by Staff Writer
Picture quality and screen sizes for televisions keep improving, and prices keep dropping. It's clear that home entertainment has never been better since HDTVs started appearing in living rooms everywhere. This HDTV buying guide will help you explore your options and select the perfect high-definition TV for your entertainment setup.
Widescreen: Most HDTVs are created in widescreen format, replacing the old 4:3 aspect ratio with the more cinematic 16:9 widescreen format. This means that a widescreen 1080p high-definition TV will support a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with progressive scan, the resolution that most Blu-ray movies are made for.
Contrast ratio: Plasma and LCD televisions can only reproduce a limited range of colors. The difference between the brightest white and the darkest black an HDTV can produce is known as the contrast ratio. The higher the ratio, the more colors your television can produce. Contrast ratio can be affected by the screen type, backlighting technology, and the image processing software used by your TV.
Resolution: HDTV resolution describes the number of pixels that make up the screen. Most HDTVs have a 1920 x 1080 progressive scan (1080p) resolution. This is the same resolution that Blu-ray movies play at. Some smaller televisions use 720p resolution, which still looks great on a smaller screen.
LCD TVs: Liquid crystal display televisions are the most popular variety of HD flat-panel TV. LCD TVs are lightweight, energy-efficient, and affordable even at larger screen sizes. The screen of LCD cells is backlit by several fluorescent tubes, illuminating the picture.
An LED-backlit screen uses an array of tiny LEDs to illuminate the HDTV screen. This allows for specific LEDs to turn off, creating deeper blacks and better contrast between colors on the screen. LED TVs deliver extraordinary picture quality and allow for even thinner flat screens.
Plasma: Plasma televisions are an excellent option because of their incredible contrast ratios and fast image-response times. The individual plasma cells emit their own light, so there is no need for extra backlighting. Plasma TVs have a lightning-fast pixel response, so even fast-moving sports and action scenes don't create excessive motion-blur. They also have superior color reproduction, although LCDs are catching up to them on this feature.
HDMI: HDTVs require high-definition digital signals to provide you with the best audio and video quality. With HDMI or component cables, you'll see a major improvement over other cables when it comes to image quality and sound. HDMI cables carry both digital audio and digital video over a single connection. Blu-ray players and high-definition video game systems all have HDMI ports for connecting to your HDTV.
HDTVs as computer monitors: Due to their high-resolution displays, HDTVs make fantastic computer monitors. If you want to maximize your computer's power, you'll want to look into 1080p HDTVs that will allow you to set your computer to higher resolutions. You can then connect your laptop or desktop to your HDTV through an HDMI, DVI, or RGB connection. For the best connection, HDMI and DVI are the superior choices.