How to Buy The Perfect Television – TV Buying Guide

With so many different options, many consumers could use a little guidance when it comes time to shop for the perfect television set. What, exactly, is important to consider when you compare one television to another?

Types of Televisions:

The first and most important decision to make is the type of technology desired. In a nutshell, there are five television options: LCD Televisions, Plasma Televisions, Projection Televisions, Tube Televisions, and Combo Televisions. Depending on individual preferences like the screen size, the surrounding lighting, the playing of games on the television, budgetary constraints, and other factors, the decision can be quickly narrowed.

  • LCD TV’s- LCD televisions are considered the latest and greatest and they are preferred by those who consider themselves on the cutting edge of technology. LCD TV’s feature a flat panel and they create a sharp picture by concentrating electronic impulses into liquid crystal cells situated between two panels of glass.LCD’s are offered in a wide range of screen sizes, but most LCD television buyers select TCD because they want a large flat panel screen. If you’re looking for a great LCD TV with a smaller price tag, look no further than the Panasonic VIERA 32 in. LCD HD. This television provides lightning-fast response time for better-looking motion, stable image quality for display when touching the screen, a sharper image at any angle and low power consumption.
  • Plasma TV’s- Plasma televisions are noted for their excellent picture quality and slightly more affordable price compared to LCD televisions. Plasma TV’s are similar to LCD and have the same, sought- after flat panel, but the technology is slightly different. With a Plasma television, the screen is comprised of hundreds of thousands of tiny pixel cells. When electronic impulses are received from the power source, they activate gases inside the pixel cells, causing them to light up and glow, resulting in a high quality television picture.Plasma televisions are slightly less expensive than LCD and one plasma television that purchasers should strongly consider the Samsung Touch of Color 58-inch 1080p HDTV. You’ll get crisp, focused images for sports, dramatic action and other fast-moving scenes.

    Budget- minded buyers will like the Zenith 42 inch Plasma HDTV. This television offers technology to keep glare off your screen and optimizes a given color’s hue, resulting in a more natural rendering of colors. This plasma doesn’t offer as many features as the more expensive ones, but the viewing quality of this plasma TV is still very good and the price is right.

  • Projection TV’s- Projection televisions have been around for a number of years, but the technology has drastically improved. Projection TV’s are offered in two varieties: Front and rear projection. Front projection televisions are like a movie projector. They project the image forward, usually onto a wall or white sheet. Rear projection televisions, in contrast, create an image on the inside of the television, toward the rear of the set. Then, through an arrangement of lenses, the image is magnified and projected forward onto the screen. Projection televisions are generally less expensive than LCD or plasma TV’s, and this factor alone could make them the perfect television for some consumers.One great projection television that would thrill the mega- image seeker is the Mitsubishi Electronics WD 60 inch. This projection television is equipped with 3D-ready technology, Advanced Video Calibration Mode, Improved DeepField Imager and Improved Video Noise Reduction.
  • Combo TV’s- These television sets combine one of the above televisions with a DVD player. This combination set is a great idea if you don’t want to spend the time looking for a separate DVD player. The disadvantage, of course, is that there are very few combination TV/DVD players on the market.
  • Tube TV’s- Considered a form of outdated technology by many buyers, traditional picture tube television sets are still around, especially for the kids. The main reason is their lower price, and this factor alone could make a standard picture tube television a smart buying choice for many consumers.

Now that you now about the various types of televisions, let’s figure out what works best for you….Television set selection is more involved than in the past, thanks to the improvements in technology that have brought sweeping changes to the way televisions are manufactured. Below is a summary of things to consider before you start the shopping process.

  • Screen size is a very important consideration for some buyers and based on the desired size, the type of technology may or may not be available. For example, suppose you have your mind set on buying a television with a 50- inch screen. If so, then the only television options are LCD, Plasma, and Projection. Tube and Combo televisions are not offered with screen sizes this large. For smaller screens, the opposite is true. It is difficult to find an LCD or Plasma television with a screen size smaller than fifteen inches. For these smaller sizes, tube televisions are often the only choice available.
  • Lighting is another factor. If the room in which you plan to place the television has little lighting and few or no windows, then a plasma TV makes the best choice. Wall projection televisions also make a good option for low lighting because, like a movie in a theatre, the image is easier to see in low lighting. On the other hand, if the room has plenty of light, then an LCD television is the best option because the images from an LCD television are still easily viewable in bright light.
  • Picture sharpness and detail is probably the most important factor of all for many television shoppers and this is the main reason people tend toward LCD and plasma televisions. These types of televisions cost more than projection, tube, or combo televisions, but many consider the excellent picture quality worth the price. And while both of these technologies offer sharp, crisp images, LCD is considered slightly better and for this reason, LCD TV’s are the best choice if you want the sharpest detail possible. LCD also makes the best choice if you like to play games on your television set because the fine detail will be the most visible and vibrant with this type of television. Projection televisions have greatly improved compared to the past, but they are still not likely to offer sharp, precise images. However, projection TV’s are the best choice if you want the largest possible image, since projection televisions can create images as large as a living room wall.
  • Once the decision has been made to purchase an LCD, plasma television, or projection televisions, there is another important factor to consider: The different specifications that indicate the level of quality. Two of the most important specs are the Aspect Ratio and Contrast Ratio. The Aspect Ratio consists of two numbers, such as “1920 by 1080″, representing the lines of resolution. The higher the number is, the greater the sharpness of the display. To achieve High Definition status, the second number should be at least 1080. Lower numbers mean slightly lower picture quality and sharpness.
  • The Contrast ratio is another important factor and it refers to the amount of variation between the brightest and darkest parts of an image. The greater the ratio, the better the viewing and for optimal viewing quality, your selected television should have a contrast ratio of at least 5000 to 1. This will ensure that your black, white, and color images are as vivid and well defined as possible.

My bottom line…. Television buying presents many important decisions. What size screen is desired? How bright is the lighting in the room where the television will be located? How important is picture sharpness? Will the TV be used for viewing programs, playing games, or both? How much money do you have to spend? Is your choice of television intended to be a reflection of your technological savvy?

These and other questions must be answered before a final buying decision is made. It is important to determine individual needs and then find the television that balances needs with desires. With a little advance homework, and comparison shopping, the perfect television set is just around the corner.


Bryan Carey is a business professional, educator, and writer residing in the greater Houston, Texas area with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs. He has purchased several televisions in his time, including a plasma TV, and he has viewed and evaluated several television sets of varying types. He considers the picture quality of LCD and plasma televisions easily worth the premium price.


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  1. You are wrong. Most of the HD programming from Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T is broadcast in 1080i. If you are purchasing a TV 46" or larger, 1080 is the way to go. For sets that are less than 46", 720 will look very good and will save you money.

    FYI, here is a Viewing Distance Calculator to help you in determining the right size screen to purchase:


  2. I don't understand why one would always need to spend the extra 200.00 or so for a 1080 TV. Telavision is not broadcast in anything higher than 768 and will not be broadcast in 1080 in the forseable future. Gamers and Blue Ray players are the only reason that one would need a 1080 TV. I have a 768 and my picture is completely equal to a 1080 TV.

  3. One additional item that would be helpful is a formula for determining the minimum size based on the viewing distance.


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