A Guide to HD TV - An Introduction
High Definition, or hdtv tv sets are big news in home entertainment systems because they allow you to watch films or broadcasts and view videos and photos at the same quality they were made in.
This is a big step up in terms of quality viewing and the range of choices is wide and exciting, since new technology is bringing the better definition (think vastly improved picture quality) sets, such as those with widescreen hdtv and flat screen hdtv into the reach of all consumers.
Just how much better are the new hdtv pictures? The numbers tell us a hdtv set offers five times more resolution than a standard TV, because the picture has more information per screen inch than the older kinds. To understand this difference, look at a colour photo printed in a newspaper, then compare it to one from an expensive glossy magazine. The top hdtv sets offer at least that much of an improvement.
Everyone agrees the new hdtv television sets look great, but what confuses many customers is the buckets of jargon used to sell these hdtv televisions. After a few minutes of research, consumers can find themselves up to their ears in technical terms.
We understand all this new stuff gets a bit confusing, when all you want is to get a better picture on your tv set. Our guide aims to inform you about the best choices and ensure you are hdtv ready when you choose your first full hdtv television.
For a simple and straightforward guide, see our section on Types of HD TV, and if you need definitions of terms, the Jargon Buster section will explain common abbreviations and expressions used for HD TV.
Types of HD TV
The best hdtv choice for you depends on available space and funds. This part of the guide shows you how to compare the common types and sizes to help you choose the right option. The main kinds are lcd hdtv, rear-projection and plasma hdtv, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks.
plasma hdtv sets come in sizes ranging from small hdtv sets at 37 inches (measured diagonally) to medium sizes, like a 42 plasma hdtv or large models at 65 inches and insanely huge and expensive ones at 100inches and up. They are all hdtv tv capable, and the picture quality difference between the less expensive 720p and more expensive 1080p models is hard for most of us to notice at viewing distances more than 10 feet away. (The small p stands for pixel, and refers to how many of those little dots make up the picture, per inch.) However, Blu-ray Discs do use the 1080p format, and video enthusiasts may want it, if their cameras support it.
The troubles older models experienced with “burn-ins” have largely vanished due to pixel-shifting technology which you don’t see, but moves the picture around. Reducing the resolution of the picture by turning down the brightness and contrast settings also helps prevent this problem.
The latest plasma hdtv sets should have speakers and an integrated hdtv tuner built in, check these are offered to avoid extra expense when buying one.
lcd hdtv sets come in smaller sizes than their plasma hdtv big brothers, with the smallest at 15 inches, a typical medium size 32 lcd hdtv and the largest sizes at 55 inches and larger.
The price gap between hdtv lcd tv and plasma models has narrowed enough, with internet prices dropping by over 20% in the last 12 months, to allow shoppers a choice between either kinds, if they suit their needs.
Although lcd hdtv sets receive some criticism from gamers and expert home video buffs, because they are slower to display the picture leading to a slight blur, (fixed in newer sets with anti-blur systems) they do offer some significant advantages over plasma sets in running cooler and quieter and having no burn-in problems. Viewing their screens in a bright and sunny, or well lit room is no problem, a place where plasma sets really don’t do well. If moving the location of your set is likely, a typical hdtv lcd tv is 25 to 33% lighter than a comparable plasma set.
Features and Brands of HD TV
Like all major electrical appliances, the name brands of hdtv tv, such as Samsung and Panasonic offer more security, since you know their warranties will be honored and parts available. Names from other countries sometimes have no service support and you may find yourself left with an expensive bookmark, months down the road. Toshiba, Samsung and Hitachi are also trustworthy household names, for which you may pay a few more pounds, but with the numbers of models flooding the market at present, causing prices to fall, small savings on hdtv tv sets from unknown companies are just not worth it.
Features to look for include:
- The resolution, (or how good a picture you will get), should be at least 720p.Anything lower can be disappointing to view.1080p is important for owners of Blu-ray Discs and high definition video cameras.
- One or more HDMI inputs, the best way to connect up, since it is 100% digital, or a DVI with HDCP, which gives the same quality, or component, which can take HDTV signals.
- A widescreen hdtv tv set gives the kind of view you see when going to watch a film at the local theater. The ratio is 16:9, compared to a standard set of 4:3.You see this difference when a Tv displays black edges above and below the picture.
- HDMI means “high definition multimedia interface”, a complex way to express the standard format used for inputs, outputs and cables to hook up your hdtv tv to other devices.
- SCART, another clunky standard format term, is the older, non- high definition system for hooking things up.
Best buys on HD TVs
Our picks start with the popular SONY KDL19S5710 19 INCH LCD TV that gets a well deserved 5 star rating from consumers. At a very portable 5.8Kgs, it’s a great second lcd hdtv set to take to any room in the house or a main one in crowded quarters. Features include the” must-haves” we discussed above and some nice extras such as a USB port for connecting to digital cameras, video camcorders and media players or anything else you can think of, while the 2 HDMI ports connect to a Blu-ray Disc players and gaming tools like Playstation. This model supports the Sony name for great picture definition, comes in at just over three hundred pounds, representing great value in a small package.
For a medium size plasma hdtv the Samsung LE40B650T2W - 40" Crystal TV LCD TV is hard to beat, since all the usual plasma issues have been resolved by Samsung hdtv with a superior motion blur system to satisfy sports fans and great saturation in the darker tones. Offering 1080p and widescreen viewing, a USB port, input and outputs for HDMI, SCART and Component devices, its patented Crystal TV screen gives a true and pleasing picture. The Samsung lcd hdtv is a good looking set to grace any room and while a bit higher in price than the popular 32 model it replaces, well worth it.
A larger luxury plasma hdtv model to fit the whole family around or to watch the big game in style comes from Panasonic, who along with Sony seem to benefit from also being manufacturers of highly rated Digital Cameras, since they offer the best quality pictures we have seen. This Panasonic TH50PZ80B 50 inch VI has drawn rave reviews from some of our customers with no previous experience of larger size plasma sets The difference in visible details and the natural skin tones are two of the most remarked upon features on this model. As you might expect from a top of the line model, USB ports, 3 HDMI and 2 SCART connections, plus 1080p, widescreen view and anti-retention system to prevent burn-in comes as standard.