What You Need, & What They’ll Try to Sell You
by Dr. John Luton
What’s all the hype about HDTV? Here’s an HDTV Review!
There really is a lot of hype out there regarding high-definition television, better known as HDTV. Type those four letters into any of the major search engines and you’ll find yourself swimming in more information than you, or most other normal people, will ever be able to use.
Is there any way to make sense out of so much information? Is there an effective way of distinguishing between what you really need and what some sales person might try to unload on you? What you need is an HDTV Review!
What is High Definition Television anyway? Here’s an HDTV Review!
HDTV is about the best thing that’s ever happened to home entertainment—no doubt about that! Without getting into a lot of unintelligible mumbo jumbo, HDTV is a digital television format that gives you a picture that’s about five times sharper and clearer than traditional TV. While that’s enough to make most people eager to plunk down some cash, it gets even better.
Not only does HDTV provide a much better picture, it’s viewable on a much wider screen. Regular television screens are 4:3, which defines a screen ratio of four horizontal units to three vertical units. In other words, traditional television screens are practically square. HDTV screens have a 16:9 ratio—sixteen horizontal units to nine vertical units. In plain language (which is what most of us speak anyway), an HDTV screen is almost twice as wide as it is tall. Now, where have you seen a screen like that before? Right—at the movies! Watching a television program or DVD on an HDTV set is like being in the front row of your favorite movie theater. Bring on the popcorn! Sorry, I get a little carried away just thinking about the HDTV experience.
Smart consumers, however, need clear, logical thinking. And that brings me to a very important point: Don’t let your emotions carry you away when thinking about purchasing HDTV equipment. Beware of sales persons who greet you at the door of their store with a bag of popcorn in one hand and your favorite soft drink in the other. The next thing you know, you’ll be wrapped up in their display model’s surround sound, signing your life away for something you may not want or need. Take a little time to slow things down. Let’s see what’s available before making our purchase. Again, our HDTV Review can help!
What do I really need to watch HDTV? True HD vs. HD-ready: HDTV Review has an important word of caution!
Probably the most important fact to grasp is that there are basically two major types of HDTV sets. If your neighborhood gets high-definition Cable signals, then you might want to go ahead and get a true high-definition set with the tuner integrated in the unit. Plug your unit into a power source and a Cable line and you’re ready to go.
As any good HDTV Review should point out, HD-ready sets, on the other hand, require the purchase of a tuner before they’re ready to receive the HD signal. In other words, they’re not as ready as you might first think. The problem is: HD sets with integrated tuners (the true HD systems) can cost in the thousands. So, if cost is an issue, you might want to think about purchasing the components separately. If money is no object (I’m sure that must apply to someone!), go ahead and spring for the integrated unit and you’ll be ready for HD viewing in a snap.
For an HDTV set with the regular (Liquid Crystal Display) screen, you’ll pay anywhere from $1,000 to $8,500, depending on the size of the screen. The same integrated system with a plasma screen will run from $4,500 to $15,000. So, either way, you’re going to be making a big investment. Just be sure what you’re buying is what you really want.
Are there any other considerations? Our HDTV Review has a couple of important ones!
Just as you might expect, some well-meaning, but inadequately informed, consumers have purchased HDTV equipment thinking that they’re getting the integrated system (You know—the one that’s really ready for HD viewing.), only to find out later that they need to buy something else before they can watch television in high-definition. That’s no fun—talk about buyer’s remorse! Also, you might want to check with the Cable company in your area to make sure that they’re carrying the HD signal. If all the Cable line is carrying is digital, you won’t be getting HDTV.
Now, some of those companies will try to pull one over on you by saying, “Yes, we can fix you up right away with digital Cable.” If they tell you this, don’t forget to ask: “But is your digital Cable in high-definition?” There is a difference. In addition to the screen presentations we mentioned above, many digital signals only give you 480 lines of resolution, whereas HDTV pops with 1,080. Again, and even if you’re not a techno-wizard, the more lines resolving the television picture, the more you’re going to see. So, don’t fall into the “I thought we were getting HD, but all we got was digital” trap. I’ve talked to a few people who’ve been there. It’s not a fun place to be.
An HDTV Review of Plasma Screens – Are they worth the money?
I’m glad you asked because your HDTV Review has a good answer. As I’m sure you’ve already gathered, plasma screens on an HDTV system will cause your price to soar well beyond what is available in LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) format. Right now there’s a big debate concerning the durability of plasma screens. The brilliance of a plasma screen will diminish over time. The gas inside the screen doesn’t wear out—it’s inert—so it doesn’t have to be replaced. However, the phosphors do decrease in brilliance over time, resulting in a dimmer picture.
How long do they last? HDTV Review has you covered here too. Many of the plasma screens are currently rated anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 hours of viewing life. If you watch a lot of television, say about 17 hours per week, the plasma screen will last from 22 to 34 years. LCD screens will last twice as long. Again, it depends on what you want. LCD screens, for their lower cost, also have better brilliance of picture, better contrast, and a wider (175 degree viewing angle). They also come in much smaller packages, just in case you don’t want to have to build your apartment around your TV set. The smallest plasma screen available now is 32 inches, and they go right on up to more than 60 inches measured diagonally.
Okay, are you ready to go shopping? Take your HDTV Review along with you!
In the final analysis, buy what you need, what you want, and what you can afford. Don’t get stuck with something hawked by a smooth-talking, and sometimes uniformed, sales person. Knowledge is power. Knowledge also makes a smart consumer. So get out there and show ‘em what you know, make your purchase, and sit back for a viewing experience that will knock your socks off! And tell ‘em HDTV Review sent you!
The ITV Guru – Dr. John W. Luton
For more information about HDTV, be sure to visit the following sites:
Growing up in northeastern North Carolina, John Luton marveled as his father told stories about his childhood and World War II adventures. Bluebird in Belgium relates those wonderful stories.
Dr. Luton teaches world literature and mass communication at Elizabeth City State University. The Lutons have three grown children.