Tuning Into HDTV in 2008
HDTV’s are still a hot consumer item
– and events like Super Bowl inspire a big bump in sales.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the 2008 Super
Bowl will increase sales to 2.4 million high-definition TV sets.
That’s a lot of plasma, LCD and projection sets.
In spite of bumper sales, there is still a lot of confusion around
HDTV. This articles aims to clear up a few things buyers of HDTV’s
should know BEFORE they head of the TV store.
HDTV + HD Broadcast
A High Definition TV alone
will not give you HDTV results. You also need a high definition
signal to feed to the HDTV set. This can be achieved by replacing
cable boxes with digital boxes or putting a high-def antenna on
the roof. According to a study by the Leichtman Research Group,
50 percent of HDTV owners are not watching high-def programs on
their HDTV sets, yet 25 percent of them think they are.
Many new HDTV owners find that standard-def broadcasts actually
look worse on a high-def TV. This is normal. Some also complain
that the resolution does not seem as bright once they get the set
home. This is also normal. And it is not because the stores boost
up the brightness and contrast in the store-display screens. Its
just the way most sets come from the factory.
Once they are properly calibrated in the home environment they
generally look a lot better than in the store. So don’t forget
to factor in the cost of having a technician calibrate your set
at home, or negotiate it into the price of the set. Many HDTV vendors
do offer that service as part of installation. See Testing
LCD, Plasma or Rear Projection
There is also still confusion and hot
debate over Plasma, LCD or Rear projection. Both offer amazing
pictures, with the traditional issues of plasma [burn in] and LCD
[limited viewing angle, weak blacks, weak fast motion] have been
largely eliminated. The remaining differences are:
- screens still have glossy surfaces, has truer color and does
better in darker rooms
- LCD –screens are still brighter, has
more vivid color and does better in bright rooms. LCD is also
lighter and more energy-efficient but generally costs more for
the same size set.
- Rear Projection - still overlooked, to some
extent this has been due to the thickness of the screen on the
wall. However, once you mount any flat-panel TV, it’s just
as thick as today’s rear-projection sets. The quality of
the rear-projection sets is very high, and improving every year.
It still suffers from limited view angle but offer the size at
the best price. And being much lighter, they are easy to handle.
Their only drawback is a bulb replacement every few years, which
still cost $200-300.
720p or 1080p?
720p and 1080p describe
how many fine lines make up the picture. You need a 1080p signal
to get a 1080p image. As yet, there is no 1080p TV broadcast and
most likely won’t be for years. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3,
send out 720p (or less). The only way to get an 1080p picture on
a 1080p set is to buy a high-def DVD player (Blu-ray or HD DVD).
In addition, don’t expect to see any difference unless you
sit closer than 10 feet from the TV and it’s bigger than 55
inches. So don’t pay out the extra for 1080p [around $2000
more] unless you are really into long term payback.
The most popular screen
size is increasing. In previous years, it was 42 inches, now
50-inch is more common. This is largely driven by the price drops,
but be careful not to oversize the screen for the room. A 60 inch
screen needs to be viewed around 8 to 10 feet away.
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