Shopping for HDTV: The Basics


If you walk into your local electronics store to look at HDTVs, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the dozens of options you have.  LCD, Plasma, 1080p, 120hz, Contrast Ratio — what does it all mean, and which is best for you? Understanding some of the basics will help you choose between the options and which works best for you when shopping for HDTV.


Shopping for HDTV Can Be Easy!

There are just a few main types of HDTVs: LCD, Plasma, Projection and the newest, LED.  Another common term is “flat panel” — which includes LCD, LED and Plasma TVs because of their very thin profile.

LCD – Liquid Crystal Display

LCD TVs are the most common type of HDTV being sold on the market today.  Many manufacturers are abandoning all other types and focusing solely on LCD.  This type of TV is known for its bright display image and non-reflective screens.  For most people shopping for HDTV, LCD is probably the right direction.


Plasma TV’s aren’t as common as LCD TV’s but definitely have their place.  Plasma TV’s aren’t quite as bright as LCD so it is recommended that they are used in darker rooms or home theaters.  Plasma produces the deepest blacks and typically has the best contrast ratio of all HDTV types.  If you’re looking for non-everyday use TV like in a home theater, Plasma might be the best choice for you.


LED HDTV’s are a quickly growing type of HDTV that just hit the shelves recently.  Their most noticeable features Is their super slim profile; usually the thinnest you can find.  LED TV’s also have super bright images .  However, the term LED is a little misleading.  LED TV’s are just a type of LCD TV that used LED backlighting.  LED TV’s are still a little higher on the price scale but as this technology evolves, they should be great competition to traditional LCD TV’s.


There are 2 common types of projection HDTV’s; rear and front projectors.  Rear projectors are large and bulky and slowly being phased out by most manufacturers.  They are considerably cheaper than flat panel HDTV’s but the quality definitely suffers.  Front projectors are typically mounted on the ceiling and projected onto a screen.  Front projectors are definitely good to consider if you are building a true home theater.

Which is right for you?

There isn’t one type of TV that is right for everyone, so shopping for HDTV becomes a personal mission.  In general, if you are looking for an everyday-use TV for your family or living room, LCD tends to be the most popular.  Their bright images and non-reflective screens make them easy to see in well-lit rooms.  If you’re putting a HDTV in your basement or low-lit room, Plasma TV’s will give you a great image.  However, if you put them in a brightly lit room, you’ll get a terrible glare and the image on the screen will be difficult to see.  LED TV’s are on the rise but the difference between it and LCD doesn’t quite justify the inflated price.  If you’re interested in the trendy-style TV, it is a good option but for most shoppers, LED is still a bit young.