Saturday, July 16, 2011

LCD, LED or Plasma?

It is a tough choice to make when you are shopping for a new TV.

First let me clarify one thing. What you find labelled LED TVs are not usually LED TVs. They are not using light emitting diodes (LEDs) to generate the image. They are nothing but  glorified LCD TVs which use light emitting diodes for backlighting. In fact, they should be called LCD TVs with LED backlighting. Traditional LCD TVs uses CCF (Cold Cathode Fluorescent) lights for backlighting.

Among the three,  LED backlight TVs are the most expensive.

So if you are tight on budget, consider Plasma or LCD. Both are in the same price range. If your room is not overly bright while watching TV, consider a plasma TV which gives slightly  better image. Also the picture looks OK even if you move to the sides, away from the center. But plasma is bulkier, consumes more power and generate more heat. Their image gets a bit washed out if the room is too bright.

LCD TVs are more suited for bright rooms, with lot of ambient light. Their image does not get as much washed out as plasma. They perform better if you watch daytime TV and the room is having lot of windows and light seeping through them. One problem with LCD TV is that the image gets darker if you move from the center towards the side. It becomes almost unwatchable if your seat is too far from the center or you sit on a couch to the side of the TV. Also some of the LCD TVs exhibit image lag with fast moving objects.

If you are ready to spend few hundred dollars more, go for an LED lighted LCD TV (commonly known as LED TV). The technology has improved a lot during the past two years and some of the  LED TVs are comparable or better than plasma in image quality. Plus, they do not have the shortcomings of plasma TVs. They can produce bright punchy images and can be tweaked to produce accurate video. They could not match video quality of plasma in the past, but that is not the case now.

Even within LED TVs, there are variations, like back-lit, edge-lit, local dimming etc. I don't want to get into technical details of these variations.

Where to mount?

1. TV should not be facing a bright window.
2. It should be mounted at the eye level, with the center of the screen slightly above eye level.
3. The worst location to mount your new TV is above the fire place. It will look elegant there, like a picture frame. But you will end up with neck pain soon. Also the heat from the fireplace may result in early death for the sensitive electronics inside the TV.

Do some basic adjustments of the video. Do not leave it in Dynamic or Sports mode as it came out of the box. If it is having a Cinema or Movie mode, selecting it will give the most accurate image you can get without a professional calibration.

Enjoy your new HDTV!