonally, was about 26” deep, and weighed over 300 lbs. Producing bigger CRTs is not practical, since the
sheer size of the set would not allow it to fit through your doorway, and you would probably need a forklift or some other assistive
lifting device to get a 500lbs 50” tube into your living room.
The things to consider before you fix on one particular technology are:
If you have set a budget for this purchase, you can have a look at the catalogue of what’s available; or try
the HDTV search tool to search by budget and specific features (size, brand, display technology, etc).
If you will be watching TV in the typical living/family room during the daylight hours with sunlight streaming in or when viewing
TV at night you leave lights on, LCD, rear project CRT, rear projection LCoS and DLP are the best match for this type of environment.
You must be able to control the amount of ambient light entering the room to get the benefits of a Plasma HDTV. Plasma displays have
a glass front panel as a result they perform much better in a low or no ambient light environment.
To see the increased detail of HDTV, we need to sit closer to these sets that we did with standard definition TV. The higher the
resolution, the closer we need to sit to the set, or alternatively the size of the HDTV needs to increase as you sit further away. The
price of your set will increase with the size. Rear projection technologies CRT, DLP and LCoS, have the best cost /square in. If you need
a set 50 inch or bigger, the savings over flat panel LCD or Plasma are considerable.
If you plan to use your HDTV to play video games, watch action movies, or watch sports with lots of fast moving objects, then the
technology behind DLP and Plasma are natively suited to this type of content. LCD technology suffers from what is called motion lag,
which results from the length of time an individual LCD cell to be illuminated (1/60 of a second) before it is refreshed. When there
is rapid movement of an object on an LCD panel, the object can appear blurry to our eyes as a result. Superior LCD HDTVs can correct
this problem by using 120Hz refresh rate technology. Under most implementations of this new technology, whenever rapid motion is
detected, the panel will refresh the images on screen at a rate of 120 times per second, instead of the native 60 times per second.
With the increased refresh rate, our eyes no longer perceive the motion lag.