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The Definitive 2010 HDTV Buyer's Guide  Print E-mail
Home Theater Feature Articles Video Related Articles
Written by Thomas Spurlin   
Monday, 01 February 2010
Article Index
The Definitive 2010 HDTV Buyer's Guide 
HDTV for Sports / TV
HDTV for Movie Lovers
HDTV for Well-Rounded Use

Around this time of year, we get an “itch” – not just tech heads or sports nuts, but a large chunk of the populace – to start looking at a potential purchase of a television.  It’s for two different reasons; one, a big game’s coming up pretty soon.  Watching the Super Bowl on a big screen (along with a few pizzas, dip trays, and assorted fizzy beverages) is just enough of a motivator to shove slightly interested parties over the edge into an investment. 

However, this time right before the game also coincides with another big event: April 15th, dreaded tax time or, more importantly, income tax return time.  It doesn’t matter if you’re into watching the biggest sports even out there or more of a cinema aficionado; it’s hard to ignore the appeal of a brand-spankin’ new set that’s just begging to eat up that well-deserved kick back after a year’s worth of hard work.  Audio Video Revolution is here to offer a few points to consider in 2010 for purchases, as well as a few of the more heavily-lauded models on the market currently.

Proceed with Caution:

Viewing distanceNowadays, the process of purchasing a television is oftentimes not really an exercise in immediate wine and roses – especially in the age of online shopping. Listings on sites like Amazon and other electronics-supporting sites like NewEgg and Crutchfield are often well-detailed, yet there’s always the potential for a) misleading product descriptions, or b) a lack of clarity involving the product spec. The key idea with purchasing a television is to dive at least a layer or two deeper with the research than you deem fit; even if the product specifications list an important item to your individual buying decision, dig a few layers deeper and make absolute certain that it performs properly or, even, whether it’s included at all.  Be prepared to return the television if things aren’t going as planned, but also be ready to verify the reasons behind why the television doesn’t meet your needs when discussing a return.  Put simply, do your research, then research again for what’s important to you.

Here are a few quick, seemingly obvious points to remember/consider when looking at a purchase:

  • What’s the height and weight of the television set, both without and WITH the base?

As odd as it may seem, television stands don’t really follow much of a standard when it comes to their included (or optional) support base.  Sure, home theaters are getting to a point where in-wall mounting is more nomenclature than a luxury, but some people simply don’t have the same trust in levitating their thousand-plus dollar investment in the air.  Due to that, it’s worth taking a look at the overall weight of the panel being considered and whether it’ll be supported by your current television stand – or, more importantly, whether the width is too deep for some low-riding stands.  For instance, LG’s 55LH40 is a great, relatively streamlined panel, yet the base is a bit of an outstretching mammoth at 16 3/4” deep. Since sizes for flat-panel stands range from high 14” to upwards of 20”+, that’s a point to verify before making a purchase.

  • Does the TV REALLY support 24fps, and will it be satisfying to my eyes?

Operating Blu-ray technology at 24 frames per second has slowly integrated into the home theater world as the standard because, well, most movies are shot in that fashion.  However, it takes a bit of adjustment for some enthusiasts to get used to the “true film” look after they’ve gotten accustomed to traditional 60hz refresh rate motion.  Blu-ray technology is internally encoded at this native 24 frames per second; when it’s communicated to a television that doesn’t support that native cinema flow, it duplicates frames to catch up to the 60 figure and attempts to have a crisper, more fluid image -- which brings up the oft-discussed 2:2 and 3:2 pulldown jutter issues. 

This creates a different look to film material than movie theaters operating at a natural film flow, which might appear “odd” too some when outside of the cinema context, even though it’s the “correct” way to view the material.  It’s worth keeping an eye out for televisions that claim to support 24fps motion yet don’t do it to a direct degree, such as Samsung’s LN52B550 – which drops to a different hertz level (48hz) to showcase the material, thus creating a problematic, shimmering effect due to the off-kilter flicker rate.

  • So, what’s with this new 120hz – 240hz “motion” technology?

Speaking of refresh and frame rates, let’s talk about the new-fangled, growingly-popular “true motion” for a second.  Again, what happens with this is that the image sprints ahead to keep up with the heightened hertz refresh rate, thus duplicating frames in the source and adding to a smoother feel.  Where this primarily helps is with live broadcasts, sporting events, and gaming; adding that heightened smoothness retains a realistic flow about those sources, making HD (and standard-definition) videogames more vividly fluid and offering a much tighter range of motion during high-impact sporting events – such as, ahem, the Super Bowl. 

However, the application of this technology to movies and television programming has a different effect, being that it effectively changes the hertz / refresh rate of the source to something unintended by the artistic talents behind the production.  It effectively strips away from intended frames-per-second look and adds a range of motion that looks more “realistic”, yet not inherently natural to the source – giving it a forced (and, to these eyes, a pseudo fast-forward looking) feel that’s simply unlike what was envisioned from its creators.  Also bear in mind, however, that 120hz sets have the added plus of being able to communicate 24fps material at an even, smooth 5:5 ratio (24 x 5 = 120).  

60hz / 240hz comparison


Along with those inquiries, it’s worth remembering a few other points:

  • What distance away will the viewing point be from the television?
  • How many HDMI ports are really needed if an A/V receiver is in use?
  • Will the television’s internal speakers be in use?
  • Will this panel be used as a PC monitor, hooked up via VGA?
  • How much glare will reflect off the panel from light sources in the space?
  • Will the internal HD tuner and digital audio out available on the television be used, or a cable box?
Continue on to read our picks for Super Bowl Sunday HDTV's, High-Def Sets for Movie Buffs and displays for All Around usage.



 

 
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