Categories: Televisions and Projectors
Available sizes: 10" - 45"
Solid image - The image on an LCD flat panel is rock solid
No burn in - LCD displays are essentially immune to burn-in
Price - The price for larger LCD TVs is extremely high
Viewing angles - Many flat panel LCDs are difficult to see at wide angles
It is believed that liquid crystals were discovered over 150 years ago. At the time, the observations of this newly discovered phenomenon were of little interest outside the scientific community. While additional studies continued throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it wasn't until the 50's that work from various scientists around the globe sparked new interest in liquid crystals. In 1968, scientists from RCA showed the very first liquid crystal display, but never pursued to commercialize the technology. Then in 1988, Sharp unveiled a 14-inch color LCD display, and the world hasn't been the same since.
LCD panels use a complicated process of organizing liquid crystal molecules into a twisted or untwisted state, which allows polarized light to be blocked or pass through the liquid crystal substrate. While LCD may seem much newer than traditional CRT technologies, it is a proven and reliable technology that has been used in displays for nearly two decades
LCD technology has quickly dominated the computer industry, but it hasn't been able to take over the television world as fast. The abundance of LCD displays in smaller sizes has made it a competitive technology for any market that uses a small display, but the lack of larger sizes at a reasonable price is mostly to blame for the slow growth in the television category.
There are a number of great uses for LCD televisions. They're perfect for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and anywhere else a small TV is desired. Small sets can be mounted with inexpensive hardware or set in places a traditional tube TV would never fit. Similar to plasma, there are additional costs for mounting larger LCD panels which include hardware, professional labor, and cables.
Evaluating LCD Flat PanelsMaking the choice between LCD and plasma displays used to be very easy. LCD was small, and plasma was big. However, LCD TVs are quickly increasing in size, so what was once a very fine line is now a big field of gray. One of the pitfalls to large LCD TVs is that plasma can be purchased in the 37 to 42 inch size at a much lower price.
LCDs do have their benefits. The cold cathode fluorescent light (CCFL) that backlights the LCD are very long lasting, so the picture will remain bright for as long as 60,000 hours. And unlike plasma, which is based on phosphor, LCDs are nearly immune to burn-in (read Do LCD TVs Burn In? for more on this).
The image on an LCD TV is razor sharp and rock solid. Other flat technologies tend to exhibit video noise in dark areas of the screen, which you won't see on an LCD. However, the black levels on plasma tend to be a little better in most cases.
Another thing to look out for is video smearing (image lag). Since LCDs have a response time (the time it takes for a cell to go from active to inactive and back to active), fast moving images can look blurry on a display with a slow response time. While this used to be more common on older LCD products, many of the newer displays exhibit response times of 16ms or less, which should alleviate this phenomenon.
When looking at LCD displays, be sure to check them out from the angles you would be commonly viewing it from. Many of the top-notch LCD panels have very wide viewing angles, but just as many don't do so well from the sides. When evaluating angles, try to keep it realistic. Don't rule one out just because you can't see it from 178 degrees off axis... unless you plan on watching your TV from 178 degrees...
Like any television, the specific models you look at will all vary in their performance. Take your time evaluating each one before making your final decision.
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