HDTV BUYING GUIDE

With all of the new TV technologies crowding the marketplace, it's time to update our HDTV Buying Guide.

Let's start this Guide with this simple statement. It's a TV. Nowadays, they are bigger and flatter then they were in the 20th Century. They are preceded by HD, but they're still televisions.

All of us want to think that we are making a wise, informed choice and are getting our money's worth, especially in this economy. So let me discuss a few factors that you may wish to consider.

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LCD TV BUYING GUIDE

The actual LCD technology is based on polarized light. Polarized panels sandwich a liquid-crystal "gel" that has been already divided into individual fixed pixels. A grid of wires then allows each pixel to be activated individually and when each pixel darkens it then polarizes at 90 degrees to the polarizing screens. The pixels darken with the amount of voltage that is applied to it. If the display needs to be bright, low voltage is given. Darker areas will receive more voltage.

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PLASMA TV BUYING GUIDE

Plasma flat screen technology consists of hundreds of thousands of individual pixel cells, which allow electric pulses (stemming from electrodes) to excite rare natural gases-usually xenon and neon-causing them to glow and produce light. Look very closely at a plasma TV and you can actually see the individual pixel cell coloration of red, green, and blue bars. You can also see the black ribs which separate each.

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DLP TV BUYING GUIDE

DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology utilizes a small Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) to tilt more than 1.3 million micromirrors-each of them less than the width of a human hair-toward (ON) or away from (OFF) the light source inside the DLP. This process creates light or dark pixels on the face of the projection screen.

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BEST REVIEWED

CNET REVIEWS FOR BEST HDTV 2010

Now that 2010 is well underway, we've accumulated enough new TV reviews to justify a list. Here you'll find the best TVs we've reviewed since January 1, 2010, arranged by rating. The other lists (on the left), on the other hand, include currently available TVs from 2009 and 2010.

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Panasonic TC-PVT20/25 series

With both 2D and 3D sources, Panasonic's flagship TC-PVT20/25 series plasma TV delivers outstanding overall picture quality.

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Samsung PNC7000 series

Among the better 2D performers available, the Samsung PNC7000 series plasma also delivers 3D for less than the competition.

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LG LE8500 series

With the excellent picture quality of the local-dimming LE8500, LG challenges other LCD makers for videophile appeal.

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Sony XBR-HX909 series

Although its black levels challenge the best ever, some other picture-related aspects of the Sony XBR-HX909 series don't live up to the high price. Price: $3,399.18 - $3,599.99 (check prices)

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LCD TV Care Guide

LCD screens or displays are NOT GLASS.

• The LCD product is composed of sensitive electronic parts and components. Therefore it must be grounded by ESD protection equipment (wrist band, etc.) before it is directly handled.

• It is recommended that the product be handled with soft gloves during Assembly, etc. The LCD surface is made of soft film, vulnerable to scratches and thus to damage by a sharp articles.

• Do not bend or stretch the back light wire

• It is recommended that the product surface be cleaned it is dirty by using IPA (Isoprophyl Alcohol) or Hexane. Keytone type material (Acetone), Ethyl or Methyl chloride must not be used as they can cause damage to the Polarizer.

• The Driver IC of the LCD TV for a Notebook PC is exposed on the back of the screen. If mechanical stress is applied to this area, it can cause failure. Do not hold or press this part with your hands

• Product lifetime can be shortened when it is used under conditions of high temperature and humidity

• When exposed to drastic fluctuation of temperature (hot to cold or cold to hot), the product may be affected; specifically, drastic temperature fluctuation from cold to hot, produces dew on the surface which may affect the operation of the polarizer and product.

• When it is not in use, the screen must be turned off or the pattern must be frequently changed by a screen saver. If it displays the same pattern for a long period of time, brightness down/image sticking may develop due to the LCD structure.

Plasma TV Care Guide

Plasma screens aren't really "high maintenance" but observing a few tips offered here can extend the life of the screen.

• Provide a solid foundation: Be sure the plasma screen is placed (or mounted) in an area where it will not be "knocked around" or will accidentally fall.

• Let it breathe: Plasma screens generate a lot of heat which can speed the demise of the electrical components of the unit. Be sure the TV has enough open space around it. The manufacturer will provide venting guidelines.

• Stay dry: Exposure to excessive humidity, spills, or condensation due to rapid changes in temperature can destroy electrical components and cause corrosion.

• Tone it down: Rooms with lower ambient light require less brightness. Brightness levels that are set too high will prematurely age the phosphor lining of the plasma screen.

• Keep it cool: As alluded to above, plasma screens require a cool environment, due primarily to the heat they generate. Outdoor placement of a plasma screen is a no-no due to the exposure to heat, humidity, other moisture, and dirt.

• Use a little "elbow grease"- but not too much: Keep the screen clean with the proper tools. Manufacturers seldom recommend strong cleaners. Most often a micro fiber cloth is recommended which is effective in ridding the screen of dust and finger prints. When more aggressive cleaning is necessary cleaners specifically made for plasma or PC screens (anti-static cleaners) are used but should never be sprayed directly on the screen. The cleaner should be applied to the cloth. Use of paper towels, Kleenex, or any other abrasive type cloths should be avoided as they can damage the anti-glare coating.

• Don't get burnt: Although anti-burn in technology has advanced greatly over the years, it is best to avoid leaving static images on the screen. This means that images should not be paused on the screen for extended periods of time and stations which present a static block/image on the screen should be viewed on a limited basis as well. Hooking your PC up to a plasma screen is also inadvisable as they are often used to display static images.

• Help your plasma TV weather the storm: This is just common sense; use a surge protector.

• Prevent pre-mature aging: The final word of caution; turn plasma screens off when not in use. This can help avoid accidental burn in, reduce heat, and help to avoid decreased brightness/pre-mature aging.

DLP TV Care Guide

Taking Care of a DLP Television

DLP rear-projection televisions are becoming a very popular option for those that want a large screen projection television, without all the bulkiness. However, one of the drawbacks of a DLP television is that the Projection Lamp needs to be periodically replaced.

Check out an article: Before You Buy a Rear-Projection Television

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