Monday, December 17, 2012

Homeworks: The best TV is going to be different for every family

The Samsung PN60E7000 3D Plasma HDTV ($2,119.99).
So you’ve decided to spend your Christmas bonus on a new television. It’s a wonderful idea and likely to be a fun trip for the family. That is, provided you check into a few things before heading to the store. As you will soon find out, the old days when TVs were a simple appliance featuring an on/off switch and rabbit ears antenna are gone.
Consumers today have their choice of small, medium or mammoth LED, LCD, HD or 3D, Smart or just plain awesome.

Ask Matthew Skeltis, a blue-shirt associate in the home theater department at Best Buy in Chesterfield Township (blue-shirt being an honor bestowed to employees who know their stuff) what his store can offer in the way of televisions, and he’ll ask you where the set is going. Who’s going to be using it and for what reason? These questions are not to be difficult but to help him determine which television is going to be best suited for your family’s needs.

“Basically, it comes down to lifestyle,” Skeltis said.

If you’re putting the television in a dark family room, and the kids are going to be using it for gaming, you’ll want a design that creates bright images, strong vibrant colors and sharp edges. Also crucial to gamers is minimal lag — which is basically the amount of time that it takes for commands/messages to go from the computer to the television screen. A gamer will become frustrated if he or she makes a move but does not see instant results.
LEDs with a higher hertz rate, such as 240Hz or 280Hz, would be good for gamers. A standard 60Hz would be fine for basic TV programming, but a gamer and even someone watching a lot of sports or action movies would be disappointed with it.

Another popular choice for gamers is a plasma TV, which is also known to have less motion blur. In the early days of plasma there was the problem of “screen burn,” which occurred when an image remained on the screen for long periods of time. Skeltis said it can still happen but only if the set is improperly used or abused. Thanks to new technology and because most games no longer use static backgrounds the chance of “screen burn” has become a nonissue.

Also, because of the bad rap they’ve had, you are likely to find better pricing on a plasma as opposed to an LED.

What exactly is an LED as opposed to an LCD? “It’s brighter technology,” Skeltis said.
LCD or a liquid crystal display TV has a higher electrical output because it is lit by fluorescent lighting. With the newer LED or light-emitting-diode television, the fluorescent lamps have been replaced by LED lights that are brighter and use less energy. “These televisions also can be viewed well from many angles and they have a high-definition picture,” according to a report by Metro Newspaper Services. “LCDs are not overly reflective, so they’re a good idea in bright rooms.”

When it comes to the size of a television, one should also consider the room it’s going to be in and how close you’ll be sitting to it, Skeltis said. A 152-inch 3-D plasma might be cool for gamers playing on a set in the great room, but it’s going to be far too big for mom and dad watching movies in a small living room.

One also needs to consider the resolution of the screen. You’ll see numbers such as 1080i, 1080p, 780i and 780p. The difference between the (i) or interlaced scanning or (p) for progressive scanning is the way the signal on an HDTV is sent from a source component to the screen. Progressive scanning, also known as full HD picture, is usually preferred for gaming or watching sports and fast-action movies.

“The higher the number is — the higher the resolution and crispness of the picture,” according to Metro Newspaper Services report.
As for 3-D technology — it is great but do you really need it? Most regular television programming is not created in 3-D.  Do you want a standard television or a Smart TV? This is another option to consider, although not as important as screen size and whether it’s an LCD or LED.

“A Smart TV is capable of connecting to the Internet and a variety of sites such as Netflix and Facebook. A lot of customers also use it for Skype, which, for instance,  allows someone in the military stationed overseas to talk with their family back home,” Skeltis said. “I’ve had soldiers who have purchased Smart TVs just for this reason.”
However, Skeltis said if the television doesn’t have Smart (technology) you can always add a device to make it Smart for an additional $90 to $200 depending on the applications you want.

If you’re still not sure which television is right for you, consider attending an in-store demonstration or visit Best Buy online at www.bestbuy.com. Send your comments or home and garden tips to Gina Joseph gina.joseph@macombdaily.com; @gljoseph

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