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LCD TV Glossary

by Paul Sanders

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Modern LCD TV mounted on the wall

Navigating the technical jargon surrounding HDTVs is part of shopping for a new television. Once you know the key terms, you'll be ready to decipher LCD TV specifications and make an educated purchase. Here are some of the terms you might run across.

LCD TV Glossary of Terms:

  1. LCD: Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are used in LCD TVs to create color. The liquid crystals in each cell on the TV screen are charged with electricity, which changes the way that light passes through them. A fluorescent light bulb shines light through the crystals, which change color to generate video on the LCD TV screen.

  2. TFT: TFT stands for "thin film transistor." In LCD TVs, these transistors are so tiny that they are included in the pixels themselves, allowing pixels to talk to each other. So, an LCD TV listed as a TFT display is better able to deal with fast-moving video with lots of action, such as sports or action movies.

  3. DTV: Digital television signals replaced analog TV signals in 2009. All televisions built after March 2007 can receive DTV. If you have a pre-March 2007 TV, you will need to buy a new TV set or an adapter that will translate digital signals into analog.

  4. Pixels: These are individual points of color making up a TV picture. Pixel-count determines a LCD TV's resolution, described as the number of pixels forming the picture. LCD TVs will advertise the resolution as either the horizontal by vertical pixels, such as "1920 x 1080," or as the number of horizontal lines displayed (480, 720 or 1080). The number of pixels on LCD TVs continues to grow as HDTV manufacturers push for better detail.

  5. Interlace scan: This is the "i" you'll see in "1080i" on LCD TV descriptions. Abbreviated 480i, 720i or 1080i, interlace scan means that a LCD TV lights half of the lines on the screen in one pass and the other half on the next pass. Interlace LCD TVs show less blur in moving images by scanning twice as often, but they actually only project about 30 complete frames per second.

  6. Progressive scan: Abbreviated 480p, 720p or 1080p, progressive scan LCD TVs light every line in one scan. Progressive scan LCD TVs show greater detail by using every pixel each time the screen refreshes, which can be anywhere from 60 to 240 times a second.

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