LCD television buying guide

Buying a new TV is one of those tasks that are exciting yet dreadful at the same time. In the midst of balancing what you need with what the marketplace has to offer, you have to battle salespeople trying to up their commission and your bottom line. The best way to protect yourself and make the right purchase is to know the language and accurately assess your needs. LCD TVs are all the rage, but what are they? LCD is an acronym for Liquid Crystal Diode. Sounds like superiorly-advanced technology, but this type of screen is used in tons of commonplace electronics. Digital screens on calculators, microwaves, bathroom scales and car dashboards all use LCD technology to give you the information you’re looking for, except maybe that bathroom scale.

In televisions, this technology allows for the bright, clear picture and is backed by either CFL fluorescent or more recently LED lighting. LED is the latest and greatest in television picture display and comes with a price tag to match. If you’re not looking for an LED LCD TV and don’t have the budget to back that purchase, purchasing a LCD TV will still deliver you a quality HD picture.

One of the easiest things to confuse about televisions is the measurement associated with them. Rather than giving you the dimensions of the exterior casing, television measurements represent the diagonal distance of the screen (ie the distance between the bottom left corner to the top right). This is not to say that you shouldn’t measure the overall space where you intend to place your television. Since flat screens can be wall mounted, set on a stand, or enclosed in a cabinet, you want to make sure you have the proper fit.

The size of the screen will in part depend on the distance you are most likely to watch television from. Though TVs should match the scale of the room, sometimes the distance you sit from the screen is more important if you want the best viewing experience. Here some basic distance rules to follow:

20 to 27-inch displays, 2.5 to 5 feet away
32 to 37-inch TVs, 6 to 8 feet away
42 to 46-inch TVs, 10 to 13 feet away
50-inch LCD or LED TVs, 12 to 16 feet away
60-inch LED LCD TVs, at least 14 to 16 feet away
70-inch LED LCD TVs, at least 16 to 20 feet away

While you’re looking at the spec sheets for various models, you’ll see the terms 720p, 1080p and 1080i, which refers to the screen resolution. Choosing a television that allows you to watch things in high definition is an investment worth making, even if you currently don’t subscribe to any HD channels. The televisions with the lowest resolution, but still considered HD are those that have a resolution of 720p. The 720 means that there are 720 dots per inch and the p means that a new frame is displayed every 1/60th of a second. Televisions with 1080i use an interlaced system where odd-numbered pixels are shown every 1/30th of a second intermittently with even-numbered pixels also being displayed every 1/30th of a second. If you’re looking for a smoother and better picture, it is best to go with 1080p because these televisions have more dots per inch than the 720s and display them faster than 1080i models.

Another acronym you should know is HDMI which stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. Several TVs talk about their multiple HDMI inputs, but how many do you really need? You’ll need one for your HD box, one for a Blu-ray or DVD Player, and if you have any extras like video game consoles, you’ll want at least one more. If you can find a television in your price range with three or more HDMI inputs, you can buy with confidence knowing that you won’t have to swap wires every time you want to watch a movie. However, if it’s not in your budget, there are adaptors on the market that are relatively inexpensive.

When it comes to purchasing your new television you have two options: traditional retailers and online companies. If you decide to go with a brick and mortar store, be sure to do some research first, so you know where to go to get the best deal. Often, club warehouses like Sam’s Club, Costco, BJ’s, etc. offer great deals on electronics that you won’t find at any other retailer. You should also be weary of warranties that seem excessively-priced, they usually are. However, warranties can be found online for cheaper, so you get the peace of mind you need without overpaying for something you may never use. If you opt to do your shopping online, you really have little to fear. It’s good to stop in a store and see it in person before making the big purchase, but online retailers offer all of the same accessories and warranties and make finding the best price a snap.

Stepping into the television section and having the latest blockbuster movie blasting in your face can be unsettling and distracting. If you can determine what you need and balance it with what you want, purchasing the best LCD TV for your home isn’t just easy, it’s fun.

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