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A Guide to Understanding LCD TVs

Technology is always changing, and in its more recent evolutions, the LCD TV was born. Using light-modulating properties called liquid crystals (LCs) -- which are also used in computer monitors -- these flat televisions are more energy efficient and have sharper imaging. Because the technology was originally intended for computer-based video, the LCD screen is the best tool for accepting a variety of video formats, including composite video (television picture), S-video (VHS tapes), component video (DVD, VHS, video game and computer videos) and RGB video (computer videos based on a red-green-blue color system).

Types of LCD TVs

LCD TVs do not have many different styles, other than basic features, such as size, input methods and price. Always on a flat screen, LCD TVs all include crystal-clear images, great sound quality and high resolution, ensuring a good viewing experience.

For some, the "refresh rate" (the number of times per second that a display hardware draws data) of the LCD is slightly slower than that of the plasma TV, meaning there may be some mild flickering between shots. Still, these will be minor in comparison to the flickering that occurs with a standard television screen. LCDs are also more energy efficient than traditional and plasma screens. LCDs are at least 40 percent more efficient to operate than plasma and typically 80 percent more efficient than an old box TV.

Important LCD TV Features

  • Size is a luxury that LCDs can afford. LCD TVs can range anywhere from 7 to 108 inches. They have higher resolution than older TV models, so you can get away with having a larger screen in your home. In other words, sitting closer won't derail the image quality.
  • HDMI inputs are the latest update to entertainment system technology, so for compatibility issues, it is best to look for a TV with several. Short for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, they carry high-definition audio, outputs for Blu-ray players and a copy-protection standard -- preventing illegal copying of HD movies -- among other things. Blu-ray players, for example, won't pass on their higher-resolution settings to the TV unless it is hooked in using an HDMI input.

LCD TV Setup

Always read the owner's manual before first using your new LCD TV. They often have different rules and restrictions, depending on input/output settings, among other things.

If you plan to hook your LCD screen up to a computer, make sure there is a digital visual interface (DVI). This allows non-compressed data to play on your TV screen. Some DVI outputs on older PCs will require an adapter to add audio.

Also, your LCD TV will always look best when it is displaying high-definition content, such as Blu-ray and HD cable programming. If you watch non-widescreen programming, there may be black letterboxing bars on the left and ride sides of the screen, and this is normal, as all LCD screens are formatted for widescreen imaging.

LCD TV To-Do List

  1. Pick a good room for your LCD TV. LCDs work best in bright rooms, because their screens appear brighter, avoiding a washed-out look under sunlight. Many LCDs also have adjustable backlights, so you can adjust the brightness to fit different light settings.
  2. Be sure you have a correspondent stand or mounting hardware. The wrong device can leave your screen unsupported or damaged. For this reason, you should look for a TV where a stand comes included in the price. Typically, these will be basic stand tables. If you want wall-mounting hardware, you will likely have to shop separately, so consult a representative before purchasing a mount to verify that it is compatible for your TV and for your wall. Separate hardware can cost anywhere from $50 to $200, so don't pay extra for a basic stand with your TV if you know you'll be buying something else later.
  3. Price varies severely from retailer to retailer, so shop around. Prices will also fluctuate if you are looking for TV models that come with a stand or mounting hardware, so be aware of this. More recent LCD models have better picture quality, so the extra cost may be worth it, depending on your preferences. In the end, your LCD can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000.
  4. Always check the manufacturer's policy/warranties. If you buy from an unauthorized dealer, then you can save money, but you may also void the manufacturer's warranty. Particularly with LCD TVs, which are expensive, you'll want to have the warranty in place should anything malfunction. Some unauthorized dealers will offer their own warranty plans, so double check before writing a check.
Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for

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