If you were watching the Final Four this weekend, and couldn’t tell the difference between Butler’s mascot, Blue II, and Dick Vitale, it might be time to upgrade your TV.
But with so many choices, and new technologies hitting shelves every week, it can be confusing to navigate the sea of sizes, types and price points out there. To help, I turned to the experts at Philips to get their advice on how to shop for the best HDTV, without getting ripped off, or talked into something that doesn’t work for you.
Here are a few of the tips from the Philips’ team to help you find your next flat screen without the hassle:
Reviewers recommend at least 40-inches for a living room display, but note that one of the biggest post-purchase complaints is from people who didn’t go big enough. So think about your space and needs:
* Make sure it fits: To fit an existing entertainment center, leave at least an inch on the sides and top of the TV cavity to allow for ventilation.
* Consider décor: Depending on the decor, you may not want the TV to “dominate the room.” To avoid this, tape together a cardboard panel that’s the same size as the TV you’re considering, and place it in the designated location so you can get an idea of its size.
* Seating distance is very important: Sitting too close or too far from the TV will affect the quality of your viewing pleasure. For the best viewing quality, you need to be aware of the distance between your seating area and the TV. Most experts recommend around 1.5 to 2.5 times the TV’s size as the optimum viewing distance. For instance, if seating in the room is 4 feet away from the TV’s location, the best screen size is a minimum of 19 inches and a maximum of 32 inches. If it’s 6 feet away, the best screen sizes will be between 26 inches and 46 inches.
Understand the Technology
There are three main types of flat screens on the market. Here are the basic facts of each:
Common Sizes: 19 inches to 65 inches
Pros: Consumes a lot less power than plasma. Lighter panels than Plasma. Models with matte screens work well in bright rooms.
Cons: Viewing angle not as wide as LED and Plasma.
Common Sizes: 32 inches and larger
Pros: Uses less power than LCD and Plasma. Thinner, lighter panels than LCD and Plasma. Improved picture quality.
Cons: Thin design comes at a price.
Common Sizes: 42 inches and larger
Pros: Excellent black-level performance in dark rooms. Uniformity and viewing angle.
Cons: High power consumption; glass screen can reflect light in bright rooms.
Know Your Price Range
Prices can be all over the board when it comes to buying an HDTV. But some deals offer the best of both worlds when it comes to quality and price. Once you know what you want, make sure to look at deals from electronic stores to warehouse clubs to online retailers.
And with competition heating up among retailers, and more and more retailers jumping into the fray, we, the consumers, end up the winner. (In fact, right now you can find Philips LCD and LED TVs ranging from $599.99 to $1,199.99 nationwide at Costco, of all places.)
Should You Pay the Premium for LED?
LED is the newest, and priciest, technology available. Sure, the prices will come down, but if you want one now, here are some of the advantages you get if you jump on the LED bandwagon:
Thinner: With some models being as slim as 1.2 inches, most LED TVs will be slimmer and lighter than their non-LED counterparts. This makes LEDs ideal for wall mounting. However, be sure to check the overall thickness of the wall mount itself, and only use a compatible wall mount.
Brighter: The brightness of the LED stays much more constant under many light sources, including home lighting and sunlight, ensuring you are not missing a second of the game or the slightest detail in the movie.
No motion blur: Does that man-on-man defense look more like zone because of motion blur on your old television? With LED, there is no image ghosting thanks to a super quick refresh rate, making sure that great shot doesn’t get lost.
Less power: For the environmentally conscious, or those of us just looking to save a buck on our electric bill, LED televisions consume much less power than their flat screen counterparts. Better for the environment and better for your budget.