So you want a flat screen TV?

Everything you wanted to know about Flat Screen TVs explained…We take the pain out of your purchase…

Are you one of those people that doesn’t know a coaxial cable from a digital link… Is 1080p and 1080i just a bunch of letters and numbers to you? Are you scratching your head even as we speak? You’re not alone my friend.

In this increasingly fast paced world, technology is changing at a phenomenal rate – so when it comes time to upgrade your home entertainment system or even simply purchase a new TV you may be feeling a little perplexed.

Don’t worry Shackers, that’s where we come in. CyberShack have decided to take all the guess work out of your shopping experience and help you find your way through the quagmire of technical terms… Who knows we may even have you speaking the jargon quicker than you can say digital TV.

This week we’re taking a look at flat screen TVs.

Flat Screen TV
Gone are the days of curved screens and bubble design. Today’s TVs are all about sleek flat design. Even your most basic flat screen TV has a space age look that would be unthinkable a decade ago.
Whilst the screen displays have gotten larger, the TVs themselves have grown thinner in design, thanks to the change in the TV tube from the curved of those old bubble shaped modules to the new flat tubes.

Flat screen TV comes in three types – Flat, Super Flat and True Flat. If you’re an aficionado on a budget then you will want to go for a True Flat screen as True Flat TVs give a much wider viewing angle without distortion thus making for a better viewing images.Whilst nowhere near as shmick as their LCD and Plasma counterparts, they still provide a quality viewing experience for those of you that aren’t cashed up.

LCD versus Plasma
Plasma screens are perfectly flat – the zero curvature factor of the screen means they provide an optimal image for viewing without any distortion and eliminate glare. The most common Plasma screens feature rear projection allowing viewing from just about any angle.

Liquid Crystal Display TVs commonly known as LCDs work on a very different principle to Plasma Screens – with the technology working on the principle of blocking light instead of emitting it. In layman’s terms the LCD consists of two glass plates with liquid crystal sandwiched between them, removing the need for previously bulky picture tubes. Viewing angles for these TVs should be above 160 degrees.

When you’re talking big screen TVs – and lets face it most Plasmas and LCDs are – then you need to also think about screen resolution. The higher the screen resolution, the more detail in the image display. A display is considered high definition if it is wide screen and has a total pixel count approaching 1 million. So 1280×720, 1366×768, 1024×1024 could all be considered high definition displays. However when people refer to True HD – they mean a pixel count of 1920×1080 (also called 1080p).

Contrast Ratio is also an important consideration. Contrast Ratio meaures the amount of contrast that a TV displays. The better the contrast ratio the more subtle your TV viewing experience as you can experience true colours. Just be careful when comparing models. TV manufactures measure contrast in a couple of ways. Some use True Contrast Ratio (measuring the contrast between the brightest and darkest image that a TV can show simultaneously) or Dynamic Contrast Ratio which measures the display once for brightness and once for dark – the DCR is often four to five times higher than the TCR. So be aware when comparing models.

Screen brightness is also a factor – the brighter the image the better the output… Screen brightness is usually measured in candelas per square metre. Look for LCDs or Plasmas with screen brightness over 400cm2.

One final thing to consider if purchasing an LCD screen is the screen response. The response time of a screen measures how long it takes for the screen to move from black to white to black again. Response time is measured in milliseconds. The lower the number the better – as a fast response time may result in image ghosting when playing video games or action films. Look for a response time below 6msc if possible. It’s worth noting that Plasma TVs don’t have this problem.

While we’re on the subject of screen response, you should also check out the TVs Hertz rate. Currently LCDs are available in anything from a 100HZ to 120 Hz frame rate(if you’re in the US). Using a complicated mathamatical algorithm the LCD TV doubles the frame rate (50/60 frames per second) with the aim of delivering the viewer with a smoother image – particularly useful when watching sports or action films.

Screen size
So you’ve made your decision between LCD and Plasma; now, just how big a screen are you going to buy? Whilst really big screens are all the rage – having a large TV really requires a large living room.
You may be surprised by the recommended viewing range: Small TVs up to 20inches are best viewed at a distance of four to six feet (120-180cm). Medium sized screens for 21-25 inches are best watched from a distance of six to eight feet (180-240cm). Whilst anything above 26 inches requires you to be at least 8 feet from the screen for optimal viewing. So if you have a really small lounge room, forget about one of those 52 inch sets… It would be like you were sitting inside of the TV.

By Cec Busby

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