Carolyn Almennigen | almennigen

How to select the perfect television

Sep 24th 2010 at 11:45 AM

They sure look nice at the store, but you can only take one of them home, so here are some tips to select the best one.

If you can, take a movie DVD or Blu-ray disc with you, and a flashlight. The lights at the store are optimized for nice tv, but a flashlight will show you whether you’ll have trouble seeing things in bright light.

Wander through the store and look at all of them from the same distance. Find the best for a clear picture, bright colors, and viewing angle. Is the black really black or kinda gray? For an unbiased opinion, put your movie DVD in a player which is hopefully connected to all of them. Look at a dim scene and see which tv is easier to see what’s going on. Look at a scene with a lot of detail to check out the resolution. Look at a fast moving or fight scene to check out shakiness or blurring.

Now to understand the specs: Resolution determines how many horizontal lines of picture you get on the screen at any one time. 1080 lines (tvl) is high-definition. The p means progressive. Progressive tvs send the lines of picture out in order. I means interlaced. Interlaced tvs send out the odd-numbered lines, then the even-numbered lines, then the odds again, etc. It was a way for slower tvs to keep up with motion, but with digital tv, it isn’t needed anymore. 490 lines is regular tv. 760 lines is an attempt to bridge the gap between regular and high-def, but it doesn’t, really.

Refresh rate: 60Hz is regular, the rate of alternating current. Double that to 120Hz and fast-moving things don’t jerk as much. But, doubling the rate means double the work for the poor tv, so it’ll cost more. If you watch a lot of sports, it’s worth it. 240Hz is even faster, and more expensive. If you’re paying for super sports channels, I’d recommend this. Otherwise, 120 is fine.

Contrast ratio: The higher the number, the darker the objects you’ll still be able to see. If you like dark movies, you’ll want to pay attention to this.

To all this, add price, physical size, brand name reputation. Remember, shopping is fun!

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