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Categories: Televisions and Projectors
(Author's Note: This is the third in a series of articles that explain the differences among the many television technologies and help the consumer with a purchase decision. Follow the red links within this article to learn more about each type of TV or TV technology. This article is continued from the article Factors to Consider When Choosing a TV.)
Each particular category of TV offers advantages and disadvantages in a television experience. If you've narrowed the playing field down, follow the appropriate red link under the categories below.
It's important to note that many of the advantages and disadvantages listed are with respect to other products in their category.
Direct-View TVs (read more)Available Sizes: 9" - 40"
- Excellent image quality - In many ways superior to other newer technologies.
- The prices are affordable - Many tube sets cost way less than flat panel competitors.
- Familiar technology - Who hasn't owned a tube TV at one point or another?
- Excellent Viewing Angles - You can see the image from nearly any angle.
- Sizes are limited - If you want an immersive experience, but sit more than 6 feet away, forget the tube and move to a different technology.
- Weight - The largest tube TVs can weigh in over 250 pounds!
- Depth - Most tube TVs range between 18-24 inches deep.
- Value per inch - The largest tubes often cost more than other larger display types.
Rear-Projection TVs (read more)Rear-Projection is a general category for many different types of TVs. To learn more about Rear-Projection TVs in general, click here. Click below to learn more about a particluar kind of rear-projection display.
- Excellent image quality - in many ways superior to the even the newest technologies.
- Black level - CRT rear-projection produces the most rich and subtle blacks of any other TV type to date.
- Value - Even the best CRT projection displays are less expensive than the worst quality alternatives.
- Cabinet size - CRT RPTVs are often very deep, reaching nearly 30" on the biggest models.
- Maintenance - Though they should rarely require service, CRT RPTVs often need fine tuning adjustments to look their best.
- Viewing angle - The image on a CRT RPTV will begin to dim at any angle greater than 120-140 degrees off axis.
- Weight - Due to the mass of the display, you'll rarely want to move one once it's in place.
- Ultra sharp image - Due to the large pixel gap, these displays can look extremely sharp at the right distance.
- No rainbow effect - unlike DLP, there is no possibility for a rainbow effect.
- Black level - While LCD is getting better black levels with each passing model year, the other microdisplay technologies are usually a little bit better.
- Screen door effect - Due to the large pixel gap, sitting too close to one can make it look like you're watching TV through a screen door.
- Black level - Currently sports better black levels than LCD.
- Smoothness - DLP offers a smooth picture due to the smaller pixel gap.
- Video noise - Random sparkles in darker areas of the screen
- Possible rainbow effect - Moving your eyes quickly may cause you to see a rainbow of color
- Smoothness - Due to the very small pixel gap, the images are smooth as glass
- High resolutions - Many options are available at 1080x1920
- Price - These sets tend to be more expensive than DLP and LCD options
- Black Level - Many LCoS sets don't handle blacks as well as DLP or LCD
CRT Rear-Projection (read more)Available sizes: 42"-73"
Microdisplays (read more)Microdisplays are still rear-projection TVs, but differ in the kinds of technologies used to create the image. For more on microdisplays in general click here. The types of microdisplay TVs are LCD Rear-Projection, DLP Rear-Projection, and LCoS (and varients) Rear-Projection TVs. Each is described below.
LCD Rear-Projection (read more)Available sizes: 42"-70"
DLP Rear-Projection (read more)Available sizes: 42" - 67"
LCoS (and variants) Rear-Projection (read more)Available screen sizes: 52" - 82"
Flat Panel TVs (read more)Flat-panel is a generic term for very thin TVs. To learn more about flat panel TVs in general, click here. There are two types of Flat-panel TVs - Plasma Display Panels and LCD Flat-Panels as described below.
- Black levels - Plasma displays typically have better black levels than LCD displays
- Size - Though LCD displays are emerging at larger sizes, the current max is around 45"
- Value per inch - Plasma offers a better value for your dollar at larger sizes
- Burn-in - Static images have the potential to burn into the display
- Price - Though cheaper than LCD at large sizes, they're way more expensive than other options
- 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
Plasma Display Panels (read more)Available sizes: 32" - 76"
LCD Flat-Panel (read more)Available sizes: 10" - 45"
SummaryAs you can probably see, choosing the right TV for you involves many different factors. Once you've determined the right category or technology for you, the last step is to go to your local dealer and see it for yourself. Many dealers are good about answering your questions and helping you choose a specific model to meet your needs. It's recommended to bring your own DVD disc to evaluate the image, and don't be fooled by evaluating the image without checking the picture controls on each set. Dealers will often try to fool customers by deliberately making the out-of-stock model look worse than in-stock options.
There are many salesmen in the world that truly want to help you get what's right, and not what's most expensive. Listen, but double check any unusual facts you're presented with the TechLore community before believing them.
One way or another, if you follow the steps presented in the many articles devoted to helping you pick out a new TV, you'll wind up making a choice you'll be happy with for years. Buying a TV is not a one day process, so take your time to truly think about what kind you need, evaluating different models, and selecting a dealer that will be there to service you. And of course, the TechLore community will be here to help answer any of your questions, both before and after you make your decision.