Flat-screen televisions have matured, and plummeted in price since their introduction. With lower prices, manufacturers are trying to differentiate on features and technology, which makes some decisions simpler—like choosing the basic display technology—and some more need driven, such as the choice of input devices, or whether your television should be Internet enabled.
There are two competing display technologies for televisions: LEDs/LCDs and plasma. LED TVs and LCD TVs use the same technology for the pixels, but have a different backlight technology. LED TVs are more modern, should last longer in normal use and consume much less power. Plasma TVs offer deeper saturation and contrast ratios, use more power, and wear out faster – but they give a better picture according to many. LED TVs range from being the only option in many size categories to 10 to 20 percent less expensive in the larger models. While plasma TVs have wider viewing angles, it is unlikely that you’ll notice the difference in normal use. Contrast ratios are important, but most manufacturer’s numbers are impossible to calibrate with real-world performance between models from the same manufacturer, let alone when attempting to compare models between different manufacturers. In general, higher is better.
Resolution and Size
The choice of resolution has largely stabilized. The vast majority of televisions on the market are 1080p – meaning they have a vertical resolution of 1080 lines per screen. A handful of 720p devices are still available. Your television’s size should be set by the room you install it in. Amazon’s purchasing guide recommends that you divide the distance from your couch to the wall (in inches) by 1.5 – that gives the maximum diagonal sized 1080P TV for the room. For a 720p TV, which is lower resolution, you can sit closer; divide the distance from the couch to the wall by 3, not 1.5.
Your TV will come with a number of connectors — the most important are HDMI ports, used for plugging in most noncomputer consumer electronic devices, sound cable ports for hooking up a Dolby Surround Sound home theater system, and standard coaxial cable ports for connecting your TV to cable television leads.
TVs with USB ports can play media (music and video) files that reside on external hard drives. Some TVs also have network connectivity, allowing them to work as Netflix boxes or to connect to computers in your home that can act as video and music jukeboxes with electronic files. The next major frontier in televisions is Internet connectivity. Internet-enabled televisions connect to your broadband router, and can be tied to one or more streaming video service, like Netflix or Amazon Video on Demand. These services let you watch any video in the content provider’s library, usually with a small delay of 30 seconds or so to buffer the content.