What does this mean? And this?

I worked as a Wal-Mart sales associate for about half of a year in the electronics department, and noticed many people that had questions were about televisions. Most of the questions were the same, about which brands, picture quality, refresh, and so on. So now I have decided to try and compile these questions into an article and try to answer them. Many answers are simple to understand and explain, while others may be a bit more complex and technical to some. It is easy to understand the confusion when it comes to televisions because they have come so far in so little time, with a plethora of advances that are hard to keep up with. Televisions change every single day, and as a matter of fact a big new change just happened recently with the release of ultra-high definition sets now available from a few distributors. It is important to remember when buying televisions from a store that they are usually in certain lighting that is best for that type and plugged into high definition hookups. This is important because if you get a certain TV and put it in a room with different lighting and/or hookups than the store had it will be less impressive and thus a disappointment.


Types and Hertz

One of the first questions asked is: Which type of TV is best?” This question is dependent on the needs and the wants of the individual, and the price they are willing to pay. If you are looking for cutting edge technology, and the newest thing (besides ultra-high definition) then you’re going to want an LED TV. These are more expensive up front, but will save you money in the long run with using less electric. LED TVs may be newer and shinier, but that doesn’t mean they are the best. LED TVs are much lighter and will be easier to hang on a wall or to move around. Moving an LED or LCD around is also a lot easier than moving a plasma television because they are heavier and shouldn’t be tipped a certain way or else damage to the set could occur.

Another question is: “Why do some of these TVs look blurry and others don’t?” This is the speed of the refresh rate of the TV, seen as hertz on the description. Hertz can be 60, 120, 240, or 600 with 600 being the highest and the fastest. This concept is easy to understand if you think of an old movie reel with the large length of tiny pictures flying through the machine to deliver a picture. The pictures move so fast that your eye has a hard time finding the difference between them so your brain pieces them together as it goes, thus creating a seemingly moving image, or video. The speed has increased tremendously over the years and 60Hz is decent for regular watching, but not recommended. I wouldn’t recommend it because you would still see some blurring from time to time, especially with fast moving content, such as war movies or games. Up from that at 120Hz you might notice blur every once and a while but it would be far less than the 60Hz. At 240Hz you should never really see any blur, though there could be the rare moment that you do. The tricky thing about 600Hz is that when the manufacturers came out with this, they needed special software to boost the TVs to the 600Hz that they claimed they were capable of. Many of the sets needed an upgrade for this, and so were really 240Hz.

Contrast and High Definition

“What does contrast ratio mean” is another common question that many people think they know the answer to, but had it mixed up some. Contrast ratio is a comparison of the darkest black and the brightest white, also known as luminescence. Many people mistake this claim as meaning the higher the ratio the more colors their set will have. This is not the case however because the other colors are not taken into effect at all, just black and white. On top of that, skepticism has arrived over how manufacturers measure this number, and very little answers have come from them. This is not a number I would pay much attention to when selecting a TV, but others might tell you differently; it is up to you to decide.

If you have paid attention to recent high definition advertising, then you probably think 1080p is another important thing to look for. For many people, it is important, but others are paying money for something that they won’t ever use. Standard definition is 480p and is what most regular television is. If you only watch regular TV shows and don’t plan on buying a blu-ray player or game system, then you shouldn’t spend money on a 1080p television because you won’t ever use that aspect of it; everything you watch will be 480p. The only way to see the full high-definition 1080p resolution is with a 1080p TV connected to a blu-ray or other high definition compatible player with HDMI cables connecting the two. Take any one of these aspects away and the best you can get is 720p. This is the same for 3D television; you have to have a 3D TV with a 3D compatible player and pay extra for a 3D movie.

Seeing is Believing

Overall, LCD is on its way out the door, slowly but surely. In many ways plasma is also going downhill, though I hate this fact. Plasma is honestly the best for the price if you can handle the few downsides, like the weight and fragility of it. Plasma had its bad days in the past which ruined its reputation today. I have heard stories about plasma TVs catching on fire on the wall, and having the picture burn in after a picture has set for so long, and that they don’t last as long as the other types. All of these things however, have been taken care of with various technological advances, and now they have excellent picture, use much less electric (though still run a little bit hotter than LCD and LED sets),  and they last as long as the others. Plasma TVs show up better in darker rooms as well, which is ideal for any theatre environment. They are cheaper than LEDs because they are older technology (which isn’t always a bad thing), and cheaper to manufacture than LED sets. In the end however, the best thing to do is go to a store and look at them first hand to see for yourself.