TV technology terms explained
It's time for a new TV, but how do you know which one is right for you and your family? Here's an explanation of what all those initials and tech terminology mean.
Liquid crystal display televisions.
These TVs offer high-resolution pictures in a wide range of sizes. They're also
energy-efficient and work well in all lighting conditions. Images tend to fade
slightly when viewed from an extreme angle, but newer technologies are rapidly
improving LCD TV viewing angles.
Light-emitting diode televisions.
These TVs are a specific type of LCD TV that offer several benefits compared to
standard LCD TVs. These include a better and brighter picture with deeper
blacks, a slimmer profile, greater energy efficiency and mercury-free
production. Learn more about LED TVs.
- Backlit LED TVs are lit by many LEDs placed throughout
the rear of the display panel. They offer exceptional picture quality, with
deeper blacks and more vivid, accurate colors. They also allow for more
precise, localized control over the dimness and brightness of specific screen areas
(referred to as "local dimming").
- Edge-lit LED TVs are lit by LEDs placed only around the
edge of the display panel. They offer a particularly thin profile, exceptional
energy efficiency and many of the picture-quality advantages of backlit LED
TVs, including deeper blacks and a brighter, better picture.
Organic light-emitting diode
televisions. They generate their own light and don’t require an extra lighting
source. This may not seem like a huge difference when compared to LED, but OLED
TVs are generally thinner, offer better blacks and consume less energy. Learn more
about OLED TVs.
Plasma TVs offer an affordable
option for larger-size televisions (42”–65"). Benefits include deep blacks
and bright colors, good fast-motion imaging and wide viewing angles. Plasma TVs
do, however, tend to be bulkier and less energy-efficient. And since their
screens are prone to image burn, they're not a great fit for gaming.
These TVs allow you to wirelessly
connect to the Internet and boast built-in streaming video services such as
Netflix and Hulu, music from the likes of Pandora and apps including Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube. You can even check the weather and news—all without a
computer. Learn more about Smart TVs.
A high-definition television that
can display specially made three-dimensional movies, video games and
broadcasts, in addition to regular "2D" video content. To view this
3D content, viewers must wear specialized 3D glasses. Learn more about 3D TVs .
- Active, or "active
shutter," 3D glasses electronically and
wirelessly sync their operation with the 3D TV to produce a 3D image. They must
be used with 3D TVs specifically made for active glasses. It's recommended you
purchase the glasses manufactured by the same company as your TV for maximum
compatibility. 3D glasses run on batteries that occasionally need recharging.
- Passive 3D glasses are polarized and function much like
the ones used in today's 3D theater releases. These glasses do not sync
electronically with the 3D TV and must be used with 3D TVs made for passive
glasses. The glasses come in a wide variety of styles and colors.
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A TV's display resolution refers to
the number of pixels (essentially little dots of color) that make up the
picture. TVs with a higher resolution have more, and therefore finer (smaller)
pixels, which create a sharper, more detailed picture. The higher resolution of
flat-panel TVs generally eliminates the fuzzy edges that were common among old
TVs. There are three main
- 720p: A progressive HDTV
signal format with a resolution of 1280x720. All major HDTV broadcasting
standards include a 720p format, but you’ll want a TV with a higher resolution
(see below) if you seek an unprecedented picture.
- 1080p: A high-definition
video format with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The main advantage of TVs
with this resolution is that they can display all high-def video formats
without downconverting, which tends to sacrifice picture detail.
- 4K: Also known as Ultra
HD (UHD), 4K boasts a 3840x2160 resolution—twice the pixels of a 1080p full-HD
screen. This means more pixels per square inch, resulting in the most vivid
picture to date, regardless of where you are sitting or standing while viewing
the screen. Learn more about 4K TVs.
A TV's refresh rate, measured in
hertz (Hz), determines how many times the screen is redrawn each second. In
general, the higher the refresh rate, the less image flicker you will notice on
the screen. TVs with higher refresh rates also display fast motion much more
smoothly. If you have gamers in your family, a higher hertz number (up to
600Hz) will make their gaming experience faster and more enjoyable.
A TV's viewing angle is a measure of
picture quality from off-center viewing positions. All TVs look best when
viewed head-on, but TVs with wider viewing angles offer a higher quality
(unfaded) picture to viewers farther off to one side or the other than TVs with
narrower viewing angles. A viewing angle alone could determine the layout of
your seating area. If you have a large room, consider a TV that allows a wider
TV add-ons and accessories
Blu-ray is an optical disc format
(similar to DVDs) that can play high-definition movies and other video content.
The discs are available with both regular and 3D content.
HDMI cables carry both digital audio and video (at resolutions up to
1080p) in a single cable. They provide the highest-quality connections between
your TV and Blu-ray players, HD cable boxes, personal computers, video game
consoles and more.
A streaming video player (such as Roku or Apple TV) allows you to
access television shows and movies via a small box that plugs into your TV.
It's very similar to cable, with many free movies and channels, but without a
monthly fee or contract. It allows easy access to your accounts on Netflix,
VUDU and other streaming media providers. Watch what you want, when you want to
to start shopping? Check out this helpful TV
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