"Branded" HDTV Features Explained

Motion Interpolation

Motion Interpolation is a feature that splices and generates new frames in a video in order to give the appearance of a higher refresh rate. Imagine watching a video of a bullet flying across a room - the software captures two frames; one of the bullet at 10 feet and one at 20. Motion interpolation essentially generates an image of the bullet at 15 feet and inserts it between the two provided. This creates a much smoother picture and allows a video filmed at a low refresh rate to be displayed at a high one. Sony's Motion Flow, Samsung's Auto Motion Plus, Panasonic's Motion Picture Pro5, Vizio's Smooth Motion, and LG's TruMotion all utilize similar approaches to motion interpolation. However, be wary of this technology, as there have been many complaints of 'ghosting' of images after interpolation is carried out. Be sure to ask for a demonstration of this feature before purchasing your set.

Smart TVs

With the use of TV set-top boxes on the rise, many television manufacturers have decided to incorporate similar features in their HDTVs, calling them Smart TVs. These include downloadable apps (Weather / Facebook / Twitter), streaming video (Hulu / Netflix / YouTube), and an online browsing experience. Some models even have built in DVR recording, allowing one to record and playback their favorite programs. Sony's Bravia Internet Video, Samsung's Smart TV, Panasonic's Viera Connect, Vizio's VIA, and LG's Smart TV fall into these categories. If you seek an alternative to these generally expensive sets, look into purchasing an internet-enabled set top box such as the Boxee Box or a Google TV unit.

Local Dimming

Local Dimming is a feature that allows a television set to control the brightness of individual pixels (or block of pixels), allowing a more dynamic and responsive image to be displayed. Scenes that have sharp contrast, like a lightning bolt in a dark sky, will benefit the most from this feature. Cinemaphiles will find this feature particularly illuminating, as their favorite flicks will be accurately reproduced onscreen. However, local dimming still has a long way to go, as consumers have complained that the technique exhibits noticeable 'blooming' around bright spots, which stand out amidst a dark background. Luckily, top HDTV manufacturers are tackling this problem head-on and newer models are less likely to exhibit these flaws. Sony's Intelligent Peak LED, Samsung's Micro Dimming Plus, Panasonic's Infinite Black Pro 2, Vizio's Smart Dimming, and LG's LED Plus Technology all utilize a form of local dimming.

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