Monday, October 29, 2012

A Beginners Guide to Home Theater Displays

There are two main focuses in establishing an ideal home theater: the sounds and the views. Things have gotten complicated in the world of TV watching. Not long ago, you had three choices when it came to televisions - small, medium, or large. Now, you not only have a plethora of size options, you also have the choice between LCD/LED or Plasma, HDTV or regular, 3-D or 2-D, etc. So here is a guide to choosing the right theater display for your home.

If you haven't already done so, you may want to check out our Beginner's Guide to Home Theater Audio to get started.

A Beginner's Guide to Home Theater Displays

First off, we are going to assume you want an HDTV and as for 3-D or not, you can choose that down the road. First, there are a few questions you should ask yourself about your TV-watching habits before you hit the stores. The more details you have narrowed down before you get there, the quicker the salesperson will be able to find the perfect TV for your home.

What size is the room?

Depending on the proportions of your room, and the location of your furniture, there are "ideal viewing distances" according to the size of your screen. Yep - it gets that technical. Here is a Recommended TV Viewing Distance Chart, compliments of the kind folks at Toshiba, which can help you decide. You may want to work backwards - meaning, measure the approximate distance from the couch/chairs to where the new screen will be - in order to determine the best size screen. It's easier to purchase the right screen size than to knock out a wall to expand the room...

What kind of TV do you ultimately want?

In order to answer this question, you need to know the basics about TVs.
  • Liquid Crystal Display or Light Emitting Diode - (LCD & LED)
    • come in a wider range of sizes
    • thinner, lighter, and more energy efficient than their counterparts
    • the picture is "brighter," which can be advantageous if you are more of a daytime viewer
  • Plasma Screens
    • these have the smoothest action (although technology in LCD screens is catching up) so plasma screens are often recommended for big time sports enthusiasts
    • they will make a difference in your utility bill if you're switching from an LCD screen
    • provide a wider "viewing angle" than LCDs so the so-called "sweet spot" is larger
When You're at the Store

You want to make sure you are happy with your final purchase so other things to consider:
  • Choose a store that demos TVs in a low-lit room
  • Bring your own DVD with a dark action scene. When this is shown on different TVs you will be shocked at the variance in clarity. It can be the "make or break" moment for you.
  • Sit or stand at the same difference you'll be at home - and then move off-center to see how/if the picture changes.
  • Play with the viewing modes: Standard, Vivid, Dynamic, Movie, etc. for comparison
Never let a salesperson pressure you into a purchase you're not confident about. Only you know the best TV for your home theater needs.

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