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We have created a list of the most popular questions we hear our Paul's TV customers ask us and answered them using our over 47 years of TV expertise. We also offer a list of definitions which give a clear explanation on what each TV specification means. If you have a question that is not addressed below, please contact us.
What is Your Question About?
Understanding TV Technology
LCD and LED are virtually the same type of panel, meaning that the image is produced in the same way. LCDs are the most common type of panel, used in everything from cell phones and laptops to monitors and TVs. LCDs have replaced cathode ray tube (CRT) displays. Because LCD panels produce no light of their own, they must be back lit, which is where the defining line between LCDs and LEDs is. LCDs use fluorescent lighting and LEDs use “light emitting diodes” which allow LEDs to have brighter, more vibrant colors, a thinner and lighter build, and to be more energy efficient.
Plasmas create an image in a completely different way. The panel of a plasma TV is formed of cells filled with gas. The gas is electrically charged by electrodes to produce a portion of the picture. Plasma screens are primarily made of two sheets of glass that contain the components to produce a picture; this tends to make plasma heavier and more reflective. However, a plasma display panel (PDP) is capable of achieving deeper, richer, which results in better detail and a more natural image.
DLP (Digital Light Processing) TVs are one of the leading technologies used in digital cinema projection. In DLPs, the image is created by microscopic mirrors laid out in a template on a semiconductor chip. Each mirror is equal to one or more pixels in the projected image. DLPs tend to be heavier and bulkier than LEDs and PDPs of a comparable screen size. This is because DLPs are essentially rear projectors. Laser DLPs are a more efficient way or producing an image. This technology removes the color wheel and three different colored lasers illuminate the digital micro-mirror device, creating a richer, more vibrant color.
LCD and LED TVs function in the same manner, the only difference is the type of backlighting, CCFL (fluorescent) vs. LED (light emitting diodes). The diodes in LEDs are smaller and brighter, gives the set a lighter weight and brighter picture. Every LCD is comprised of a varying amount of pixels and each pixel contains 3 sub-pixels of red, green, and blue. The pixels are made of liquid crystal, which acts as a light valve, allowing light to filter through as required by data translated by the image processors. LCD’s current refresh rate ranges from 60-240 Hz based on an industry standard, they are limited depending on density of the crystal and how fast it can switch to allow or block the passage of light.
Plasma TVs utilize small cells containing electrically-charged, ionized gases to collectively form a visual image. A plasma TV typically has millions of tiny cells compartmentally spaced between two panels of glass. Each pixel is made of 3 cells (sub-pixels) each with their own color (red, green, and blue) phosphorous-dyed walls, that when charged causes a reaction to the phosphorous painted cell walls. The colors blend together to create the overall color of the pixel. The control system can increase of decrease the intensity of each sub-pixel color to create billions of red, green and blue color combinations. Plasma’s extreme color accuracy can be credited to using the same phosphors as CRTs.
Digital Light Processing (DLP) TVs are essentially rear projectors. The longest-standing DLP is the single-chip projector. Single-chip DLPs utilize a single white lamp with a color wheel between it and a DLP chip or individual light sources like lasers. The color wheel is divided into multiple sectors: primary colors, red, green, and blue; and secondary colors, cyan, magenta, yellow, and sometimes white; yielding a broader spectrum of possible color combinations. The DLP chip is synchronized with the rotating motion of the color wheel so that the color component is displayed on the micro- mirror device when its respective color is in front of the lamp. The colors are displayed sequentially at such a high rate (up to 10x the frame rate) that you see a combined “full color” image. Laser DLPs eliminate the use of a color wheel by using three or more separate color lasers to illuminate the micro-mirror device, producing a richer, more vibrant color.
The native resolution of a HDTV determines how much detail your picture will have on screen. A television with a native resolution of 720p has a pixel count of 1280 x 720; that is 921,600 individual pixels. A 720p resolution supports up to ‘1280’ pixels wide by ‘720’ pixels tall. A television with a native resolution of 1080p has a pixel count of 1920 x 1080; that is 2,073,600 individual pixels. A 1080p resolution supports up to ‘1920’ pixels wide by ‘1080’ pixels tall. The ‘P’ and the ‘I’ trailing behind the resolution indicate the television’s scan modes; they refer to Progressive scan and Interlaced. Many televisions today are progressive scan. Progressive scan offers the best picture quality because every line of resolution is refreshed and responds at the same time, offering a smoother, crisper picture. Interlaced refreshes every other line in a picture, which may not be the best quality, but you’re used to it if you watch broadcasting from a cable or satellite provider; many of them only offer 1080i broadcasting.
Which resolution is better comes down to uses and size of display. For smaller televisions, 720p is a good resolution if you’re just looking for a set to stream music and watch basic TV shows. It will also save you a little money. If you’re interested in watching Blu-rays, gaming, or just want the overall best picture quality, you want to go with a 1080p HDTV. 1080p is highly recommended for any screen over 47”. The difference between the two sizes is comparable to taking an image with a 2 Megapixel camera and with an 8 Megapixel camera. A Megapixel (MP or MPx) is equal to one million pixels. An 8 MP camera will yield a picture that uses 8 million pixels to produce the image, whereas a 2 MP camera will create the image with 2 million pixels. There is significantly more pixels, 4 times to be exact, in the 8 MP image; yielding more detail and a sharper image, especially by time it’s stretched to fit a bigger screen. We say 1080p all the way.
There are two ways in which an LED panel is illuminated; edge-lit and full array. Both of them dictate how uniform your color will be on screen. Edge-lit LED panels are the most common due to the minimal amount of LEDs throughout the screen, it keeps the cost down. Edge-lit panels typically have quadrants of LEDs, many of which also include mirrors to redirect light towards the center of the screen. The LEDs in an edge-lit panel are going to be throughout the actual edges of the panel, on the top and bottom, or on each side. No matter where the LEDs are located, some sections of the screen will be brighter than others. Many manufacturers compensate this flaw with built-in dimming technology to “even out” the color and the contrast. Full array panels have an LED backlight throughout the entire panel, because of this, the color and contrast is much more even than their edge-lit counterparts. Due to the amount of LEDs, full array panels cost a little more, but offer a noticeably better picture quality. Some manufacturers also include dimming technology to full array panels to offer more detail, richer colors, and deeper black levels. On a consistent basis, full array panels offer the best picture quality over any comparable edge-lit.
All of the TVs we offer are Energy Star Rated. Through the years, the power consumption and energy efficiency of flat panels has drastically improved. As technology advances, efficiency increases as well. Power is the rate at which energy is consumed expressed in watts or kilowatts. Energy is equal to power consumed, expressed in watt-hours or kilowatt-hours (kWh). Energy Star measures average yearly cost based on 11 cents per kWh at 5 hours use per day (over 365 days). With that said, Laser DLPs tend to have the lowest average yearly cost for their screen sizes. 75” Laser has the lowest average yearly cost of other screens in the same size range, 69.5” or greater. However, LEDs are the most energy efficient, especially if they have some sort of dimming technology built into the television. Dimming technology not only helps the picture, it drastically reduces yearly cost and power consumption by 10-15%. The Laser DLP only loses to panels with built -in dimming technology.
The latest update to date is the largest consumer LED HDTV, the Sharp 90” LC90LE745U. Coming later this year, 2013, you can expect to see OLED TV. For the latest information feel free to check out our blog.
Understanding 3D Technology
3D has existed in some form since 1915. 3D or 3-D, three-dimensional, is a format that enhances the illusion of depth. Standard 2D only consist of width and height, the additional depth is what gives the picture the “jumping out” effect you come to know with 3D broadcasting. 3D has made a leap from the movie theaters to your home. In order to see depth from a 3D TV, each eye has to have a slightly different image. When you open and close one eye at a time, the image you see with your right eye is slightly different the one you saw with your left eye. 3D technology uses glasses to create a similar effect. This “tricks” your brain into seeing “depth.”
No, you can’t use just any brand or pair of 3D glasses. You need glasses that are made specifically for your television. There are two types of 3D glasses, Active and Passive. Some manufacturers use one type, while other manufacturers might incorporate both type of glasses amongst their product lines.
Passive 3D glasses are the lightweight glasses you get when you go to the movie theater to watch a 3D movie. Movie theaters use these glasses because they are relatively inexpensive. The passive 3D glasses have polarized lens that block out certain lines of resolution; for instance the left eye is only capable of viewing the odd lines, and the right eye picks up the even lines. Without the glasses, however, the TV looks normal. Unlike Active glasses, that flicker, passive typically offers brighter picture than active 3D, but the resolution is not as good (because you’re losing lines of resolution to each eye).
Active 3D glasses are also known as shutter glasses, they open and close at a high rate to give the illusion of 3D. There are no lines of resolution filtered, unlike passive, so you receive a true HD 3D picture. However, since the lenses shutter the picture is not as bright because of the light blocked by the shuttering. Active lenses are generally synced to the television via Bluetooth, although some manufacturers still use infrared. The 3D processors in the TV tell the glasses when they should shutter.
Absolutely not! The capability of a TV to receive and broadcast a proper 3D signal is just an additional feature. A 3D TV offers an arguably better picture quality than a comparable 2D TV. 3D TVs offer a better picture quality because the processor has to be stronger to handle the additional workload. The picture of 3D TVs tend to be smoother, crisper, and show motion with more detail.
There are quite a few ways to view some form of 3D at home. 3D content is virtually unlimited; if your 3D TV can show it in 2D, you can see it in 3D. About 90% of the 3D TVs on the market today are currently capable of a 2D to 3D conversion, i.e., the ability to add additional depth to anything on screen. You also have streaming, on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, as well as many cable and satellite providers that stream 3D content. The final (and best quality) way to view 3D content is with a 3D Blu-ray. With this method, you will need a 3D Blu-ray player to send a 3D signal. If you’re interested in the current and upcoming 3D Blu-ray releases, check out our blog post.
Choosing the Right TV and Accessories
The question is relative your environment, as well as the primary uses of the television. All types of television, LEDs, LCDs, Plasmas, etc., have advantages and disadvantages. Through the years, technology advancements have allowed manufacturers to address the disadvantages and advance on them.
If you’re looking for a massive TV at a relatively inexpensive cost, there is no substitute for the DLP television. DLPs typically have a 120Hz refresh rate and a 1080p resolution. The good thing about DLPs is when compared to a comparable size and quality plasma or LCD/LED, the DLP will be less expensive; albeit with higher costs associated with energy consumption (only by a few bucks a year). The downfall to DLPs is their massive size; DLP TVs are not mountable due to the extended back that houses the projector inside the TV.
Hands down, the best picture quality has to go to plasma displays. They offer more natural colors, the best black levels of all panels, and the smoothest picture reproduction. Plasma displays are great for all occasions; their biggest downside is the reflectivity of the glass screen that’s common amongst all plasmas. Manufacturers now add an anti-glare coating to the screens to help alleviate the reflection of light, some of them actually use coatings that take advantage of the light to enhance the picture quality. With plasma displays advent, there was an issue with image burn-in, or image retention; that has been addressed with screensavers and pixel shifting. Plasma displays are especially great for fast action scenes, e.g., sports, games, etc; not to mention, they are often cheaper per inch when compared with LEDs.
The latest in panel technology is the LED panel. LEDs are LCD panels that use Light Emitting Diodes (LED) as opposed to the CCFL fluorescent backlight. LED TVs also make great “all-around” televisions, with faster scenes requiring at least 120Hz refresh rate. LED’s biggest downfall is, well, their LEDs. They’re very bright, which can make dark colors look dingy and washed out. To compensate the brightness of the LEDs, manufacturers have built-in dimming technology that either dims or turns off the LED backlights to achieve deeper blacks. The dimming also helps with common issues found amongst many LEDs like ghosting, haloing, and blooming.
Buy the biggest TV you can afford! That’s a joke! The size of the TV you purchase will vary based on one thing, viewing distance. So why shouldn’t you get the biggest TV you can afford? Pixel size! Remember, a TV that is capable of producing a 1080p picture has roughly 2 million pixels. As the screen gets bigger, so do the pixels; they’ll eventually be big enough for you to see them at your “normal” viewing distance. Start by measuring the area you have to give your HDTV; you want to be anywhere from 1.5 to 3 times the screen size in inches for the best viewing experience. For a 60” screen, the recommended viewing distance is 7.5 – 15ft; Ex. 60 x 1.5 = 90 / 60 x 3 = 180. (Screen size x 1.5=Viewing distance in inches). If you’re sitting over 10ft away, feel free to go as big as you like!
Yes, any HDMI cable will work for your HDTV. The actual question is, will it work well with your HDTV? Different TVs have different video capabilities, HDMI cables have different capabilities as well. Some HDMI cables allow you to carry a 3D signal, some allow for a higher refresh rate (Hz) to be carried, many allow for digital surround processing (DSP). The speed that any HDMI is capable of carrying will play a huge role in your picture quality. If you have a 240Hz refresh rate TV, then a cable that is only good to carry 120Hz will reduce the picture quality; leaving you with a jumpy picture. It’s like diverting all the traffic from a 5-lane highway to a 1-lane back street. The rate of transfer also plays an important role, data transfer of HDMI cables can range from 10.2 Gbps to more than 15.8 Gbps. The higher the speed, the more data can be transferred with lossless quality. For recommendations on the best cable for your HDTV, call Paul’s TV at 888.669.1030 and a representative will be happy to assist you.
With the exception of DLP and Laser TVs, all TVs we offer have the capability to be mounted to a wall. To mount a TV to the wall, you will need to purchase a wall mount. But with so many mounts available, which do you choose? Thankfully, just about every TV has standardized mounting patterns known as VESA; the measurement of the distance between one mounting hole and an adjacent vertical and horizontal hole in mm. Check the specifications of your TV, you will see: VESA Compliant 400 x 400, or something similar. As long as the VESA pattern and weight of your TV does not exceed those recommended by the manufacturer of the mount, the TV will mount perfectly. There will be exceptions; a larger screen size may stop the mount from tilting or fully articulating. Then, you will decide which style of mount would work best for you, fixed, tilt, or articulating. Want to know which mount will work best for your installation, contact the pros at 888.669.1030 and we’ll be more than happy to assist you.