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How To Choose a New TV

Types of TVs:
Direct View vs: Flat Panel vs: Rear Projection vs: Front Projection

Flat Panel TV - There are two technologies used for flat panel displays; LCD (liquid crystal) and gas plasma. They are currently the most expensive choices, but have at least one feature the others can't match; thickness. Flat panel displays are, on average, 4 inches thick. Both panels can be mounted on a wall or from the ceiling. Their size makes them ideal where space is at a premium or where they need to be hidden when not in use. Many flat panels have 42 inch screens (the smallest size available for plasma) although some 50 and 60 inch models are available. LCD also offers smaller screens, down to 15 inches.

LCD and plasma screens are both fixed pixel, flat panel displays. Because the pixels are fixed, incoming signals must be scaled to fit those pixels. Resolution for the most common Plasma screens are 1024x768 for HD models and 853x480 for ED models. LCD widescreen resolution typically is 1280 or 1366 x768. Full HD is now more widely available and displays 1920 x 1080 resolution. All plasmas are widescreen but many small LCD's are available in the 4:3 aspect ratio. Most panels display a progressive scan image, although some plasma panels use a technology called ALiS (Alternative Lighting of Surfaces) which results, in effect, in an interlaced image. The resolution will be listed something like this 1920 x 1080 or 1080i or 768p. The first number, when two are shown, is the number pixels across the screen and the second number is the pixels displayed vertically. If only one number is listed, it is the vertical resolution. The "i" or "p" indicate whether the image is interlaced or progressive, respectively.

Many units are sold as HD-ready, which means they do not have a built-in ATSC tuner, although some do have an NTSC tuner. Without an ATSC tuner, a separate tuner or set-top box will be required to receive television broadcasts. Some of the space saving value of flat panels is lost if you must have a separate tuner nearby.

Screen door effect is the term used to refer to the dark space between pixels on LCD displays. In some situations, it may give the impression of looking through a screen door at the image. This problem has been mostly eliminated. Most new LCDs have very clear and tight images.

Both plasma and LCD have difficulty rendering deep blacks, so the result is some inability to deliver image definition in dark sequences of programs or films. This area has, and continues, to see steady improvement.

LCD Pluses: LCD Minuses:
  • Excellent picture
  • Thin & wall mountable
  • Wide viewing angles
  • Bright image
  • Good color reproduction
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent sharpness at native resolution
  • Good longevity
  • No screen burn-in effect
  • LCDs are the most expensive
  • Motion blurring on LCDs
  • Screen door effect on some models
  • Poor contrast ratios
  • Difficulty producing deep blacks
  • Weak and “stuck” pixels are common

Plasma Pluses: Plasma Minuses:
  • Excellent picture
  • Thin & wall mountable
  • Wide viewing angles
  • Bright image
  • Good color reproduction
  • Good longevity
  • Better contrast ratios than many CRTs
  • Plasmas run hot
  • Plasmas are heavy
  • Plasmas somewhat noisy
  • Professional installation recommended
  • Susceptible to screen burn-in
  • Difficulty producing deep blacks
  • Fragile
  • Use a lot of power

How To Choose a New TV

What is HDTV? ... EDTV? ... DTV? ... SDTV?

Aspect Ratios Explained: What's the difference between 4:3 and 16:9

How To Choose: LCD, Plasma, DLP, LCoS?


Page 1: CRT TVs

Page 2: Flat Panel TVs

Page 3: Rear Projection TVs

Page 4: Front Projection TVs

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