Buying an LCD television can be overwhelming. Between the different types of screen resolution, refresh rates, inputs, backlighting and contrast ratios, there is an almost endless combination of features to choose from. And those are just the standard features that all LCD TVs have. Some LCD TVs will even include Internet widgets or built-in DVD/Blu-ray players.
LCDs typically come in two different native resolutions: 720p and 1080p. LCD TV sets with 720p have a screen resolution of 1280x720 pixels, whereas a 1080p set will have 1920x1080 pixels. The higher the resolution a TV has, the sharper the picture. All signals connected to an LCD TV will be converted to the display's native signal. Try to find a TV with the highest resolution available. Those with 1080p displays can accept all signals lower than that, including 720p, 1080i and 480p.
The refresh rate of an LCD is the amount of time it takes for the image on the screen to change. A higher refresh rate will mean less motion blur. Motion blur is caused when an object moves across the screen faster than the TV can refresh the picture. Most of the original LCD TVs had a 60Hz refresh rate and experienced a significant amount of motion blur. High refresh rate LCDs are available and have refresh rates of 120Hz or 240Hz. These TVs will take a standard signal and create extra frames to give a more fluid motion to movement on the screen. Picking the highest refresh rate is ideal; however, the highest refresh rate will not necessarily give you a better picture. At some point, high refresh rates no longer offer a benefit that can be noticed by our eyes.
LCD TVs will have the same type of inputs as most other HDTVs. HDMI, DVI and Component inputs will display a HD signal from a cable box or Blu-ray player, while standard composite and s-video will accept signals from older analog sources like VCRs and standard gaming console connections. Some LCDs also will offer a PC input for a VGA cable or a USB input to connect a digital camera or camcorder. Choose a TV that will have enough inputs for all your needs.
Backlighting has greatly improved since LCDs first came on the market. There are two main lighting sources for LCD TVs: cold-cathode fluorescent lamps and LED lights. LED lights use much less power and generate less heat. Cold-cathode lamps are cheaper; however, they do not offer the same level of color detail that LEDs offer. LED-backlit TVs can be created by clustering LEDs over the entire back of the screen or running them along the edge of the screen. LCD TVs with the clustered LEDs can offer another important feature called local dimming. Local dimming will turn off the backlight LEDs if the screen is black or dark to enhance the black levels and improve the contrast ratios. LED-backlit TVs tend to be much more expensive; however, since they use less power and offer a better picture, they are recommended.
Less Common Features
Some LCD TVs will include built-in DVD or Blu-ray players. This is very useful when you are mounting the TV to the wall and do not want to have any other equipment in sight. Internet widgets are finding their way into Ethernet- and wireless-enabled TVs, too. Internet widgets allow for sports scores, mail, weather and news to be accessed directly from the TV.
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