Flatscreen TVs are the generic term for the latest technology widescreen TVs which are very popular with consumers. There are two main kinds of flatscreen TVs - plasma and LCD flatscreens. Both plasma and LCD technologies can create thin, lightweight TV screens with large screen areas. Flatscreens have long viewing lives, are lightweight and versatile. They can hang on the wall if need be.
Flatscreen televisions are more popular than ever. In late 2006 one was being sold every six seconds. In 2006 more than 3 million flatscreen TVs were sold in the UK. As of Xmas 2006 the most popular product in the consumer electronics market is flatscreen TVs, accounting for 48 per cent of consumer electronic sales. Consumers are increasingly buying larger screens with LCD and plasma tvs the most popular.
When flatscreens were first manufactured by Pioneer they cost around £10,000.
Now they fall somewhere in the region of £130. You can pay around £150 for a 15 inch screen and about £5,000 for a 60 inch screen. Most shoppers these days spend somewhere between £650 and £1,000 and select on average a 38 inch model.
Plasma screens are made up of electrically charged cells of neon xenon gas which create the red, green, and blue colours of your TV image. Virtually all plasma displays are thin wide-screen formats and many come with built-in speakers. Some plasma products are display only with no speakers or built-in TV tuner. Plasma models have traditionally offered larger screen sizes than LCD TVs and slightly better colour definition.
Two thin panels of mounted glass comprised of electrically powered networks of tiny pixels made from minute pockets of compressed gas. Each pixel contains sub-pixels of red, green and blue which produce million of different colour variations. When the electrical current is applied all the pixels emit light simultaneously creating a crystal clear image.
Because they are so thin they save on space in your home. They are very versatile. You can place them anywhere with stand mounting or on a wall even on the ceiling.
Plasma display monitors have screens that are perfectly flat with no curvature which aids picture quality.
Apart from high resolution, superb colour and sharpness Plasma displays have a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio which is the intended ratio for movies. This is why DVDs look great on them. This is also the perfect format for HDTV.
Plasma TVs also have superb even screen brightness.
They also offer a wider viewing angle, allowing more people to watch, ideal for pubs or family get togethers.
Most plasma monitors can accept any video or digital format: NTSC, PAL, SECAM, HDTV, DVD movies, satellite broadcast and Broadband Internet connection.
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. This technology has been around for a number of years as seen on mobile phone screens and computer screens. Now it is commonly used to deliver high quality flatscreen TVs. The super slim design and brightness of the LCD models make them a very attractive option for consumers.
As well as their superb picture quality and widescreen formats their super thinness also makes them a versatile product for anywhere in your home. Like plasma TVs they can be wall hung or on a desk or stand. Most LCD televisions have built-in digital TV tuners. Their Liquid Crystal Technology means they are not as prone to overheating as Plasma models.
LCD televisions 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 pixellated light creates the images you see on your screen. LCD TVs are flicker free because the LCD has a constant source of light over the whole screen.
LCD panels are brighter than conventional TVs due to the use of pixels. Superb screen brightness is due to the pixel technology's performance against the fluorescent backlight. LCD panels are constructed in various sizes and shapes to accommodate 16:9 ratios for widescreen displays. Like Plasma TVs they can be wall mounted. These ultra thin TVs maximise the space in your home. Low power consumption means they are more energy efficient then conventional TVs.
The size of the screen will normally affect the price. The bigger models are generally more expensive. But also you need to consider the right size screen for the size of the room. Your TV should deliver the correct picture for where you sit. A rough guide for good viewing and for the good of your eyesight is that you should sit a distance that is between three and six times the width of the screen. About a four times ratio should do it for most people. The best way to pick the right size TV for your room is to measure it up and stick a piece of card or paper up in your room to judge what is comfortable. As well as a comfortable size and location for viewing you may want to consider style implications of where it should go.
This is a question of style as well as spatial awareness. Clearly they look good on the wall but which one and in which room? Some people like them over the fireplace. Others find this too dominating. Think about this carefully. If you have the luxury of a spare room to let your flatscreen dominate and turn it into a home cinema room that is fine; but if it is going in your multi-purpose living room, think more carefully about the location. Another tip that might work is to locate your flatscreen where an old fireplace once existed. Don't forget if you have the space flatscreens can still look good on a traditional stand or cabinet in the corner of the room.
LCDs typically are often more expensive in the classic screen sizes
LCDs have lower contrast ratios than plasmas and struggle more with dark shades.
Plasma TVs have in the past had quicker response times.
LCD TVs tend to be thicker than plasma TVs for the same price
Plasma TVs are more easily viewable from the side.
LCD TVs are immune to overheating and are easier to view in brightly lit rooms.
LCDs usually include all the built-in features of a traditional TV.
Check out the contrast ratio which refers to the brightest and darkest light values a display can produce at the same time. The higher the contrast ratio is the better.
The aspect ratio describes the relationship of screen width to screen height. Conventional sets have a 4:3 aspect ratio whereas most flatscreens have wide-screen 16:9 which is what you should look for.
The resolution is specified as the number of pixel columns by the number of pixel rows e.g. 1280 by 720. Generally speaking, a display is considered high definition if it is wide screen and has a total pixel count approaching 1 million. So 1920 by 1080, 1280 by 720, 1366 by 768, and 1024 by 1024 are all good examples of high-definition displays.
Always check the number and type of video inputs which determine which sources you can use with the display.
This is one of the highest-quality types of inputs. Handy for connecting a computer
Digital visual interface is a digital RGB connection, commonly used for HDTV tuners and occasionally for DVD players; it may also be used for computer connections.
Digital connector that transfers video and audio. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) or HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) compliant DVI input are excellent. This will ensure full compatibility with HDTV such as HD digital cable, HD satellite receivers, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players.
Low quality but broad compatibility. Any device that has video outputs will include composite video among them. Uses a single cable between RCA jacks.
Better quality than composite video. VCRs now have S-Video outputs. Connection is made with a special cable and multi-pin sockets.
High quality minimum standard for HDTV tuners and DVD. Three basic cables.
High-quality input. Requires five basic cables.
Video Graphics Array high-quality analogue RGB connection used for computer connection.
If you want to watch standard broadcast digital TV you need a built in TV tuner. If you use satellite or cable not necessary.
Most flatscreens look great with HDTV and DVD but check other signals too. Check a variety of images and broadcasts.
Check the screen against a darkly lit old movie. Often a sign of good quality is the ability to broadcast good low light images.
Check you are happy with the remote. Is it too bulky. How easy is it to use. What features does it have. Some have glow in the dark buttons.
Play with the contrast, brightness, colour controls etc. The display in the shop will probably not have the best settings. Check on a variety of channels/images.
HD (High Definition) Television is the highest quality Digital TV format providing superb high resolution images and sound. HD is the technology European standard for televisions able to display HD material and can include Dolby Digital Surround Sound. HDTV uses the same amount of bandwidth as Analogue systems but six times more information can be sent hence the superb quality. HD also allows the transmission of several TV programmes at once also known as multi-casting.