Top Five Things to Look for When Buying an HDTV

Since we talked about 4k screens the other day, it occurred to me that some people may not even know where to begin when trying to decide on a regular old HDTV purchase. It seemed like a perfect time to revisit the advice that Matt Smith (no, not Doctor #11, but The Matt Smith!) once shared. While this was written a few years ago and some of the details may be out of date, most of this excellent advice holds true today if you’re not yet committed to going 4k.

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21 thoughts on “Top Five Things to Look for When Buying an HDTV”

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  4. I will stick to LCD cuz I heard that plazma tv’s don’t work as well with gaming systems…I want a wii and I certainly want a tv to play it on rather than my stupid CRT

  5. One thing that seems to never get mentioned when writing about newer tv’s is that the old mind set about measurements is out. As an example, when you replace a 27″ crt you have to start around 32″ wide screen just to get the same picture height.

  6. You missed a few things.

    Console gaming on a new HDTV.

    Gaming is huge and the current games have stunning graphics and sound. Both the X Box 360 and the PlayStation 3 use the HDMI port to deliver the game to the TV. It’s mandatory for a HDTV to have more then one HDMI
    port if you are planning on a future Blue Ray player and you already have a 360 or a PlayStation 3, you really don’t want to get behind the TV to unplug cables all the time. Even though the Playstation 3 has a built in Blue Ray drive, not everyone wants to use it for viewing movies.
    To get the most from your new HDTV it simply must support 1080p resolution for gaming.

    If you are into gaming on the X Box 360 or the Playstation, bring your console into the store and ask if you can hook it up to the TV you want, if they say no, then go somewhere else that will let you try your game console on the TV you want.

    Rear projection HDTV’s have a light source (light bulb) that has a limited life span, usually around 2 years, and replacing them can get very expensive. My 56 inch 2 year old JVC HDTV’s light source had to be replaced to the tune of $185 dollars, I bought an extended warranty that covered the cost of the first bulb, but the next bulb replacement will be my expense.

  7. I think that the most important consideration for choosing between LCD and Plasma screens is the amount of annoyance you get from reflections in your screen. Plasma being a polished glass surface is VERY reflective so be preparred to see a very clear image of any lamps in your room or any views outside your window. For me, this makes Plasma completely objectionable except in a dark room at night.

  8. Hmm. This advice skips over concerns of heat and noise. LCD’s are cooler and quieter. There is also the issue of lifetimes. Numbers vary, but you want to look at how much you use your display and how long it is projected to keep that contrast ration. Plasmas are getting better, but have shorter half lives than LCDs.
    Then there is power use, number and type of connectors- just what will you want to connect to your display? If you have limited rooms, and can set it up, having your display as your computer monitor is a very nice way to make a space serve multiple uses.

  9. Thanks so much Matt . . . I was planning to get a 720p T.V. soon . . (I can’t afford a 1080p) . I had no idea about the “Contrast Ratio” . that really helped me narrow my decision to the LG 26″ Widescreen Flat-Panel LCD HDTV . thanks again . . . .

    p.s. Keeping on rocking Chris Pirillo . I check your YouTube videos every morning . and I’m your friend on MySpace =]

  10. These are some great tips. I also just got a new HDTV last November. its very nice. Many people are Replacing there Big old Tube TV’s with new Slim HD ones now. And we also will be having that Digital TV transition Next February too so this is a great time to have these tips.

  11. These are great tips. This is a Great time to have these tips because more and more people are buying HDTV’s now too. We also have that Digital TV transition Next February so many more will be buying them. Overall these are great tips.

  12. One thing that’s going to be more and more important is whether it plays wel with video game consoles. Sure, it’ll work well if you plug one of the next-gens into the HDMI port, but will it have lag if you plug your console into another port?

  13. Good Tips, but you left out one other kind of HDTV, it would be the DLP HDTV’s. These TV’s are based off the old rear projection TVs, except they use millions of tiny mirrors that piviot. The Picture quality is quiet good on these sets, but the only drawback on these sets is that the bulb life is 1-2 years depending on how much you use the TV. Also there is a color wheel that spins at over 14,000RPM that can also go out. Both together would set you back about $500-600. Good Tips man, thanks. I already picked up my 46inch Toshiba 1080P HDTV, its sweet!

  14. Good tips, but just a ChrisH stated you need to look at the types. DLPs, LCD’s and Plasma’s.

    Look at what the purpose is. Are you going to be watching HDTV / HD Movies? Video Games? Online gaming? Do you have an older console that you would like to connect such as PS2 or the original XBox? These are all things to consider.
    Older PS2 and the XBox will have delays on the DLP’s. I should know I have Sony 54 in DLP and when I play Madden there is a split millisecond delay. It took some time to get to get the passing down, but for the limited time I spend gaming I really don’t find this to be an issue anymore. I also looked a LCD’s, the biggest problem that I saw was protecting it from my kids unless I wall mounted the thing. Also I noticed that the picture during high action scenes became a little fuzzy and there wasn’t a true black. The manufactures might have fixed this in the newer models, but when I was looking it was still an issue. Plasma is great, but they have a limited life span, run very hot and the make a humming noise from their power supply.

    Make sure that you can support 1080i or 1080p for get about 720i or 720p all together as this is out dated.

    Also Keep in mind that the lamps on the DLP are not covered under any type of warranty from the manufacture unless you purchase an extended coverage from the retail store such as Best But or Circuit City.

    Keep up the good work.

    Michael Brandhorst
    msb9c1 from chat

  15. I recently got a new 32″ LCD HDTV. Playing the 360 in HD is amazing and watching movies in HD is even more amazing. I switched from a old old 20″ SDTV Samsung! It was about time I upgraded!

  16. I recently bought a 32″ LCD HDTV back in November. Huge upgrade from a 20″ Samsung HDTV. Gaming on the 360 couldn’t be better and watching movies in HD is unbelievable!

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