flat-screen LCD-TVs are all the rage. It began with the LCD monitor
revolution that replaced many bulky CRT monitors on computer desks,
saving space and reducing eye strain. Now, the same is happening
to TVs. Besides being thinner and lighter than conventional CRT
TVs, LCD-TVs are crisper, brighter and take less power to run. You
know you want one. But before you go and spend you hard-earned money,
there are a few things that you'll need to consider.
High-Definition TV (HDTV) is a new digital television standard that
offers superior image and audio quality versus the 50 year old analog
standard. When looking at LCD-TVs, the term HDTV is tossed around
a lot and you might assume that you can pull an LCD-TV out of the
box, power it on and experience High-Definition TV. Not necessarily.
There are two types of LCD-TVs:
- LCD-HDTVs include an ATSC (digital signal) tuner and are capable of displaying
High-Definition content right out of the box. They can pick up
any available over-the-air HD signal with an additional antenna.
However, to get all the content offered by cable and satellite
providers, you still need a provider-specific converter.
- LCD-TVs that are labeled HD-Ready include an
NTSC (analog signal) tuner and are capable of showing HD content
but require a separate tuner for HD signal reception. An HD tuner
is usually included in a Media Center PC or can be included in
a cable or satellite box.
There may be lots of ways to connect a cable to a TV, but when selecting
a TV, make sure it has enough ports to connect all of your devices
such as a cable TV box, DVR, VCR, DVD player and game console. If
you're connecting all of your devices though a home theater receiver,
you only need to worry about matching the ports of the TV to the
receiver. LCD-TVs are grown-up versions of LCD monitors that you
connect to your computer. Most will have a VGA (or DB-15) analog
video port so you can connect either a computer or Media Center
PC. Composite, S-Video and Component ports are also analog video
connections and are standard in most TVs and A/V devices. For you
hard-core videophiles, you'll want a digital video connector instead
of analog. Look for a DVI, or better yet HDMI port, on your TV and
A/V equipment. This will keep the signal purely digital.
Many specifications of LCD-TVs are measured in unfamiliar numbers.
Which number is best? Here's a quick guide:
- Brightness: The measure of how much light a panel can produce measured in
candelas per square meter (cd/m²) or nits. LCD-TVs typically
go from 450 to 800 nits. The larger the number, the brighter the
- Pixel Pitch: The distance between like-colored
pixels in the display. The closer the pixels, the sharper the
image. 0.4mm is better than 0.5mm.
- Response Time: This measures how fast the image is redrawn on the screen, specified
in milliseconds (ms). The smaller the number, the better. 25ms
is good, less than 20ms is excellent.
- Contrast Ratio: This is the difference between the darkest black and the brightest
white. The larger the ratio, the better. For example, an 800:1
contrast ratio has a better contrast range than 600:1.
For the sake of keeping this article short, we've mainly focused
on LCD-TVs. Plasma TVs are the more expensive big brothers to LCD-TVs.
While Plasma TVs have the same types of ports as LCD-TVs and come
with or without an HD tuner, they come in larger sizes (40"
to 55"), are brighter (more than 1000 nits), and have much
higher contrast ratios (up to 3000:1). With these high-end features
comes high-end prices.
an LCD-TV comes down to finding the right size for your room and
budget. With this guide you'll be enjoying flat, widescreen HD goodness
in no time.