Seven HDTV Myths, Busted

Seven HDTV Myths Busted
Common Misconceptions About HDTV

By Andrew Eisner

HDTV offers such a dramatic improvement over standard TV it’s no wonder that so many consumers are making the switch. Walk into any consumer electronics retail store and you’ll be taking a chance on getting the right information from the sales person.

There are many misconceptions about HDTV that you should be aware of when shopping for a new TV. In order to help you avoid mistakes when buying an HDTV set, here’s a list of some common HDTV myths:

1. All programs will look better on my new HDTV set.
Standard Programming Not true. Your new HDTV set will do the best it can to display standard definition programming which could involve shrinking the picture. Some HDTV sets and receivers upconvert standard def to high def but the results are not always optimal. Unfortunately the majority of programming is still in standard def. Hey, the Daily Show isn’t even in high def.

2. It is always better to buy a 1080p set.
1080 HD Ready Bruce Berkoff of the LCDTV Association points out that it is difficult to tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p on a set capable of displaying all the pixels. He adds, “If a TV is rated at 1920 x 1080 resolution it shouldn’t matter if the program is in 1080i or 1080p.” That said, you can buy a 1080p set for a reasonable price however 720p sets are much cheaper. Besides, none of the programming coming in over the air, on cable, or satellite is 1080p. More so, you can’t really tell the difference on anything smaller than a 37 inch TV or if you sit far enough away from a larger set.

3. Bigger displays are better
Screen Size vs. Viewing Distance If you sit too close to a very large set you may start to see the small display elements so it is possible to get a set that is too big for a room. On the other hand, a couple of things to consider; unless you have an upconverting TV or receiver many standard definition programs will be shrunk to work on a widescreen TV so bigger may be better for watching standard def programming. There are many published sizing guidelines but we recommend buying a set that fits with your furnishings however don't buy one that you won’t be so big that you’ll notice individual pixels. In general a 42 or 47 inch TV should work fine in most average sized rooms with 50 inch and larger sets good for larger living rooms and 37 inch and smaller for bedrooms.
Courtesy of Carlton Bale

4. Plasma TVs have problems with burn-in.
Plasma TV Myths Phosphor burn-in was a more common problem on older Plasma TVs. Many of today’s Plasma TVs have circuitry including some that shift pixels slightly in order to prevent burn-in or ghosting. Plasma TVs are still susceptible to problems at high altitudes (like Denver) and they typically weigh more, are thicker, and use more electricity than LCD TVs however many viewers prefer the warmer colors of Plasma TVs.

5. You should get an extended warranty with an RPTV or projector to cover the cost of the bulb.
Warranty Many extended warranties cover the cost of a replacement bulb for front or rear projection TVs. Considering the fact that bulbs are typically rated at 8,000 hours and cost around $400, the cost of the extended warranty would exceed the cost or replacing a bulb every 3-4 years. Extended warranties in general are usually not necessary especially with electronics that if they are going to fail usually do so during the first thirty days which a good warranty should cover.

6. You should always buy the more expensive HDMI cables.  
HDMI cable The HDMI standard specifies the electrical characteristics of the cable so one HDMI cable that conforms to one of the two standards should be as good as another more expensive one. The salesperson will try and upsell you on cables but we recommend saving the money and buying the less expensive ones. Chances are very good they’ll work fine. The one reason to spend the extra money is for the high speed (category 2) capable cables used for “Deep Color,” and lossless audio.  

7. You need to get a Blu-ray player to watch DVDs in high definition  
Bluray logo After the shakeout in the high definition DVD market last year, you would have thought Blu-ray players would be a safe purchase. Unfortunately it has taken a while for Blu-ray players to conform to the latest standard (Profile 2.0) and they’re still on the pricey side. While consumers wait for full-featured, affordable Blu-ray players (possibly this holiday season), you can buy a very reasonably priced upconverting DVD player that offers HDMI connectivity and near Blu-ray (subject to opinion) quality from standard definition DVDs.  

Retrevo for HDTV Info

Don’t forget to use Retrevo.com to find reviews and manuals for all the latest gear and gadgets including HDTV, GPS, Digital Cameras,Camcorders, and more.

HDTV Recommendations
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to buy a new HDTV than the DTV transition.
DTV Transition Center
Everything you need to know
about Digital TV Transition

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One small caveat...

A 1080p HDTV will offer much, much better picture quality if you decide to use it as a display for a PC using HDMI/DVI.

Or at least this is my experience with it. 1080i flickers or is blurry at full resolution while 1080p is as crystal clear as a monitor. Currently I have the equivalent of a 65" computer monitor in my living room. Stunning!

I have used two separate 1080i HDTVs to display three different computer outputs (mixed and matched) and none compare to my new 1080p.


a lot of what you say is close, and i tell my customers this all the time. however, that being said you can not begin to compare a blu ray to a standard upscale movie. reason being is there is something like 7 times more information on the blu ray disc. this means more lossless audio and video going through to your tv without any need for processing. processing fills in the blanks, and much like a poorly compressed mp3, when information is compressed, then uncompressed and the blanks are filled in, you get distortion and misrepresentation of the original source. the other thing that blu ray has to offer is something like potential of 16 layers on a disc, which will effectively make a completely losless format on a disc (or an entire season of tv on one disc).

also, the hd cables, not all retailers try to upsell you cables. there is a definite need for higher quality cables, but most people don't want to hear it. anyone who has hooked up a 120hz lcd with a 4.2gbs hdmi cable will tell you there is a reason some cables cost more. there just isn't enough bandwith to support certain signals with low quality cables. no matter how much you think the cables don't matter, they do.

finally, the "extended warranty" part. the way you have to look at it is a gamble. either you plunk down an extra $250 on a $1200 tv up front, and hope you never have to use it, or you throw out about $65-70 an hour for labor and a part that could run you $400 itself, let alone the time that it will take to fix it. most of the time you won't need them, but when you do, it's a lot cheaper than getting a new tv.


I work in a repair centre that does all the big brands under warranty - Panasonic, Samsung, LG etc... although we see some jobs come in within 30 days of purchase, 95% of our work is out of this time, and 35% of that is in the extended warranty stage, which we do repairs >$500 very often.

This article mentioned that upscaling DVD's is almost as good as blu-ray - yet, it spent a whole point pointing out that upscaling a SD signal can be worse quality then expected - the save applies for DVD, you simply can't fill out pixels that don't exist on the source signal...

This article was defiently written by a bunch of "know all's" visiting retailers to get opinions for a school project - don't listen to this article, half of it is full of crap.

BTW - A projection lamp is a consumable product (like a normal light globe), so most warranties or extended warranty's won't cover them after 30 days anyway... It's like trying to get insurance because a light globe in your living room blew..



I agree with most of this

I agree with most of this article. Extended warranty can sometimes be worth it, but many times is not.

The >500 fix's you do can many times be done yourself for much less. I fixed my plasma 50'' for 350, when they quoted me 850.

Bulbs are covered

Sounds like you have a perspective from the trenches and I respect that. We would still tend to side with organizations like Consumer Reports when it comes to skepticism about the need for an extended warranty

By the way, Best Buy's plan says

Bulb Replacement
We provide a one time bulb replacement on qualifying products:

  • DLP Projection TVs
  • LCD Projection TVs
  • Computers
  • Projectors
  • Home Theater Front Projectors

Doesn't make it any more worthwhile but there you go.

    As far as upscaling DVDs all I can say from personal experience an upscaled SD DVD looks pretty good. Of course not quite as crisp as Blu-ray but not bad.

Warranty and bulb replacement

The Big Screen Store gives you a complete four year warranty which includes two bulbs with the Mitishibusi rear proj DLP model......no cost...don't know if Mitisubishi pays for it or not...great deal....and love my 57 inch 1080i.....


Warranty On DLP & LCD's

Here the Long and Skinny of it People. If you havent been trained to Fix TV's you really dont know what your talking about. In our Experience ABC Warehouse has the best warrantys on the market. The Bulbs alone are $250.00+ per bulb and thats for the bulb not the Housing that maybe involved in replacing it too. On average Service techs are $90.00 per Hour. You do the math. You spend an extra $300-1200 at purchase time and have piece of mind for the Next 4 years. Also a little FYI for all of you looking into purchasing DLP's and LCD's STAY AWAY from Mitsubishi DLP's they have issues right now that the Manufacture is unwilling to correct at the time of construction. Along with they are unwilling to provide information to the servicers on how to fix the problems that thier sets have. They would rather have the servicer pull the chasis out of the TV and send it to them in Georgia and let them take 8 to 12 weeks for them to "Fix It". In our experience Mitsubishi is taking anywhere from 2 to 4 months to Fix the Chasis and no one wants to wait that long for their TV! Also Bulb life for a DLP/LCD TV's is 1 to 2 years and THEY WILL FAIL!