Ten years ago the only thing you needed to know about your television was whether it was black/white or in color. Now, with the emergency of HDTV 720p , 1080p and 3D there is a lot more to consider. But, how much of this is important and how much of it is marketing? We take a closer look at the science that makes up HDTV to help you decide.
The eye of the beholder
As many of us know, the human eye is limited in what spectrum of light it can see. Having
a television that can produce infrared light is not very useful, since we can't see it. By the same token, having a television that produces images too fine to distinguish is also not very beneficial. Due to the limitations of the conical receptor cells in the retina, the human eye is only capable of distinguishing two points that are .07 of an inch apart at a maximum distance of 20 feet. Any farther than 20 feet, and the two points blur into each other and the eye can no longer see them as two separate items. For example, if we placed two tennis balls on the ground .07 inches apart and stood 20 feet away, a normal person will be able to clearly see that there are two tennis balls. Any farther and the balls would blend into each other making it difficult to distinguish them apart. This is commonly referred to as having 20/20 vision.
The problem is that most people set up televisions in their living rooms at a distance that negates HD quality. To get the full 10809 HD effect of a 32 inch television, a viewer would have to be sitting 4 feet away from the TV - not a very practical distance in a living room. A 1080p HDTV would, at a distance of 10 feet, have to be sixty inches wide in order for people to be able to distinguish the true high definition image. Any farther than this, and the premium paid for the higher pixel count is lost. At that point, one might as well purchase a less expensive 720p television.
LED, LCD, or Plasma?
With so many choices in technology, it can be difficult to know the difference. LCD screens have lately been the fashion because they are thinner, lighter, use less energy and don't have the burn-in issues of plasma pannels. However, they are not without their faults. LCDs have motion blur problems that manufacturers have developed special firmware to overcome. The firmware uses complex algorithms to predict and compensate for rapid movement within a scene. Unfortunately, this means that the image viewed on the screen is extremely manipulated causing strange effects to occur. One common side effect is that the image can look like a cheap soap opera. This occurs when the television circuitry has to upgrade a film shot at 24 frames a second into 120 or 240 frames a second. The TV does this by analysing the first frame and then the second frame and filling in the gaps between them. This technology has essentially eliminated the motion blur problems of older LCD screens, but it causes the motion to appear unnaturally smooth and disconcerting.
LED televisions are really just LCD TV's that use LED's as back light instead of florescent tubing. LEDs have reduced energy consumption, are lighter and are extraordinarily thin. Additionally, LED back lighting can be used to dim selective parts of the screen making the black's of an image even darker and overcoming the grayish shadowing common with LCDs. Currently, only the newer televisions use LEDs, and they are quite expensive.
Plasma televisions are the oldest of the flat screen technologies. They lost some of their prestige to the lighter, sexier LED/LCD TV's. Plasma's remain the technology of choice for home theater aficionado's and sports fans because of their ability to produce deep rich colors and shadows. Additionally, pixels in plasma screens switch extremely fast eliminating any motion blur without the need of firmware manipulation. This creates a crisp, clean motion during sporting events and action movies. Plasmas can also be viewed from a wider angle without any discoloration of their images. Finally, plasmas are two thirds as expensive as LCDs giving them a strong value component. Their major weakness has been weight, a bulkier size and a propensity to have image burn-in when static graphics are displayed for long periods of time (making them less-than-perfect for video gamers).
3D or not 3D, that is the question.
The premium that 3D televisions once commanded has vanished as the technology has
become more ubiquitous. They are now worth purchasing because the technology used to maximize 3D effects makes even 2D movies look better. Also, now that consumers no longer need to pay extra for 3D capability, it's become a very reasonable feature to have. With the emergency of aftermarket 3D glasses providers such as TekSpree.com
and xPand, users no longer have to pay more for the glasses than for their TV sets.
In conclusion, it's important not to spend a lot of money on features you can't use. If you are looking for a television for your family room, and don't want to splurge for a mega-60-incher, then you should consider a less expensive 720p 50" plasma 3D Television. This gives you a HD quality image with the option to watch 3D movies, or high quality 120fps 2D movies at a very reasonable price.
What do you think? Let us know below!