|Screen Size Matters
Despite all the advice that would have you consulting charts and performing calculations to determine the best screen size, we say get the biggest TV that will fit in your room and with your furnishings. Don’t forget Very some standard definition programming may be displayed with black bars on the sides or top and bottom which makes the picture look smaller than the screen size. A larger TV would show a larger version of these “reduced” pictures.
Bottom Line: Forget the charts and algorithms. Get the largest TV that fits with your room.
High Definition Means High Resolution
These numbers and letters are pretty familiar; 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. They all indicate the number of scan lines and whether or not they are “interlaced.” Interlaced has the "i" after the number and doesn't look as smooth as progressive displays that have a "p" after the number. The best resolution for commonly sold TVs is 1080p which does not interlace scan lines. Most new TVs support 1080p even though most programming still comes in at 720p or 1080i however, Blu-ray players and game consoles provide true 1080p content. 3D content is another reason to go with 1080p even though most 3D programming will come in through cable or satellite at a lower resolution or “Half HD.”
Bottom Line: For TVs smaller than 37-inches you can probably get away with less than 1080p, otherwise we say go for 1080p
Minimize Blurring With High Refresh Rates
Higher refresh rates like 120Hz or 240Hz present more images on the screen per second. The more images your eye sees the less likely you’ll notice blurring of fast action programming. High refresh rates will also be required for 3DTV.
Bottom Line: You don't usually pay much of a premium for 120Hz so if you're not on a tight budget invest in a higher refresh rate.
Fluorescent Lamp Backlights Are Out
Like CRTs, Plasma TVs don’t require backlighting. New LCD TVs use LED backlighting (no, they are not “LED” TVs) instead of the older cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL). The LEDs are placed either along the edges (edge-lit) of the TV or behind the TV (direct backlight). LED backlights offer brighter displays that can save energy. Some newer TVs use tri-color LED backlights instead of white LEDs.
Bottom Line: LED edge-lit on an LCD TV would be our recommendation for brightness, reliability, and energy saving that is, until direct backlight LED HDTVs become available (see below).
You Can’t Have Too Many HDMI Connections
An HDMI connection carries high definition video and audio in the same cable. The more connectors on the TV mean you can connect more devices like Blu-ray players and game consoles. The newest standard is 1.4a that will be compatible with “full HD” 3DTV.
Bottom Line: If you want to have the latest technology or want a 3DTV then HDMI 1.4a is a must however, most TV owners will never miss it and can get buy with 1.3. We do however recommend getting a TV with three or more HDMI ports (the more the better).
In the Future, All TVs Will Be Connected
TVs with Ethernet connectors or built-in WiFi allow you to connect your TV to the Internet through a home Internet connection like your WiFi router. Some TV manufactures also offer services like Netflix and Pandora (your TV becomes your music player) on their TVs through the Internet connection.
Bottom Line: This will become increasingly more important. If you don't get Internet connectivity through your Blu-ray player, game console or set top box then try and get a TV with networking (WiFi would is best) built into the TV.
What Does 3D Capable Mean?
If you’re not ready to pay the premium for a 3DTV then looking for a 3D “ready” TV might be a smart move however, it could be tricky because it's not clear what a TV will need to be truly 3D-ready. HDTVs that can receive and display 3D will not only need a high refresh rate but will need enough processing power to decode and display 3D programming and of course it will need some way to synchronize the glasses through an add-on box or something built into the TV.
Bottom Line: A truly 3D capable TV would be a good compromise to future-proof your TV purchase.