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(ARA) – Today’s TVs can do more than most of us could have ever imagined, from displaying 3D images to connecting to the Internet. But those advances in technology have also made it more complicated for the average person shopping for a new television.

Are you having trouble telling the difference between LED and Plasma TVs? Perhaps you could use help with some of the technical terms used to describe the TVs right now.

Richard Doherty, research director for The Envisioneering Group, has his finger on the pulse of today’s latest technologies and the challenges consumers face when shopping for a new TV.

"The good news is that consumers have incredible options when it comes to buying HDTVs this season," says Doherty. "But choosing the ideal one can get somewhat intimidating if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for and what works best in your home."

Here is a guide to help make sure the next TV you buy is the right one for you:

Display types

Understanding what your TV will most be used for will help you decide what type of TV works best for you.

Plasma or PDP (Plasma Display Panel): These screens use a combination of phosphors and plasma gas which lights up to create an image; similar to how a fluorescent light works. Many experts consider plasma displays the better choice for home theater enthusiasts because they provide deep black levels, extremely accurate color reproduction and a wider viewing angle than most LCD sets, so almost no matter where you’re sitting in the room, you can still enjoy a natural, vivid HDTV picture. Plasma will also appeal to people who watch a lot of fast action, such as sports due to their ultra-fast response time which creates smoother, more natural motion.

LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display): This type of display uses a combination of liquid crystal cells a color filter and a fluorescent backlight unit to create the picture. LCD can produce a brighter picture which makes it a good choice for use in a bright room or areas where ambient light cannot be avoided. LCD TVs come in many sizes, ranging from 22-inch class TVs for the kitchen to 26- and 32-inch class sets for the bedroom to 42-, 47- and 55-inch class sizes for your main viewing room.

LED (LCD with LED Lighting): This type of LCD replaces fluorescent backlighting with an array of light emitting diodes (LEDs). This type of lighting enables the set to have a thinner profile (some as thin as 1 inch in depth), bright vivid picture and they are generally more energy efficient. LG offers advanced sets using Full LED backlighting which means improved contrast, a very high brightness level and a pristine picture, in an extremely thin and more energy efficient package.

Picture quality

Picture quality is a very broad term and can mean different things to different people. Here are a few key terms/features to be familiar with when buying your next TV:

Resolution: Most widescreen HDTVs will have a resolution of either 720p or 1080p. Often referred to as "Full HD", 1080p resolution means a TV can accept and display incoming signals at full HD resolution from sources such as a BluRay Disc player. Utilizing over 2 million pixels to display the images provides the most clear and detailed picture available today. 720p resolution is also a high definition format, and can also accept the "Full HD" signals; however the picture will be displayed utilizing approximately 1 million pixels, still a stunning experience.

Refresh rate: For sports fans, a fast refresh rate (expressed in hertz or Hz) is very important. This helps to reduce motion blur no matter how fast the action gets. Standard LED and LCD sets have a refresh rate of 60Hz and those equipped with LG TrueMotion, offer faster speeds of 120Hz, 240Hz and 480Hz. Most Plasma TVs feature 600Hz sub-field driving and are great for watching fast-action sports.

THX certification: THX, the organization that created the design and certification programs for cinemas, also has developed a program to certify picture quality. To receive this certification, TVs must undergo rigorous testing to prove that the television is able to recreate the vivid contrast, bright colors, and detail present when a movie leaves the director’s studio. Currently, LG is the only TV manufacturer in North America to have garnered 2D certification for an LED (LE8500 and LX9500) and its 3D Plasma is the first 3D TV to receive 3D Certification from THX (PX950).

Advanced features

Today’s TVs come with other incredible features and understanding everything a TV can do will certainly help steer you in the right direction when its time to buy your next TV.

3DTV: The ability to deliver HDTV’s supreme detail has been around for more than decade now, but some of the latest TVs also are 3D capable. More stations are jumping on the trend, as ESPN will broadcast a number of football games this season in 3D and more and more movies will become available on 3D Blu-ray discs. 3D is available on Plasma and LCD screens and LG’s PX950 Plasma 3D TV is the first ever 3D TV to achieve the THX certification for picture quality. With the action literally jumping off the screen, the 3D experience is great for viewing with family and friends.

Internet connectivity: Tapping into the Internet’s virtually endless options for entertainment and information no longer requires a computer. TVs with LG’s NetCast technology allow users to access some of the best media and entertainment outlets that the Web has to offer. On the best screen in your home, you can now enjoy Netflix, Yahoo!, VUDU, Cinema Now, YouTube and Picasa.

"Even with all the options out there, the tried-and-true method of going with what looks best, feels right and will last a long time, still works when picking out a TV," Doherty says. "But it’s always best to arm yourself with some technical knowledge before making your decision."

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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