Shopping - Technology

Purchase the right flat-screen TV

By
Christian Quirion

Find out what flat-screen TV is right for your home.

Televisions, digital players, broadcast control channels -- with all the essentials finally available, now's the time to welcome HD into your home. The good news? Each generation of flat-screen TVs features a new perk or two and is more affordable than the last.

Main considerations

1 Size. Initially, don’t let your budget dictate the size of the television. The first thing you should consider is where you plan on setting it up. Besides the space required by the TV itself, make sure that you have enough room to sit a reasonable distance from the screen. Sitting too close will only lead to tired eyes, and there’s a chance that the pixels or lines that make up the picture will be visible, greatly affecting picture quality. For optimal precision, the minimum viewing distance should be three times the height of the plasma or liquid crystal display (LCD) screen. One compromise, however, that shouldn’t be made for any reason (other than a lack of space) is opting for a screen smaller than 40 inches.

2 LCD or plasma? These are the two principal types of flatscreen TVs. For a long time, plasma was the front-runner. However, LCD technology has since made up lost ground and their TVs are often a more attractive buy than their plasma counterparts. Also, the so-called HD models (1080p) are generally more affordable in LCD than in plasma and in most cases consume far less electricity. It’s no wonder, then, that the majority of flat-screen TVs sold in Canada in the past year have been LCD. Having said that, it’s important to note that more than half of these TVs were smaller than 40 inches, a segment of the market covered solely by LCD. In the segment occupied by larger flat-screen models, the market share for plasma TVs is much more significant.

Most experts agree that LCD offers superior contrast in a well-lit environment, whereas plasma is better suited to dark rooms. If your television faces a window and you don’t want to draw the curtains each time you watch TV, you should be leaning toward LCD. Plasma screens hold the advantage, however, when it comes to angle of vision and depth of dark shades (which will not turn dark grey, as is the case with certain LCD models) while offering a richer range of colours. Our advice: Avoid generalizations and keep an open mind. Bring a DVD to the store and ask the salesperson to adjust the settings (brightness, contrast) so that you can see for yourself what each model is capable of, regardless of the technology. Change the position and the angle of the screen to determine
if picture quality is reduced when you’re not directly in front of the set.

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