Once upon a time choosing a television was simple with only glass cathode ray sets and large rear projection models available.
To help you decide what's the best set for you here are some answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about Buying A Television.
TV programming and movies tend to fill widescreen formats these days so with a widescreen model you will see your movies as intended. They are also great for sport and nature programmes.
Widescreen TVs are better for your eyesight. Widescreen televisions are compatible with the way your eyes work. Your field of vision is wider than it is higher.
Better picture quality. The High Definition Television standard defined by the Advanced Television Standards Committee specifies 16:9 displays as the desired format for viewing. These standards are available with most widescreen televisions.
An LCD TV is a flat panel television using Liquid Crystal Display technology of the type previously available in mobile phones and computer screens.
LCD TVs consist of two layers of glass material which are stuck to each other. One layer contains liquid crystals which filter electric currents. Their ability to block or allow light creates the images you see on your screen.
LCD TVs remain a popular option due to their superb picture quality, widescreens and thinness which makes them a convenient and practical addition anywhere in the home. They can hang easily on your wall or on a desk stand.
LCD TVs are not only thin but require low power. Another advantage is that LCD TVs do not transmit radiation from their screens like conventional TVs. Most LCD televisions already have built-in standard TV tuners and are not as prone to overheating as Plasma TVs and traditional sets.
Plasma televisions consists of cells of neon xenon gas sealed in a plasma screen. These cells are electrically charged to create the red, green, and blue colours which make up your television image.
A key advantage of Plasma sets is that they do not need a bulky Cathode Ray Tube to produce your image so they can be made in thin flatscreen formats. Plasma televisions are also offer larger screen sizes than LCD TVs and better colour definition and tracking of moving images. LCD televisions also tend to be more expensive. But at the end of the day whether you buy a Plasma or LCD flatscreen Home Cinema is a matter of personal taste. Both are high quality options.
Analogue TV, or Analog TV, is the traditional broadcasting technology in use since television was first developed. Analogue uses magnetic waves to transmit and display sound and images. The best Analogue picture quality available to consumers is HDTV quality. Analogue TV is now in a transition period in the UK waiting for a permanent switch to Digital TV. Analogue will disappear completely in 2012. The majority of television stations are continuing to screen Analogue alongside Digital programming until then.
Digital Television Technology - DTV - broadcasts the information used to make TV pictures and sound via data bits in much the same way as a computer. Digital TV systems can send more information than an Analogue system so the technology allows the transmission of images with higher resolutions. This means you experience a better picture as well as superior sound quality. DTV also provides multi channel interactive video and data which would be impossible with outdated analogue technology. Mass conversion to DTV will also free up broadcast airwaves for other services, such as police and rescue teams.
High Definition Television (HDTV) is the highest quality format of Digital TV. It provides high resolution programmes and sound and can include Dolby Digital Surround Sound. HDTV uses widescreen format and can have more than twice as many lines on a picture than Analogue programming thus enabling high quality images. It also allows the transmission of several TV programmes at once. Otherwise known as multicasting. HDTV uses the same amount of bandwidth as Analogue systems but six times more information can be sent.
HDTV is the highest quality type of Digital TV but only one of several alternatives. Other common digital formats are Standard Definition Television (SDTV) and Enhanced Definition Television (EDTV). SDTV is the basic model for Analogue and Digital viewing. EDTV is the next level up providing better image quality but not as high as HDTV.
Most LCD TVs are set for HDTV except some of the smaller versions so when buying an LCD always check to see if it is EDTV or HDTV.
You will also want to consider the size of the space your new TV is going into. Is the wall space big enough?
Also consider viewing distance between seating and the screen. As a general rule the distance between you and the screen should be four times the width of your TV. If the screen is too close it can make viewing uncomfortable and be bad for your eyesight.
Consider sound quality and picture quality, the amount of inputs and outputs to suit your needs, plus controls and ease of use. Does it have a remote control? Are there controls on the TV itself?
Remember, Plasma and LCD screens are the most popular TVs and the best way of enjoying digital TV and High Definition TV.
Widescreen is your television picture aspect ratio for screen width: screen height. Analogue TV has an aspect ratio of 4:3, meaning the screen is 4 units wide and 3 units high. HDTV aspect ratio is 16:9, similar to standard cinema projection. 16:9 widescreen TVs are regarded as the best option for watching films as you can see them in their original widescreen format.
Rear Projection TVs project their images onto the back of a translucent screen similar to the way a movie projector works. These TVs are more like traditional looking sets but they are much thinner now and are available in widescreen. Projection TVs be as wide as Plasma TVs but they are often cheaper. They use a variety of technologies including Cathode Ray and LCD and are available as Analogue or integrated HDTV. They are also available in Digital Light Processing (DLP) and Liquid Crystal On Silicon (LCOS) formats. LCD is thought to have the best image quality and is the only one available in flatscreen.
Digital Light Processing (DLP) creates superb image results working by shining a light through a small spinning red, green, and blue colour wheel onto a matrix of mirrors known as a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD). Each mirror represents one pixel in the projected image. Light is transformed into the projected image which is then reflected onto the screen. DLP TVs are lighter and slimmer than Cathode Ray Tube models but are not as thin or light enough to be hung from a wall.
Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) is up-to-date technology for projection TVs. LCOS is a similar reflective technology to DLP projectors but using liquid crystals instead of mirrors. LCOS Rear Projection televisions are super thin and use either one chip or three chip types. One chip models produce the red, green and blue colours via one chip while three chip models use a chip for each separate colour. LCOS TVs offer great value and provide very good end results.