LED, LCD, Plasma & More: A Beginner’s TV Shopping Guide

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If you’re a sports fan, you know the home with the biggest and best television set gets the honor of hosting the neighborhood Super Bowl/Play-Offs/World Series party. If you love Blu-Ray movies, you know the difference a few pixels can make. Even if you simply enjoy watching your favorite shows each night, finding the right TV can make a big difference in your viewing experience, and your wallet.


What’s the Difference Between LED, LCD and Plasma?

When it comes to television screens, plasma and LCD TVsare at the top of the list. As technology improves, LED TVsand projection TVs are also making the list. All have their advantages and here are just a few:

  • Plasma TVshave a sharper resolution when displaying moving images.
  • Plasma TVs have a wider viewing angle.
  • Plasma TVs are less expensive than LCD TVs.
  • LCD TVs weigh less.
  • LCD TVs are easier to see in brightly light rooms.
  • LED TVs use less power and have a longer life span.
  • LED TVs have the thinnest screen.

What Size TV Should you Get?

When it comes to a television, bigger isn’t always better. The TV should be a good fit for the room. If the TV is too large, the game/show/movie will look pixilated and grainy on the screen. If you want the largest Super Bowl TV screen on the block, consider a DLP projection TVfor a screen up to 82 inches.

How to Find the Perfect TV Size for your Room:

  1. Measure the distance (in inches) between the TV and where people will be sitting.
  2. Divide by 2.5 to find the ideal screen size.

For viewing a football game, a screen size between 46 inches and 55 inches will fit in most homes. A 32 inch TV may be needed for smaller rooms.

How to Optimize Your new TV’s Picture Quality

Make sure you buy, and use, the right features for your favorite sports, movies and shows.

  • A high motion performance rating and a high refresh rate ensure you will see every detail of the game. Don’t go below 60Hz (refresh rate).
  • A wide viewing angle gives people sitting to the side of the screen as good a view of the game/movie/show as those sitting directly in front of the TV.
  • High contrast and black levels display a brighter and clearer picture, perfect for movie buffs and nature documentary fans.
  • In TVs that are larger than 40 inches, choose the set with the higher resolution. A 1080p HDTVwill show more detail in screens over 40 inches but the difference is not noticeable in smaller TVs.
  • HDMI inputs connect the TV with Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles and other devices. Also helpful for streaming video and audio from a computer to the TV, and is the method for connecting your computer to the television. If you know you’ll want accessories like these, make sure your new TV has at least one HDMI input.
  • The quality of the sound system can save you a bundle on stereo equipment. Check out the sound before buying.
  • For a real-life Super Bowl experience, look for a TV that offers 3D HDTV capability. Some of these sets come with special 3D glasses and extra glasses may be purchased. Keep in mind that the 3D experience may be diminished or impossible if you’re not sitting front and center at the TV.

Now you know the basics when it comes to LED, LCD, Plasma and more. Make sure you view each option in person before making a decision, and only pay for the features you know you’ll really use.

Last Updated: April 2, 2013
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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