LED TV Buying Guide

When compared with their LCD and plasma competitors, TV LED have some distinct advantages. LED TVs use specialized lighting that produces some of the brightest TVs on the market. Why does this matter? It can dramatically improve picture quality, looks incredibly vivid in a dark room and functions better in brightly lit spaces. If you're contemplating a new LED television, here's what you need to know.

Today's TV market features plasmas, LEDs and LCDs. Technically, LEDs are, at their core, LCD televisions that have gotten an upgrade. The technology behind TVs is really simple. The colors to be displayed are located on a grid that is laid out over a light source. The light shines through the grid to create the picture. LCD TVs use a light source that's similar to fluorescent lights in your house. The downside of this approach is that when the TV is on, the lights are shining behind the whole picture; instead of having darkness, you are actually seeing light shining through black.

By contrast, LEDs use a backlighting that allows for dimming or turning off of selected lights. This produces a higher degree of both brightness and contrast, which can have a direct effect on picture quality. It also makes LED TVs more efficient than LCD models. Some LED TVs use side lighting rather than backlighting. While these models are unable to dim, they do produce the LED's characteristic level of brightness.

What are the core advantages of LEDs?

Brightness and contrast lead to great picture quality: The lighting used on LED TVs allows for the brightest pictures on the market. This brightness is measured by something called foot-lamberts. Many LED models come top out at over 100 foot-lamberts. By comparison, the average movie theater is 12-16. LEDs create a vivid cinematic viewing experience. Viewer with sensitive eyes may prefer a viewing experience that is not dramatically bright. If this is an issue for you, look for screens with an antiglare coating to help offset shine.

Given LED TVs' ability to also turn off or dim selected lights, many models are able to achieve what's known as "true black." This adds a richness and depth to the colors. When combined with the brightness factor, you get a sharp degree of image contrast, resulting in images that look very realistic and vivid. Many LED enthusiasts swear no other TV achieves the same level of clarity and intense viewing.

Energy efficiency is good for the environment: Hands down, LED televisions are the most energy-efficient models on the market today. Because of their ability to dim unwanted light, LED televisions use less electricity than LCDs and plasma models.

Very thin screens are possible: If you're looking for an ultrathin TV, an LED can be a great choice. The technology allows for thinner screens, as slim as 1.2 inches. It's important to take this into account from a design perspective. Screen thickness also has practical implications for how the television can be securely displayed or mounted on the wall. Another advantage of a slim TV is that it can be easier to maneuver when needed.

HDMI and other connections: As with all ultrathin TVs, it's important to make sure that your selected model has enough connections. Depending on the devices you want to connect, a single cable may not be enough. Splitters are always a possibility, but that means you have to change the setting on the splitter each time you change devices. The best plan is to start out buying a model with enough connections already built in for your Blu-Ray or DVD players, streaming devices and cable boxes.

Screen size to feature ratio: LED TVs tend to be higher end models from selected brands, and they carry a lot of innovative features such as built-in Wi-Fi and the ability to modify more viewing settings. However, unlike plasmas, which are typically available only in the 42-inch and above category, LED televisions are manufactured in a range of sizes from small TVs all the way up to 90-inch devices. This gives you a wider range of choices in terms of selecting a television that works with your home's set up.

LEDs are powerful TVs that deliver excellent image quality, energy efficiency and ultra-thin design. If you frequently watch TV during the day or plan to display your TV in a room with lots of windows, an LED can be a great choice for your specific needs.

If you are ready to explore the best LED televisions on the market today, the Sears offers a wide range of options to suit every need.

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