How To Choose The Right HDTV For You
Five points to look for when buying a new HDTV....
When it comes to buying a HDTV there are several things you should be looking for. Unfortunately the specifications can be intentionally misleading which means you’ll have look beyond the manual to see how the TV really performs.
While the best way to test a HDTV involves spectrum analyzers and specialist test equipment, there are a number of things that the average TV watcher can look out for when buying a new HDTV.
The contrast ratio is a measurement of the luminance of the brightest color, white, to the darkest color, black. There are several ways of calculating this value, and ratios that appear to be very different actually produce the same kind of results.
Basically this ‘ratio’ is meaningless to the average user. What you should be looking for, is the brightness of the whites, and the darkness of the blacks. Since most HDTV’s perform well in the higher end of the spectrum, the darkness of the blacks is more important.
Try cupping your hands around a dark scene on the screen, is the black really black? If it glows it isn’t as good as it gets. The whites should be bright and the gradation between white and black should be nice and smooth.
Plasma screens have always produced better results, but LED-backlit LCD’s are catching up quick. Since the the LED-backlit technology is still fairly new, plasma screen are currently better value for money .
Angle of View
The angle of view if self explanatory, you should be looking for the widest viewing angle (horizontal and vertical) available in your price range.
The test is simple, viewing the screen from the center, slowly move to the left or the right, how far can you move before the colors start to fade?
The vertical viewing angle is less important as most people situate the TV at eye level, however if you are constantly up and down from you desk to your filing cabinets, or your sofa to the fridge, you might want to do a similar test to double check the depth of the vertical viewing angle.
As you can see from the pic below, even screens from the same vendors have drastically different viewing angles.
LCD’s tend to be more problematic when it comes to viewing angles, even the expensive LED-backlit LCD screens are particularly susceptible.
Without using test signals, it can be difficult to comprehend the true nature of the TV’s static resolution. The best thing you can do it look closely at the fine details in the picture. Can you make out the pin strips on the Yankee’s jerseys? Can you see every strand of hair on a close up shot? Cheaper HDTV sets won’t display the details as clearly.
Motion resolution really matters for those who watch sports, action movies and any other fast moving scenes. Again you can test the quality of the motion resolution by eye.
Just switch on any ball game or face paced sport, and again, pay special attention to the details. Is everything a blur? Can you still make out the Yankee’s pinstripes when they are in motion?
Plasma screens generally perform better in this area too, but the new 120Hz LCD’s are starting to make up for the LCD’s motion blur weakness.
The overall design and style of a HDTV may win over some buyers, but your overall impressions should not be governed by the appearance of the TV, but more the quality of the picture.
On a great set, the picture will be crisp, vibrant, rich and clean. A good way to evaluate the accuracy of a HDTV is to check out peoples faces. Do they look real, natural? Are there smooth transitions between the different shades.
With the higher price tags that come with HDTV’s, its important to school yourself before going out and buying the most expensive HDTV you can afford.
If you stick to these simple tests, as well as taking into mind the specifications, you will be better prepared to chose the right HDTV for you.
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