LED TV Buying Guide

By Brian Thomas
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Your old TV has finally died and you have decided it’s time to get one of those fancy new digital TVs you’ve been hearing so much about. You have decided you want the best that’s out there and have decided on an LED TV. You’re all set to get your new LED TV but don’t know quite where to start.

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To better understand LED TVs, let’s look first at the basic technology behind most LCD TVs. An LCD TV is basically a grid setup in front of a light. The grid of course is divided into pixels and each pixel has its red, green, and blue sub-pixels. To allow light to pass through the screen a physical gate is opened allowing light to pass through. The degree to which the gate is opened will determine the intensity of the color and by varying how far the red gate is opened relative to the blue and green gates will produce virtually any color.

Not all LED TVs are created equal. Most LED TVs really aren’t true LED TVs, rather, they use LED backlighting. Most LCD TVs on the market today use CCFL lighting, similar to fluorescent lighting for your room. The downside to CCFL is the light is always on when the TV is on. There really is no way to vary the intensity of the light behind your screen. Even with the screen set to go completely dark, it won’t appear black, but rather grey. This is because some of the light will still seep through the LCD screen.

LED TVs that employ local dimming technology will have to ability to dim or even shut off the light behind certain portions of the screen where greater contrast is needed. If there is no light source behind the screen, you can be assured that contrast and dark level detail will be at its best. This is combined with LEDs’ ability to produce very bright, white light is how some manufacturers claim 3,000,000:1 or higher contrast ratios.

Some LED TVs won’t actually use backlighting, but rather side illumination. Obviously these TVs won’t be capable of local dimming. While these TVs will offer a brighter picture than a standard LCD, the contrast ratio won’t compare to a TV that uses local dimming technology.

If you are planning to mount your new LED TV to the wall, be sure to check the thickness of the set. Most LED TVs will be slimmer than their non LED counterparts. Some are even as slim as 1.2 inches. The other thing to consider when wall mounting is the mounting bracket itself. It doesn’t make sense to buy a slim TV if the wall mount for it is 3 inches thick. Be sure to check the overall thickness of the TV and the wall mount. Be sure to only use a wall mount that is compatible with your TV.

There are other factors to consider as well such as aesthetics and connections. Be sure to get one that has enough of the connections you need. As HDMI becomes more popular, the number of analog inputs is decreasing. If you find yourself with a large number of analog devices, be sure to check the number of component and composite inputs offered.

Of course the most important thing to remember is to get a TV that fits your budget and your needs. It’s worth it to do your homework to get a TV that you will be happy with for years.

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