LCD TV Buying Guide
Table of contents
An LCD TV is a flat-screen color TV featuring extremely flexible placement and mounting capabilities thanks to the LCD TV’s fantastically slim profile. With bright, precise colors produced by a flat panel of "liquid" crystals, rather than a cathode ray tube which shows a picture made from electrons shot at phosphors on a screen, LCD TVs are lighter, take less room, are cooler and use less power than CRTs. Many LCD TVs feature High Definition picture resolutions and are ready for the upcoming Digital TV standards. They are rapidly becoming the television of choice for the 21st century.
Space-saving Ultra-Slim Profile
What really sets the LCD TV apart from the standard tube TV is its thickness, or more specifically, its lack of it. The ultra-slim profile of the LCD TV means that despite the screen sizes exceeding 30 inches, it's never more than a few inches thick. This allows it to be hung from a wall or even the ceiling, both of which are fashionable installation methods. This opens up more space in your living or bed room for other electronics, furnishings or toys.
Absolute flat screen
With the LCD TV's perfectly flat screen, picture distortions owing to screen curvature are a thing of the past.
Ready for DTV
DTV (Digital TV) is poised to gradually replace standard analog TV. The LCD TV can support DTV signals with a built-in or external digital tuner. Most LCD TVs can support at least EDTV (Enhanced Definition TV, 480p), which provides superior picture quality to regular analog TV.
The majority of new LCD TVs will easily display an HDTV picture as they are designed to be HDTV compatible or HDTV ready by featuring a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and very high native resolutions. Please refer to the Screen Resolution section below for more details.
LCD TVs are offered in a very wide range of sizes. Newegg.com, for example, offers LCD TVs in sizes ranging from 9 to 50 inches. Larger screens (30-inches or more) generally provide more immersive, theatre-like viewing experiences, and are great for larger rooms such as the living room where your family or guests can watch a movie or be entertained together. Smaller sizes are more suited for placement in smaller rooms such as the bedroom. Please note that LCD TV pricing is to a certain degree directly influenced by screen size.
The relationship between Screen Size and Viewing Distance
Although many of us hope to purchase the largest TV we can afford, this isn’t necessarily recommended. The proper size TV to purchase should be a function of the distance you sit from the TV screen. For example, 1 to 3 feet between you and a 40-inch LCD TV will most likely feel very uncomfortable, not to mention confusing. A distance of 5 to10 feet from the same 40-inch LCD TV will provide a much more comfortable viewing experience and still maintain the immersive qualities of the large screen.
These are only recommendations - please find a viewing distance that best suits your own preferences.
The response time measurement is the speed at which an LCD TV’s pixels (the smallest unit of display on the LCD TV) are able to change from displaying full black to full white and back again. Response time is measured in ms (milliseconds). The quicker an LCD TV’s response time, the less likelihood there is for ghosting or streaking (after images) appearing when displaying fast paced images (e.g. games or movies).
With tube TVs it wasn’t necessary to know much about resolution, which is the term used for image detail. Tube TVs were compliant with the existing NTSC, PAL and SECAM TV formats and that was all we needed to know. With HDTV, the resolution of a TV screen is extremely important because it determines whether or not a TV is capable of supporting HDTV resolution. The high resolution of an HDTV picture is what makes it so impressive.
2. 1080p is not a TV broadcast standard yet
The aspect ratio is the width to height proportion of a TV screen. 4:3 is the aspect ratio for standard televisions. This corresponds to 3 inches of height for every 4 inches of screen width. HDTV and a portion of DVD movies are presented in 16:9 aspect ratio. LCD TVs are offered in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, as well as 5:4. The 16:9 aspect ratio is also referred to as the widescreen format, which is perfect for HDTV display.
Brightness is defined as the emitted luminous power over a specified area, often measured in cd/m2 (candela per square meter) or nits (they are equal). Brightness is an important aspect of TV performance and a brighter screen is better as it helps to make the TV’s picture more viewable from a distance and under intense lighting conditions.
In scientific terms, contrast is the ratio between the light intensity of the brightest and the darkest points in an image. What it does in practice is to allow a screen to show both light and dark details as clearly as possible. A higher contrast performance often allows darker details to show better and therefore improves picture quality.
The viewing angle refers to the maximum horizontal and vertical viewing angles from which an LCD TV screen can be viewed at acceptable image quality. A wide viewing angle has various benefits, such as the ability to allow a group of people to view the screen at the same time. Currently, most LCD TVs are capable of at least 160 degrees, both horizontally and vertically, and some are able to exceed 170 degrees (H / V), Viewing angles that are as close to 180 degrees as possible are always preferable.
Most LCD TVs offer several types of input connector allowing signal sources such as a TV antenna, cable TV line, and DVD player, or gaming console to connect and provide a picture. If, for example, you want to output your PC’s picture to your LCD TV, you will need your LCD TV to come equipped with either a DVI or D-Sub port. For DVD players you can work with composite connectors, but component connectors are recommended for better image quality.
For in-depth information, please see our LCD TV Connector Guide.
The future of TV is definitely in High Definition. At the current time, only a portion of LCD TVs sold are HDTV-ready or HDTV compatible. This means that they are able to display HDTV resolution images, but do not feature an HDTV tuner - this requires owners to purchase an external HDTV tuner separately in order to provide the TV with an HDTV picture signal.
LCD TVs are generally equipped with built-in speakers and are sometimes able to provide surround sound audio. This can be an attractive option for the budget user, but users interested in building a complete home theater system may want to look into a separate speaker system.
Average Home User
The average home user may simply be looking for a replacement for an older analog TV. Moderate screen sizes with satisfying image quality and preferably HDTV compatibility are among the things home users can look for. LCD TV sets that fall into the range of specifications in the table below may be suitable choices:
DVD movies look amazing on high-resolution LCD TVs which is why movie enthusiasts absolutely love to watch their movies on LCD screens. In addition to displaying HDTV programming, movie buffs also want to be able to connect to future HDTV movie players, such as HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc players.
Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 and the upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 both support HDTV output. To enjoy the picture quality offered by these next-gen consoles, a gamer’s television set needs to provide high native resolutions and the proper input connectors. In addition, lower response times are important as they help to reduce ghosting or streaking during gameplay, especially during racing, or when displaying fast-paced images.
LCD TVs are great choices for HTPC (Home Theater PC) users who use their computer primarily for movies and games. As a result, the recommended features and specs are similar to those for movie buffs and gamers. Of course, the LCD TV should provide standard computer connectors, namely the DVI and D-Sub (VGA) ports.
Office users typically use TVs for video conferencing, presentations or training videos. A relatively large screen size and a wide viewing angle are beneficial for a sizeable audience, while computer connectors will allow it to receive picture signals from computers as well.
Small Room/ On a Budget
A small TV in the kitchen or reading room can be pleasant additions to the house. What we are looking for are very thin profiles that allow flexible positioning that includes wall hanging. As smaller sized LCD TVs often come at less cost, the recommendations made here may also be considered by those who are currently on a limited budget.