Buying an LCD TV

Posted by avatarDavid last updated August 25, 2006 at 2:47 am

With great power comes great responsibility -- an uncle of mine once said (OK, not my uncle, but A uncle said it). Today's power is in the form of the all-mighty buck that helps companies decide what to manufacture. TVs are no exception to this rule and especially LCD TVs. What I want to know is what features are actually useful on these TVs and what's marketing fluff.

My findings...

  • The latest and greatest in video quality is 1080p, but to really get the most out of a 1080p TV, you need 1080p quality content. Since the whole Blu-ray/HD-DVD thing is still not settled, I am ignoring 1080p all together. Another point with 1080p is you need a large screen to really see the quality that quality video's bring. The XBox 360 and PS3 both support 1080p (I actually dont' know this for a fact, but I'm assuming they do) so if you really want to leverage your systems, a 1080p TV is the way to go.

  • A high contrast ratio seems to be a good thing to get sharp images rather than blurry ones. I actually don't know if this is true but Samsung's marketing material seems to indicate this.

  • HDMI is the latest and greatest in video connection methods. You WANT a TV with HDMI so when the whole Blu-ray/HD-DVD battle settles you can use the best connection (this is like buying a Ferarri and using Octane 87 gas instead of Octane 94).

  • A viewing angle of 178 degrees seems to be the new standard. This is just the horizontal viewing angle and the vertical viewing angle is usually much worse. So if you can go and see your TV in a store, check above and below the screen to make sure it still looks decent.

  • You want as many bits of colour processing as you can get. 10-bit processing is the highest available today and this just gives you a larger number of colours the TV can accurately reproduce.

  • Response times are a poor indicator of what an LCD TV can actually do. Most of the these numbers are based on a single pixel changing from one shade of grey to another shade of grey. However, if a TV can't even do this fast, I don't want to see how long a colour to colour transition would take. This is important so you don't get something called "ghosting". Ghosting is basically the LCD TV creating a blurred image during scenes of quick motion. It seems like 8ms response times are what the better LCD TVs are claming.

Keep on adding to the list of known things to look for/avoid or just general buying tips.