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Your guide to the ultimate TV

What different TVs are there?

These days, with advances in technology, there’s not a great deal of difference between LCD, Plasma and LED TV screens. All offer a great quality picture, but there are some subtle variations. Here’s the low-down from our experts on the pros and cons for each type.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

Shining strip backlights shine evenly through a panel of tiny liquid crystal cells. These cells either block or let light through dependent on the picture they need to produce.

LCDs give great, high quality images in a large and varied range of screen sizes to suit different locations in your home. They are also cheaper to run than plasmas.

However, on larger screens, black and dark colours can look washed out, as the backlight is never fully switched off.

LED (Light Emitting Diode)

A suped-up version of an LCD, LED technology uses hundreds of individual LED lights to light up the screen, instead of the strips of lights used in LCDs. In some LED TVs, these lights can be dimmed or switched off in different parts of the screen (known as localised dimming) to provide darker blacks in your picture.

Edge-lit LEDs cannot offer this localised dimming as the LED lights are located around the edge of the screen, instead of behind it.

LED TVs give you the slimmest profile. Mega thin and light, some edge-lit models are only 9mm in depth, ideal if you want your TV to sit flush against the wall.

They are also the most energy efficient of all the TVs as less energy is needed for the individual LED lights.

As with the LCD TVs, even the local dimming or edge-lit versions can still fail to provide a truly black colour across the whole screen.

Plasma

These use thousands of tiny gas chambers that let off light when energised to produce the picture.

Plasmas are ideal for watching sports and movies, as they have less judder on fast-moving images for optimum cinematic quality. With no backlights, they offer less fading on deep colours and truly black blacks.

Due to the multiple gas chambers, plasmas are generally a bit weightier and so are not as easy to wall mount at home. For most living rooms, a TV stand provides a more flexible alternative.

Bear in mind the highly-reflective glass screen if you plan to site your TV near light sources.

Should I go for the biggest screen size?

Most people believe that bigger is better when it comes to TV screens, but our experts agree there is an optimum screen size, according to the size of your room and your viewing distance from the television.

Don’t forget to think about where you put your sofa in relation to your TV. If it’s not directly opposite, then take a quick look at your viewing angle.

A viewing angle of 180 degrees means you’ll be able to sit exactly at the end of your TV and still see the picture. In most cases, the most you’ll need is 178 degrees.

Plasma screens give you the widest viewing angle and are ideal for wall-mounting, so you can be more flexible about where you site them.

How do I get the best picture?

High Definition viewing: HD Ready and 1080p Full HD

The difference between High Definition and standard definition is impressive – up to four times the quality – with a minimum of 720 vertical lines (720p), instead of the 576 that come as standard. These are progressively scanned so the whole picture is loaded at once, rather than line-by-line. This gives a still image with incredible detail and intensity, and also a sharper image on the move too.

All TVs are now HD Ready, as long as they are connected to a HD source.

Using the best of 720p and 1080i, the standard viewing and High Definition broadcast technologies, 1080p or Full HD uses 1080 progressively scanned lines to create the picture. This results in picture clarity as you’ve never seen it before. With true to life colour and detail that will make you feel like you are there, plus widescreen broadcasting, you experience a breathtaking home cinema experience.

You can watch Full HD 1080p in the comfort of your own home, with a Blu-ray player or Blu-ray recorder.

3D

The newest technology on the block, and with huge media attention, 3D technology is taking off.

3D TV technology offers a third dimension to really make you feel like you’re in the heart of the action, so it’s great for sports, movies and nature documentaries.

With our selection of Active 3D TVs you and the whole family can now enjoy everything 3D has to offer. If you don’t want to invest in LCD Shutter Glasses that synchronise with the refresh rate of your TV, why not look for 3D TVs that can be converted to standard viewing too, and get the best of both worlds.

Refresh Rate

For the best performance look out for 100Hz or 200Hz frame refresh rates. The rate on a standard HD Ready LCD TV is 50Hz so the picture is refreshed at 50 times a second. 100Hz processes this at double the speed to reduce screen flicker.

At four times the rate of a standard HD Ready LCD TV, 200Hz offers an even more super smooth motion with minimised blurring. Some manufacturers now offer 400Hz and 600Hz options too.

Contrast Ratio

A high contrast ratio is another feature to watch out for. This measures the blackest black compared to the whitest white. Generally speaking, the higher the ratio, the better the picture (mega = 1000:1).

Brightness

If your TV is going to be sited in a very bright room, you may want to consider its brightness ratio. This gives an indication of how powerful the screen is, and the higher the number the better. It’s worth noting that LCD TVs are also generally considered to be the better option for a sunny room.

Once you know what you’re looking for, come and see our range of working TVs for yourself at your local Comet store. We can help you find the style and picture you like best for your budget.

Here’s some more guides you might like:


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