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Flat Screens are the most expensive type of big screen TV, but they make up for it in quality and overall coolness. Essentially, the picture you view on a flat screen is produced by thousands of tiny dots, or pixels – similar to the type of picture offered by traditional tube televisions (CRT’s). The difference, of course, between flat screens and the old CRT’s is that they are extremely thin and light by comparison. These big screens are widely available in sizes up to about 60 inches diagonal.
COMPARISON OF FLAT SCREEN TV TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS
There are two types of Flat Screen TV. Nearly all new Flat Screen TV’s are sold in the 16:9 widescreen format and all are HDTV ready by design.
LCD Flat Screen
The oldest and most popular of the flat screen and digital technologies. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) TV’s use tiny color changing pixels and backlighting to create the picture.
The result is a large crisp picture in a light weight set that is flat enough to be hung on a wall. LCD TV’s are immune to burn-in, but have a harder time displaying black and grays than Plasma TV’s resulting in lower contrast ratios. The life expectancy of an LCD TV is said to be between 30,000 and 60,000 hours of use.
Since these technologies are fairly new, practical life expectancy remains to be seen. Prices range from $1500 to $10000.
Plasma Flat Screen
Plasma flat screens use thousands of tiny fluorescent lights to create a digital image on the screen. The result a large crisp picture in a light weight set that is flat enough to be hung on a wall. Plasma TV’s produce a superior picture compared to the big screen LCD’s, but are subject to the burn-in effect – faint ghost images that can permanently appear on the screen over time.
Video game consoles are the biggest burn-in culprits, but any static image can cause burn-in over time. Plasma screens also run hotter than LCD’s and require cooling fans.
Like LCD’s, the life expectancy of a Plasma TV is said to be between 30,000 and 60,000 hours of use. Prices range from $1500 to $10000.
Knowing what technologies are available helps us get an idea of what to expect from a big screen, but there are other considerations.
It would seem that bigger is better, especially when viewing the wall of televisions at some of the large electronic’s stores, but this is not the case.
Consider the size of the room that your big screen will live in and how far away from the big screen you will sit. A 60″ big screen, for example, would be completely overwhelming in a smaller living room from 10 feet away.Style and Color.
This is largely personal preference. Many of the newer models are black which may be more likely to match your decor than a silver or gray model. Stands or wall mounts are also an important element of style. You’ll have to live with your big screen set up.
Real World Use
Do you need a flat screen? If money is an object and space is not, you may want to consider a rear projection big screen. Although the smaller sizes of flat screen are relatively similar in price to the rear projection models, larger sizes are pricey and often more than double the price of a similarly sized rear projection TV.
GETTING YOUR BIG SCREEN HOME
A few things you might not have thought of.
While not necessarily heavy, your big screen may not fit in your car. Be sure to inquire about delivery options and costs.
Most of these big screens require a TV stand or a wall mount, but these are rarely included in the price. Be sure that the stand suits your needs and can accommodate all of the equipment you will be attaching to the flat screen. Many home theater receivers, for example will not fit in the smaller stands. If wall mounting make sure that you can accommodate the attached equipment without having unattractive cables running up and down your walls. Some in-wall wiring may be required in order to achieve an uncluttered look.
If you’re buying your first HDTV you will likely need specialized cables to accommodate the higher quality video connections to your new big screen. These will not be included with your new big screen. Be sure to ask about what you’ll need to hook up your equipment.
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With all this new technology, it may be a good idea to maximize your warranty coverage. Some credit cards will automatically double the length of any factory warranty for any item purchased using that credit card. A separate extended warranty might also be useful.