If you’re still waiting to take the plunge and buy your first HDTV, you may not be able to wait much longer. Because most stores don’t stock anything else, you may only be one broken TV set away from being forced into the market.
However, the array of features can be confusing and a little overwhelming. Before you step into the electronics store, make sure you understand the most important features of HDTV units.
1. HDTV Type
Sure, you want an HDTV, but which kind? Before going any further, decide whether you prefer LCD, Plasma, or one of the new projection HDTVs.
- LCD – You’ll get more screen for your money with an LCD compared to a plasma, but you’ll sacrifice those really deep blacks. LCD HDTVs are also lighter for easier wall-mounting and use less energy than plasma, but views from a side view can be a little iffy.
- Plasma – Generally, plasma HDTVs are a little bit more expensive than an LCD of the same size; they’re heavier, and they get a little hotter because they use more energy. However, the blacks are truly black, and you have a crisp view from any angle. If you place a plasma HDTV in a brightly-lit room, you may see a little bit of glare across the glass screen.
- Projection HDTVs – This is the least expensive type of HDTV if you’re going for size, but the picture quality doesn’t even compare to the LCD and plasma models. While newer projections are thinner than the older ones, this style is definitely not wall-mountable.
When choosing an HDTV, make sure it has the right type of inputs. If you’re planning on wall-mounting the unit, check for easy access to all ports from the front or side of the TV. If you move a gaming system from room to room, ports on the front of the TV will be especially convenient.
At a minimum, look for an HDTV that can accept the following connections: two HDMIs, three component cables, two S-Videos, one coaxial, and one computer monitor connection.
3. The Resolution
The resolution can make or break a HDTV. These funny-looking numbers tell the shopper how many pixels per square inch are included on the screen. Higher numbers generally mean higher prices and a better picture quality.
For smaller HDTVs, 720p is probably good enough, but larger HDTVs won’t look their best at less than 1080p. If you’re planning on adding a Blu-Ray player to your entertainment center, 1080p is a strict requirement.
4. The Refresh Rate
To prevent stuttering, pixilated images, don’t skimp on the refresh rate. As HD technology evolves, this feature continues to improve. To understand the refresh rate, it’s similar to putting a faster CPU in your personal computer. While a better chip won’t solve all your problems, it sure helps smooth things out.
While these are the most important features to consider, they don’t give the entire HD picture. Read the consumer reviews, examine each model carefully in the store, and think carefully before making this expensive decision. Are you planning on buying an HDTV this year? Post some comments.