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Flat screen TVs buying guide

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Flat Screen Tvs Guide - An Introduction

Flat screen televisions employ a variety of technologies to achieve the sleek design. Plasma and LCD are among the more popular options for consumers. Both types of flat panel technologies are noted for their space conscious design, realistic images, and colour reproduction. Each technology has its benefits. The consumer must decide which option meets their particular needs.

Flat screen televisions have superior images to the traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) design. The colours are more vibrant and realistic than the traditional televisions. High definition television (HDTV) is also supported by plasma and LCD technology. Televisions featuring this cinema quality resolution will place a denotation of 1080p on the television. Where HD is offered, the consumer will be able to enjoy the high quality image characteristic of this technology.

Depending upon the type of technology, the consumer can expect high refresh rates, low blur, and very little image degradation. Plasma technology is particularly superior in these categories. LCD is superior in terms of energy efficiency. When comparing LCD and Plasma 42 inch televisions, the LCD consumed an average 203 Watts of power, while Plasma consumed 271 Watts. However, both products offer desirable features to the consumer.

Some of the major benefits of the flat screen television are its flexibility, light weight, and sleek design. The flat screen television is portable and can accommodate many difficult spaces. Various mounts, stands, and cabinets designed for flat screens allow placement in numerous locations. For instance, the television wall mount allows flat screen televisions to be attached to virtually any wall. The television can now occupy a space that is rarely used. This frees space for other items in the room.

Like most appliances, flat screen televisions have an energy efficiency rating. Energy Star is an internationally accepted standard for rating televisions. Flat panel televisions that receive this rating consume 30 percent less energy than the average television. Europe has also adapted a second standard which hold stricter energy standards. Televisions marked with the TCO certification have also met a certain level of requirements that classify the television as possessing low energy consumption, reduced electromagnetic fields emitted, high image quality, colour reproduction, and other pertinent standards.

Tips to consider before buying Flat Screen TVs

  • Measure the space that is allocated for the television. Flat panel televisions come in a variety of dimensions: 19 inch, 26 inch, 30 inch, 32 inch, 40 inch, 42 inch, 46 inch, 50 inch, 60 inch and many more sizes. Purchase a television that is complementary in size to the space.
  • Determine whether a plasma or LCD better suits your needs. Plasma has a better image quality, and LCD is more energy efficient. Choose according to your individual needs and preferences.
  • Determine a budget for the television and mount.
  • Decide how the television will be mounted: on a wall, on a stand, or in a cabinet. Purchase a mount and factor the cost into the budget. Wall mounts and stands range in price from 18 pounds to several hundred pounds depending upon their functionality.
  • Decide whether a professional is needed for installation. Some wall mounts are complicated. If the consumer desires the wires be hidden, this may require a professional. Factor this expense into the overall budget.
  • Also, be aware of contrast ratio and aspect ratio. A superior contrast ratio is 2,000,000:1 and aspect ratio 16:9.
  • Glare is often a problem on some of the plasma screens. Be certain that the product contains anti-glare mechanism.
  • Many come with features such as Ambilight viewing and Freeview. Inquire to determine if the flat screen in consideration also offers these features.
  • Check independent reviews to determine the reliability of specific brands over time. The reliability varies from product to product and should be researched prior to purchase.

Types of Flat Screen TVs


Plasma televisions have wide angle viewing, portability, bright images, 1080p HD technology, thin screens and low blur factor. The plasma design consists of glass panels. Between the panels are several cells that hold noble gases. Electricity stimulates the cells to begin the conversion process of turning the noble gases to plasma. Visible light occurs when the ultraviolet light emitted from the plasma induces phosphor activity.


Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) is known for energy efficiency, portability, light weight, and thin profile. This flat screen also possesses 1080p technology that allows the consumer to view HD signals. The actual display is comprised of two polarising filters. Between the two filters are a layer of molecules that is stimulated by two transparent electrodes. In a resting state, the liquid crystal appears grey to the viewer. When the liquid crystal is excited by the electrodes, the molecules move in the direction of the current. The result of the movement is the image that appears to the viewer.


Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) can be used in television technology, but is typically used for displays. This particular type of technology is superior to LCD, because a lighter and thinner product can be produced. They offer superior image contrast because OLED produces a deep black that cannot be achieved by LCD. This is in part achieved by the absence of backlighting and the presence of the cold cathode fluorescent lamp in this particular design. The first OLED television produced for the mainstream public was manufactured by Sony.

Brands of Flat Panel Television


LG provides the consumer with a quality product. They offer both plasma and LCD technology. Each offers multiple styles from matte to a polished look. Plasma achieves contrast ratios of 2,000,000:1 and an aspect ratio of 16:9. Certain LCD flat screen televisions have contrast ratios of 50,000:1 and aspect ratio of 16:9. The product is lightweight. The shipping weight for a 60 inch is between 54kg and 64kg. Prices range from 300 pounds to 2600 pounds.


Panasonic offers an array of flat screen televisions to the consumer. Most of the products are Energy Star compliant. Some of the products have a contrast ratio for plasma televisions of 40,000:1 to 5,000,000:1. The LCD flat screen televisions vary starting at 20,000:1 on the lower end. Prices range from 500 pounds to 1300 pounds.


The Philips flat screen television prices depend upon the finish, the features, and the size. Prices range from 400s to 1500 pounds in the UK. Features include Ambilight and Freeview. Plasmas achieve contrast ratios of 30,000:1. The products are light weight. A 42 inch television weighs 48kg.


The price of Samsung products vary based upon features, style, size and technology. In the UK, the prices range from 500 pounds to 3000 pounds. Most Samsung products are Energy Star or TCO approved and have contrast ratios of 2,000,000:1. Some of their LCD products offer contrast ratios of 5,000,000:1. Many also offer USB ports to connect to laptops or other devices.


Toshiba offers consumers several options with their LCD flat screen televisions. Many of their products have contrast ratios of 2,000,000:1 and 16:9 aspect ratios. The products are also Energy Star rated. The average price is approximately 1200 pounds.

Listed below are other brands of flat screen televisions that have not been described for the sake of brevity.


Advice for Purchasing a Flat Screen Television

Selecting a 1080p flat screen television is a matter of personal preference. Some prefer the plasma image and others prefer the LCD image. Historically, the plasma has produced better image quality. Images do not distort at wide angles and plasma can achieve a wider range of colours and higher contrast ratios. However, many consumers are concerned about the energy efficiency and the pixel burn out rate. Most consumers have been pleased with the performance of the plasma technology and have few complaints. LCD will be more energy efficient and possesses lighter weight technology. However, LCD is more prone to blurring and distortion at wide angles. New technology has been introduced to counteract this particular pitfall.

During the selection process, consider the window placement in the TV room. Many of the plasmas have glare issues that can be alleviated with certain technologies. Inquire about anti-glare technology.

Have a professional install the unit if the mounting device is complicated or if wiring is involved. Additionally, do not install a plasma unit in temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. The gases in the plasma television will not respond well at those temperatures.

Many consumers can buy plasma and LCD televisions at incredibly cheap prices. However, there are some sacrifices. Economy models may have lower contrast ratios and brightness. They also may not offer some of the USB ports or aesthetic appeal that premium models may offer. View the image in stores to know what features are negotiable. A lower contrast ratio may not be an issue to an individual who cannot detect the difference. Experts recommend at least 2,000,000:1. Now, 5,000,000:1 is also available.

Jargon Explained

1080pThis denotation describes the image resolution of a flat panel television screen. The 1080 describes the number of vertical lines that comprise the image resolution. The “p” stands for progressive scan. Progressive scan is in contrast to interlace scanning method that is used in television design, such as cathode ray tube (CRT). Interlace scan is inferior to progressive because of the image twitter effect.
AmbilightTelevisions feature ambient light to enhance the viewing experience.
Aspect RatioThe aspect ratio involves the width measurement of an image compared to the height measurement of an image. In Europe, a 16:9 ratio supports high definition television and digital television.
Contrast RatioThe contrast ratio describes the contrast of the brightest white to the darkest black that plasma or a LCD can produce. The higher the contrast ratio, the more desirable the image will become.
Energy StarEnergy Star is an internationally accepted standard for rating televisions. Flat panel televisions that receive this rating consume 30 percent less energy than the average television.
FreeviewFreeview provides television channels for free with no contract or monthly fees associated. 
High Definition Television (HDTV)High definition television can handle 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 pixels per frame. HDTV can achieve image resolution that is unprecedented in traditional television.
TCO CertificationTelevisions marked with the TCO certification have met a certain level of European requirements that classify the television as possessing low energy consumption, reduced electromagnetic fields emitted, high image quality, colour reproduction, and other pertinent standards. 

Buying Guide to Flat screen TVs
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