What To Look Out For When Buying An HDTV

Posted on February 17, 2010


HDTV’s are rapidly becoming the TV of choice for many people. I made the switch early last year, as did many other people. Are you looking at getting an HDTV to replace your old CRT? Or are you adding a second set to the family? Either way, here are some things that you need to look out for when searching for a new HD set.

720p or 1080p? This is one of the first things that you should look for when buying a set, and look carefully. Many stores try and sell lower-quality 720p sets over high-quality sets by labeling them both as “HDTV’s” and then hoping that you will go for the cheaper choice (720p) over the more expensive product (1080p). True, both 1080p and 720p sets are “HD”, but only 1080p is really “True HD”. The difference? A 720p set has a resolution of 1280×720, providing 921,600 total pixels. Whereas a 1080p screen has a resolution of 1920×1080, which brings the total pixel count to 2,073,600, and the golden rule of TV’s is that the more pixels you have, the better quality you will have too. If you are unsure of whether a TV is 720 or 1080p, ask a customer service representative at the store that you’re shopping at.

60Hz or 120Hz? One of the most common confusions when buying an HDTV is the refresh rate (displayed in Hertz, or Hz). Most new HD televisions today come in two main types: 60Hz and 120Hz. With 60Hz, the picture on the screen refreshes sixty times each second. This provides normal quality when viewing an average program, but when watching something with a lot of action (like sports) the picture can get distorted. Getting a 120Hz set pretty much eliminates this, as the refresh rate is doubled– which in turn creates a smoother experience. The difference in price between a 60Hz set and a 120Hz set is minimal; so I would highly recommend getting it, as it would pay off in the long run. Then there is the matter of 240Hz, which is a newer and slightly more expensive option than 120Hz. 240Hz sets don’t bring much more to the table when it comes to normal TV, but if you watch a lot of movies, than you might want to look into this. The reason: most TV programming is shot at 60 frames per second (fps), and because 60 can be divided into 60 and 120, 60Hz and 120Hz sets have no problem displaying it. But movies are shot at 24fps, which is not divisible by 60. Because of this difference, when watching action movies you may see a bit of blurriness or choppy frames during fast motion. However, because 24 can be divided into 240, 240Hz sets can display superior movies without as much motion blur.

LED or LCD? You might have seen these new “LED” TV’s floating around on the market for the past year or so. But what are they? What advantages do they have over conventional LCD TV’s? Well, first of all LED really isn’t an appropriate name for the new TV’s. They are still Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD), but they use LED’s for back lighting. This results in a slimmer design, reduced energy consumption, brighter displays, and better contrast ratios. Now, all this is great, but is it worth the price? LCD’s are still great TV’s, and if you are on a limited budget this would most likely be your number one pick. LED’s offer some improvement, but not enough to make LCD owners feel outdated. If you have a higher price range (try $1600 more than traditional LCD tv’s) then LED’s will definitely be worth a look.

Posted in: HDTV, Products