Choosing a television size that's right for you
• The optimal size of your television depends on the distance between you and the screen. With older, standard-definition televisions, the industry-accepted formula was to sit back about three times the diagonal measurement of the screen -- therefore a viewer should be about six feet away from a 27-inch TV for comfortable viewing. This was because of visible scan lines on older TVs.
But with today's HD television shows and other high-definition content (such as Blu-ray discs), you can sit closer -- you won't notice any imperfections. Some experts suggest sitting back 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal measurement of an HDTV screen; therefore, you'll want to sit between six and 10 feet away from a 50-inch TV.
What you need to know about LCD and LED TVs
• LCD and plasma TVs each have their own pros and cons. LCD TVs are available in a greater range of sizes, and they're thinner and lighter than plasma, more energy efficient and ideal for rooms with a lot of ambient light -- they tend to absorb light rather than reflect it. Glare is sometimes an issue with plasma TVs, but plasma TVs offer smoother motion (ideal for watching fast-moving sports and games), more accurate colour reproduction and better contrast ratios (darker blacks).
• LED televisions are essentially LCD TVs with better lighting technology. Rather than fluorescent tubes behind the liquid crystals, these TVs are powered by light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which offer much better contrast and a brighter display with more vibrant colours. They also consume less energy and have thinner frames. They'll likely cost more than regular LCD TVs, though.
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• Because LCD TVs don't handle fast motion as well as plasma TVs, many LCD manufacturers began optimizing performance by doubling or quadrupling the frame rate, from 60 to 120 or 240 frames per second. You might see these TVs advertised as 120 Hz or 240 Hz televisions, which means they refresh 120 or 240 images per second. These TVs reduce the odds you'll see any motion blur in high-speed sports, video games or action movies.
What is 3-D TV?
• 3-D TV isn't for everyone, but if you like the added depth or eye-popping effects delivered by 3-D movies at your local theatre, you might consider upgrading to a 3-D enabled TV in your home when the timing is right. These TVs require you to wear glasses when you're viewing 3-D content -- such as a 3-D Blu-ray movie, video game or 3-D television channel -- but you need not wear anything to watch 2-D content.
Some 3-D TVs use "active" 3-D technology that wirelessly emits the visuals from the TV to battery-powered glasses, while "passive" 3-D TVs use less expensive glasses, like the ones you get in the movie theatre. You should watch both before deciding which one is for you. More 3-D content is available now than a year ago, but it's still somewhat scarce.
The best television to buy
For the budget-conscious: For under $550 you can pick up a 42-inch Sharp Aquos HDTV (model number LC-42D69U), a full HD (1080p) LCD TV with a wide 176-degree viewing angle, four HDMI ports and the option to connect a computer.
For the couch potato: Need a good, all-around big-screen TV that won't break the bank? The 47-inch LG 47LW5000 ($1,000) is a 1080p LED HDTV with a 120 Hz refresh rate and 3-D capabilities ("party pack" of passive 3-D glasses included).
For the techie: Access hundreds of apps for on-demand video, music, photos, news and social networks with Sony's 55-inch Bravia EX720 Series HDTV ($2,400). This huge, Internet-enabled television offers LED backlighting, 3-D viewing and USB connectivity.
For the gamer: Gamers need speed, size and smooth performance, and the slim 51-inch Samsung PN51D6900 ($1,500) delivers on all three: It's a 1080p 3-D plasma TV with a 600 Hz subfield drive (for fast action), built-in Wi-Fi (for Internet connectivity) and DLNA (to wirelessly stream media to the TV from other sources).
For the movie buff: Go big or go home with Panasonic's 65-inch 1080p Full HD 3-D plasma TV ($5,000; model number TCP65VT30). Ideal for movies and games in 2-D or 3-D, this monster television delivers fast and smooth motion, exceptional contrast and multiple connectivity options (including HDMI, USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and SD memory card).
Shopping for the latest in gadgets and technology? Let tech expert Marc Saltzman help you decide what to buy. Find the best smartphones, computers, digital cameras and other tech toys to suit your family's needs with our home electronics shopping guide.
|This story was originally titled "Holiday Tech Shopping Guide" in the January 2012 issue. |
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